Moving to Jamaica? What the returning resident should know.

For The Returning Resident To Jamaica A Comprehensive Guide

As a returning resident to Jamaica  You would  already be familiar with life in  Jamaica,  however you may not be entirely familiar with what is required when you plan to return.

In this article we will take a  comprehensive look at what  is required for the returning resident who plans to move to Jamaica along with some tips recommendations and advice. Or you can watch the video here: video link


Lets start from the beginning here goes:

Who Qualifies  as a Jamaican Returning Resident ?

If you have lived abroad, and are planning on moving to Jamaica as a returning resident, please note that you must satisfy at least one of the following criteria.

1. Be a Jamaican national of at least 18 years old, who:

2. has lived abroad for the most recent 3 consecutive years,
3. is returning to permanently live in Jamaica.

4. Be a Jamaican who has renounced your foreign citizenship, can prove that previous status, and wants to move to Jamaica to live.

5. Be a Jamaican student of at least 18 years of age, who has studied abroad for more than one year but less than 3 consecutive years.

6. Be a Non-Jamaican whose is married to a Jamaican Returning Resident.

7. A Deportee who has lived abroad for the most recent 3 consecutive years

Important Note: A couple – husband and wife- will get only one concession if they return together or within three years of each other.

Preparing For Your Move

Be sure to start the planing early so as not to become bogged down with many things to do in the final days  .In the weeks and days leading up to your move you should prepare  a detailed plan and checklist so as not to run the risk of overlooking anything. Decide what items to keep and what items to dispose of.

Should You Sell or  Ship

We are always asked if its better to ship than to buy the items locally.  Well  it depends.  selling  your items and purchasing them all again is not as inexpensive as some may feel .  Considering that a good chest of drawer will cost JMD80,000 , a good refrigerator will cost JMD100,000 or more and so on  It is only a viable option if you can buy the items one at a time and over a period as your pocket can manage .  This option is to be compared to shipping costs bearing in mind that there are no duties charged on many of the items you will be importing . Therefore most of the costs will be the packing  (and this you can do yourself if you are so inclined) and freight.  Later on we will look at some of the costs associated with shipping.

However f you choose to dispose of some items then you should determine the method of disposing of those items. A couple options are:

  1. Have a sale.
  2. Give your items away.

If you choose to sell your items then start with the sale as soon as possible because this usually takes more time than the other options. Remember that the more items you carry, the more the attendant costs such as preparation, freight, etc. An informative guide to read is international moving guidelines/checklist.

Packing And Preparing For the Journey

When you are ready to ship your items to Jamaica its important to bear in mind that if you plan to ship your items in a container that you can save up to 30% off your shipping costs if you pack and prepare the items yourself. You  will need foam wrap, packaging tape, corrugated paper and stretch film please note that you will need to prepare a detailed packing list as this will be needed later.

If you choose to pack yourself here is a decent article on packing for overseas shipping

It would also be instructive to take a look at the list of items that the government of Jamaica allows you to import as a Jamaican returning resident duty free it is called the Jamaican Returning Resident Entitlements  List. We will look at this later


items packed for shipping
Shipping to Jamaica

The choice of whether you get a container delivered to your location for you to load yourself or to truck the items to a warehouse and have an international mover pack and load the container is dependent on your circumstances and budget.

For instance for the United States most containers ship either from Miami or New York therefore if you live some distance from these locations it can become rather expensive to ship your items .

As it stands your options are:

  • Buy your own container and pack and prepare the items yourself
  • have a an international shipping company in your area handle everything
  • or a combination of both

Each of the above ( and other options have  their pros and cons perhaps your best bet is to contact one of our shipping consultants who would be more than happy to advise you without any obligations on your part.


New Application Procedure

If you are moving to Jamaica as a returning resident and would like to access the concessions under  the Returning Resident program s, in which case you will be entitled to duty concession on certain quantity and type of items  (see returning residents entitlements list) normally you would visit the Jamaica Customs Agency Returning Residents Unit for an interview however that is no longer the case , everything is now done online.

This is now the sequence and procedure:

This stage can be done prior to your arrival in  Jamaica

Visit the Jamaica Customs Online Application and Booking Portal  

Here you will provide your name and email address  and  within a a few hours you will receive an email with your login credentials. Once you log in you will be asked some questions  along  with documents  to support your request for returning resident status  if all is in order you will receive  provisional approval . Make sure you have  documents to prove your application for returning resident status.


Once your cargo arrives in Jamaica and you obtain your validated Bill Of Lading  you will be required to scan and upload it along with

• Valid Jamaican or foreign passport with the unconditional landing endorsement stamp

• Jamaican Taxpayers Registration Number (TRN)  its also best to process and obtain a special tax compliance certificate from the tax office as this will assist if you are also  importing a vehicle

It is also necessary to have and upload your packing list so your duty free  entitlement can be assessed

You will receive a document RRU1 or RRU5 depending on your status ) which you will give  to a customs broker to start the clearance process.



The Clearance process

This is where many returning residents to Jamaica lose their patience but there is a process that is involved and it can take some time  so  expect between one to two weeks  for the completion of the clearance process all things being equal.

  1. Firstly your bill of lading (or airway bill ) need to be picked up from the agent ,  be prepared to pay some fees, these include agency fees, demurrage/ detention deposit.
  2. Once done the broker will set up an appointment with the port authorities to have your items stripped out of the container and examined by customs (its usually helpful if you have your packing list and any invoices ).
  3. A Bill of Sight will be prepared and submitted to the Valuation branch of customs   who will then determine the value of the items you have imported. This process generally take 24 hrs however we have seen longer times.
  4. Once the fees are paid a customs release will be generated

At this point delivery arrangements will be made. Choosing whether to haul the container to your residence or unload the items into a truck id dependent on many variables we cannot discuss here .

We would recommend Orandy Moving & Storage  which is easily the best moving company in Kingston  and would be able to satisfy your moving ,transportation and furniture set up needs



Some Cost/Charges You May Have To Contend With.

We get this question so many times that we think it prudent to address this issue,  and rightly so as everyone would like to have an idea of the charges and costs they will have to contend with so as to prevent any unpleasant surprises
Bear in mind that everyone's circumstances will be different hence individual costs will differ

So here goes:

Let us look first at  a 20 ft container.

Freight out of Miami will cost approximately USD3200 depending on which carrier you use. One carrier is now offering USD2800 out of Miami and will come and collect your items (this offer is specifically due to the COVID pandemic)

Packing charges (assuming a full 20 ft container ) can run from USD1500 to $2500 also de[pendent on what specifically you require to be packed.

Note that if you are outside of New York or Miami there may be some overland charges.

Ok so now your items have arrived in Jamaica .

You will now be faced with :

Agency fees  this is so you can collect your documentation and commence the customs formalities . These fees can run from USD250   to USD350 depending here again on the shipping line used.

Some agents (others will use a third party ) will request you provide a demurrage/ detention deposit which is refundable if your items are stripped out of the container and the container returned within the 4- 7  allotted free days. This will vary but can average between USD450 and $1300.

Now if your item remain in the container past the allotted days be prepared to pay from $80 to $200 per day.

Stripping the container (basically taking the items out of the container for customs inspection) the port will charge anywhere between JMD73,000  to JMD110,000 it depends on which port your cargo arrives at.

Customs clearance the broker will charge anywhere from USD$300 up to as much as  $1000 to clear your items thru customs.

Now finally getting your items home , this depends on where your items will be delivered However Orandy Moving is the best moving company in Kingston and Jamaica for that matter and they will deliver your items set up and organize your furniture at reasonable cost.

Ok now you may be confused and feeling a bit overwhelmed , not to worry give us a call or send us an email and we will be more than ready to advise you on the best options to reduce some costs such as which carriers are cheaper, which ones request lower demmurrage deposits , which lines have lower demurrage daily rates and much more. Our shipping consultant will work with you from start to finish to get you sorted out.




Importing a Vehicle as a Returning Resident To Jamaica

We are asked these questions on a regular basis: do I have to pay duties on my vehicle ? Can I import my 20 year old car etc etc. Ok so let us look at importing a vehicle as a Jamaican returning resident.

The Policy Regarding Vehicle Importation

Firstly, you are allowed to import an older vehicle that the regular citizen that is, you can import a vehicle 10 years old whereas the maximum allowed for cars is 6 years. You must also have had that vehicle for at least 6 months prior to your application to import it into Jamaica. Did you know that if you import a vehicle into Jamaica you are unable to sell that vehicle until 1 year has elapsed? Yes, that the case but also you can import one motor car and one (1) light commercial vehicle or two light commercial vehicles; or one light commercial vehicle
and a regular commercial vehicle, according to the age guidelines specified in by the government motor vehicle import policy.

Individuals residing in Jamaica are allowed to access this facility once every three
years. However returning residents, having accessed the facility within a particular year
would not be eligible to import vehicles in the capacity of an individual until three (3) years
after the date of the importation as a returning resident.

Freight and Other Charges

Depending on which country you are coming from you may have the option of RoRo service which is a bit cheaper than putting your vehicle in a container and the sea freight can range from USD2300 to $3000.


Let say your car is valued at $10,000 USD and the freight cost was USD$3000 you would be looking at approx JMD 1.7M for duties and and taxes , So with that in mind you can make up your mind whether to ship that vehicle  We really cant calculate the duties and taxes for all situations but that gives you an idea .

Of Course we are here  any time you may want to ask a question or need help in the importation of your vehicle


Some important Links Or Resource

Jamaica Customs

Safety Handbook For Returning Residents

Questions Frequently Asked By Jamaican Returning Residents

Question: Can I take my car when I am shipping?

Answer: Yes you can, provided it is not more than 10 years old and you have applied for and received the required import permit from the Jamaica Trade Board. Depending on where you are coming from a pre inspection may be necessary.

Question: I paid for door to door are there any other fees that I will be expected to pay?

Answer: Yes, you will most likely have to pay agency fees, port fees as well as a refundable detention/ demurrage deposit and there will be other taxes and levies.

  Question:     Will I pay duties on my items ?

Answer :  If the items and their quantities are in keeping with the returning residents entitlements list and tools of your trade then no duties will be charged however there are other levies and taxes that you will be expected to pay .

Question: Will I be asked to pay duties on my car?

Answer : Yes your car is dutiable

14 thoughts on “Moving to Jamaica? What the returning resident should know.”

  1. I am planning to return home in the next 2 years with my US citizen girlfriend who had worked in the government sector for thirty years we are planning to open two businesses while there to help the community as well as others who would like to visit and who are already there.
    Some insight would be helpful.
    Chris& Tracy
    9543838304 Chris&Tracy Elite Gutters Hollywood Florida
    9542926334 Tracy

    • Hello Cheryl the duties are dependent on the CIF value of the vehicle. If you only want the percentage value of the various fees let me know

      • i really am curious if they take depreciation of our car in consideration ? My car will be almost 5 years old at time of import.

        • Hello Cheryl would you be buying the car and shipping it to Jamaica if so, then they will use the invoice value along with the freight cost and 1.55 insurance (CIF value) to calculate the duties. If however you are a returning resident and is returning with a car that you have been using then the valuation branch of customs will try to determine the value of the vehicle taking account the value of an identical model and year car

          • Hello . I have owned the car for all 4 years . It will be taken home w me. I am a returning Resident. Do you suggest getting an aprasial from a certified Dealer ?

          • Well it cant do any harm. If funds are tight then I would suggest not to as there are no gaurantees that that value will necessarily be accepted. > But again it may provide a guide to the customs valuation branch . If it is a common vehicle I do believe they have their database of values.

  2. I am wanting to take advantage of the duty free concession for returning residents. I have a 2011 Honda Pilot using a RORO carrier. Am I still required to pay? If so, how much? I would like to know a USD amount in order to calculate. Also, I plan to use a 20ft container to bring my household items and furniture and fall within the entitlement list for exemptions. I would like to know also what is an estimate of clearing that with all the other fees. I have seen that on certain days and certain hours, higher fees are assessed. I have also seen that there are closure days which makes the importer cover storage fees. During the 2 week process, what would storage fees look like?

    • Hello Regina Let me try to answer your questions as best as I can . Yes yo can import a motor vehicle up to 10 years old however how much you would pay for duties is dependent on the Cost of the vehicle plus the freight cost plus insurance (1.5%) this is called the CIF value of the vehicle. That information was not provided hence I would not be able to say.
      Customs clearance fees depend on the broker and the amount of pieces that will have to be declared and can range from $30,000 JMD to to $100,000 as I said it depends on the broker . Some other fees you will likely face are agency fees which can range from USD250 to USD300 it all depends on the carrier that you choose then you will be required to submit a demurrage / detention deposit this is also determined by the carrier . This can range from USD400 to USD1000 it also depends on the carrier. With regards to storage different carriers allow different free days , the best being 7 days and the worst being 4 days . After that you will be charged daily for demurrage. The thing is these questions are best answered by a telephone call as there are many variables . If you feel you need more indepth information it would be best if you sent an email to

  3. I’m confused. It was my understanding that returnees were exempt taxes on the allowed list of items and also a vehicle.
    Now I am reading about tax, duty, import fees on household items and a vehicle. Why is that? Which is correct

    • Hello Rachel there are no customs duties on the items contained in the exemption list as long as the quantities specified is not exceeded. There will however be other taxes and fees such as Standard Compliance fees, Environmental levy, GCT as well as port fees. As regards a vehicle you will be required to pay all duties and taxes
      You may contact us via whatapp 8768192967 if you need more information.


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