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Experience Dominica – The Nature Island: Dominica Vacations | Exotic Vacations | Honeymoon Destination

Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


This post was guest blogged by Dan Tanner

Because we plan to retire and reside in Dominica, we did some research on the matter of Dominica’s policy regarding duties when we import our household goods. They are very fair, and I obtained them from the official document “Handbook for Brokers, Importers, Exporters, Investors, and Traders: Import and Export Procedures in the Commonwealth of Dominica” produced by the Customs and Excise Division, Customs Building, Deep Water harbor, Fond Cole, Dominica; telephone 767-448-2401 ext. 3117, fax 767-448-7950, e-mail: customs@cwdom.dm.

Here is a 35-page document on the Import and Export procedures of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which I have reformatted it into a PDF and have posted it to my Web site for the convenience of others.

Of particular interest to those who, like us, are planning to retire to Dominica are the contents of pages 32-33:

EXEMPTIONS OF DUTIES ON GOODS IMPORTED BY FOREIGN NATIONALS TAKING UP RESIDENCE IN DOMINICA.

Foreign Nationals who will be coming to Dominica to work and or reside will be allowed to import free of duty their used Household and Personal Effects. (Vehicles do not apply)

This policy is intended to facilitate

  • Investment/Investors
  • Working experience and expertise
  • Retirement

Exemption of duties may be in the category of Import Duty and VAT.

NB – Customs Service Charge, Excise Tax and Environmental Surcharge will apply (see table iv)

These persons will qualify if He/She:

  • Has a Residence Permit from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Labour and Immigration; or
  • Has a Work Permit from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Labour and Immigration; and
  • Will keep Personal and Household Effects for His/Her personal use; and
  • Will not sell, lend, hire out or otherwise dispose of them after duty free concession is granted unless with directives from the Comptroller of Customs.
  • The applicants should prepare a customs declaration listing all the items he/she intends to import into Dominica. The list should include the quantity and value of each item as far as possible.

    Goods that do not qualify will attract Import Duty, Environmental Surcharge, Customs Service Charge, Excise Tax and VAT at the rates specified in the various schedules. (See table iv)

    He/She will be required to attend a brief interview at the Customs and Excise Department carrying with them documentary evidence to substantiate their intention to establish residence in Dominica. Residence Permits, Work Permits, Employment Contracts, Title of Property, Proof of Ownership and the like would assist in this regard.

    Persons wishing to take advantage of this concession must ensure that their goods arrive in Dominica within three months before or after taking up residence on the island.

    In cases where your Personal and Household effects is shipped in advance of your arrival, they may remain in the custody of the Dominica Port Authority in which case storage dues will be charged. They may however be cleared by your representative after depositing an amount with the Comptroller of Customs to cover the duties applicable. The deposit can be recovered upon processing a customs declaration when you arrive.

    If all belongings are not shipped, the remainder can be imported duty free; in the event they arrive no later than three (3) months after the date you returned to Dominica. If you are unable to do so within that time, you are required to apply to the Financial Secretary for an extension within three (3) months of your return. There is no guarantee that an extension will be granted.

Guidelines for Tools of Trade

Tools of Trade means tools, instruments and pieces of equipment normally used in the pursuit of the declared profession or trade of an applicant. He/She may import free of Import Duty and VAT, Tools of Trade. Please note however that these Tools of Trade do not include plant, machinery and vehicles.The Comptroller of Customs shall determine the type and quantities of tools of trade.

This is very fair treatment, we think. Still, we don’t intend to bring much. We want to own our possessions, not be owned by them, as so many Americans seem to be. We’re clearing house by holding yard sales and hope to lead an uncluttered life in retirement.

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19 Comments »

Comment by Dan Webb
2007-09-19 21:48:46

Excellent article – thank you for publishing this.

Question –
If we own land and build a vacation home on Dominica, and stayed there for a few weeks (or a few months) each year, would our imported posessions qualify for exemption from duty?

Thanks!

2007-09-19 23:11:56

Dan…I’m not sure wheather you will be qualify for exemption from duties. But I can find out.

Dan -T, from your experience with customs, what do you think? Will they be exempted from paying duties even if they’re only staying a few weeks a year.

 
Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2007-09-20 02:46:08

According to what I read, you would need a residence permit or a work permit. I doubt that you would qualify for either as occasional vacationers. But my opinion is only that — an unqualified opinion. I suggest you contact the Customs and Excise Division.

I also suggest that you furnish your vacation lodge with locally made furniture, which can be of very high quality and quite a bargain, and which supports the Dominican economy. You can purchase imported and locally-made furniture at Astaphan’s and Courts, for example, and if you ask around you can find local craftspersons who will make furniture for you (it may take time to find and season the wood, etc.). I have seen some absolutely beautiful Dominican work.

You can bring small items with you in your luggage on successive trips if you are clever enough to plan weight and space well, and there will be no duty. But if you ship a “barrel” expect heavy duties; that has been our experience.

Remember also that electrical appliances will have to work on 240V/50Hz AC or with a transformer still work at 120V/50Hz. And a transformer is inefficient and wastes electricity (and money). You are better off buying them in Dominica. Just shop for quality, because some of the goods are produced at lower cost (and thus lower quality) for a less affluent market than the USA or Europe.

 
 
Comment by ahmed m chehab
2007-09-20 01:37:12

I would like to apply for a permanent resident where would i start and what qualification needed.

2007-09-20 23:38:01

Ahmed, there are different ways on how you can become a permanent resident in Dominica. Firstly, let me ask you this, how often do you travel to Dominica and how long do stay? I’m to sure, but I think that If you spend a certain amount years in Dominica you’re egilible to apply for permanent residence. Let find out..ok

 
Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2007-10-04 02:05:39

Contact the Legal Affairs Department using legalaffairs@cwdom.dm and request them to send you the requirements. When you gather the documents, be sure to keep copies, especially of receipts, because they tend to get “lost”.

 
 
Comment by Helga
2007-10-09 23:12:55

From what I understand residency permits are issued for one year, renewable yearly. After five years of residency, you may apply for Dominican citizenship, which allows you to work, vote, etc.

Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2007-10-11 22:15:12

I believe that one can also obtain permanent residency without applying to become a citizen.

 
 
Comment by alicia Subscribed to comments via email
2007-12-18 15:22:46

hi! I own a home in Dominica and I am married to a citizen and was wondering do I qualify for no duty taxes on my personal stuff to ship there when I move?

Comment by Chris Subscribed to comments via email
2007-12-18 19:21:35

Alicia,

I’m not sure, but I don’t think you qualify for duty free on your personal belongs when you do decide to move to Dominica. Firstly, I need to ask you these two questions…Are you presently a citizenship of Dominica? To my knowledge people who qualify for duty free concession are Dominicans who have lived out of Dominica for more than ten years. But I could be wrong ….I will have to find out more about this.

Comment by alicia Subscribed to comments via email
2007-12-19 19:54:56

I am a US citizen my husband is Dominican and our children. Thank for all your info

 
 
 
Comment by Liz Subscribed to comments via email
2008-04-29 12:02:12

I was wondering what you know about importing a vehicle for use on the island?

 
Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2008-04-29 15:00:55

Liz, I am assuming that you are not a Dominican citizen who has been out of the country for a required number of years (5, I think) and thus will have to pay duty. You will pay 100% of the purchase price and also about US$1100 special environmental tax. You will also pay about EC$40 per year to register the car. You will need a driver’s license (30-day temporary for EC$30; 60-day for $EC60); a regular license can only be issued to residents or citizens. And you will want to have 3rd-party (what Americans call “personal liability”) insurance.

We got our car through a wonderful man named Tony Charles. He lives in Bense and imports cars. He got us a 1996 Suzuki V-6/loaded with only 30,000 miles on it directly from Japan. Its price was US$6000; and that was very low compared with 4-cylinder models of the same year with very high mileage available in the US. And coming from Japan, it has right-hand drive. You can reach Tony via tony37@cwdom.dm or call him (Vonage, a US number in Dominica) 954-495-4931 or on his Dominica cell phone 767-277-9400.

It is important that you work through an honest and well-recommended person such as Tony, because you need someone to be the agent to find you your car, import it, get it through customs, and deliver it to you.

 
Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2008-09-06 10:18:11

I am gratified to have heard from Tony Charles that as of September 4, 2008 at least three people have read this blog and have contacted him about importing vehicles for them. I am going to build a Web page on my site for Tony. I should be up soon at http://www.dan-ruth-tanner.com/Eternity (because he calls his business Eternity Taxi and Car Imports).

Tony has also helped us with maintenance, repair (after someone bumped our car), storage, finding the best insurance deal, and advising us about registration, inspection and licensing procedures. Also with advice on accessory purchases we can bring in from the US.

There are two changes from the above comment: The government has increased the environmental tax from US$1100 to US$3000. And it is best to contact Tony at by phone or fax at 1-767-235-4652 (the other number was temporary because of some phone line problems) or via e-mail at tony37@cwdom.dm or call him (Vonage, a US number in Dominica).

Tony has my unreserved recommendation for honesty, integrity and friendly help.

 
Comment by G. David Dixon Subscribed to comments via email
2009-04-24 10:39:31

dear dan,

I would like to inquire regarding the import of vehicles. I have lived in Anitgua for several years, enjoy horticulture and have decided to move to Dominica and build a home. I am most interested in the importation of vehicles. Here in Antigua, one is no longer allowed to import used vehicles and the the duty for the new vehicles is 140%. Also, the importation of a small backhoe. If you could answer these questions, would be most appreciative.

Sincerely,
G. David Dixon

 
Comment by Sallyv Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-26 00:42:07

I need to know about bring animals into the country. I lived 5 years with my pet and I refuse to leave it in some pound. But I can’t seem to find information about this. Ridiculous

 
Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-26 11:56:33

Contact Dr. Reginald Thomas, Veterinarian, Animal Health Unit, on e-mail at agrivet4@hotmail.com or call him at (767) 275-1302 (cell).

You don’t say what kind of pet or pets you have or what country you’re coming from.

 
Comment by Dan Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-27 09:45:10

Sally:

Obtaining Dominican import permits for your pets is only one of two important things you must do. The other is to make travel arrangements for them. Make certain your dog or cat can’t be left to swelter, perhaps even perish, in a hot tropical cargo hangar.

We obtained a doctor’s letter for me and for my wife certifying that we each had a medically necessary assistant dog. That allowed us to each have one dog in the passenger compartment with us, un-caged and free of charge.

 
Comment by private
2013-01-24 16:37:39

To everyone who read and are still reading this article. Kindly note that this was not posted by Customs or a Government Agency in 2007 but the information in it was produced at some point prior to 2007 when the post was done. Quite a bit has changed since. To the non-nationals who continue to land on the island, inform immigration that they are there for a few weeks vacation and proceed to living permanently please be advised that this is wrong and you can be charged. If you ever intend to live here please apply for your residency or work permit. Saying that you will contribute to the development of Dominica or you own a piece of land in Dominica is not enough. Kindly work with our authorities, have all requirements, apply for a permit and when approved return with your personal effects which you can get duty free. Thank you.

 
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