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Yes, You Must Pay Duties And Taxes On Your Personal Watches When Traveling, But Here's How To Avoid The Worst | Quill & Pad

Yes, You Must Pay Duties And Taxes On Your Personal Watches When Traveling, But Here's How To Avoid The Worst | Quill & Pad

As the mid year travel season draws near, large numbers of us will venture out from home for excursions in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, or China. Unintentionally every one of these objections turns out to be among the world’s top watch makers. What to do about those troublesome import obligations and VAT as they identify with timepieces?

Being all around educated constantly is the best guard against staying away from fines, punishments, and humiliation in these countries.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Reference 5968A

General rules of the road

Dealing with customs authorities of any nation can be tacky, particularly in the event that they find you to be not exactly forthcoming about precisely the thing you’re bringing into or removing from their nations. The issue is additionally complicated if the nation delivers the very watch brands in which you’re “trafficking.”

The first standard is to announce your watches and adornments. Most exhort on proclaiming each piece before entering the country. You can even do this before you venture out from home or at the line prior to going to the country.

Next, know what every nation expects you to pronounce. When getting back to a non-EU country (the U.S., China, Japan, and Canada among numerous others), for the most part you should pronounce each and every thing you bought during your outing abroad.

Don’t fail to remember whatever you bought at the air terminal like a watch at an air terminal shop or an approved seller. Blessing things are on the rundown, as well, despite the fact that you’re simply the “mule” in that case.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Manual Wind Elegance

Be sure to comprehend that obligation free just wipes out neighborhood charges from the spot of procurement. It doesn’t mean there’s no traditions obligation payable on passage into your nation of origin. There is.

Of course, things you bought with the aim of selling or to use in your business should consistently be pronounced. In numerous nations, gold is on the rundown of declarable things. What’s that watch you purchased made of? Pronounce it.

Another decide that might be difficult to accept, particularly while landing a 14-hour trip at 1:00 am is frankly and direct when addressed. Simply suck it up and be nice.

Customs authorities have something important to take care of. The less you say, the better. Straightforward yes or no answers work best. Import/export officers couldn’t care less about your anxious jokes, they simply need to tackle their responsibilities and get you on your way so they can serve the following client in line.

You presumably will not need to try and open your sack. In any case, to be safe, don’t place anything in there you would falter appearing to customs authorities. They are geniuses. They can detect the most recent Patek Philippe model from across the concourse. Should they demand your Mastercard you can wager they will run it to see the rundown of late purchases.

How humiliating to see another watch buy on your wrist, however prominently missing from your announcement structure. Also the subsequent fines and obligations payable, alongside the hours it will take to get this simple misconception sorted out. All while your [furious] family anticipates your delivery from custody.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘WildCat’

Know the nations by their brands

If you’re stressed over paying obligation and VAT when entering or leaving a country, the initial step is to solidly fix in your brain which marks every nation produces. Your case is more grounded when acquiring a brand that is not created in the nation you’re entering.

Watch-delivering nations by top extravagance brand are as follows:

Switzerland: Patek Phillipe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Zenith, Rolex, TAG Heuer, IWC, Omega, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hermès, and numerous more

Germany: A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original, Nomos, and more

Japan: Seiko, Citizen, Casio

United States: RGM Watch Co., Shinola, Oak & Oscar, Weiss Watch Company, and more


Baselworld 2019 delivered harrowing tales – see what befell one of our companions at Fratello in Beware: Swiss Customs Targeting Baselworld 2019 – of Swiss Customs authorities pawing through packs and “finding” undeclared watches, despite the fact that these had just been the property of the proprietors for years.

These were here and there surveyed both an import obligation and VAT on entering as well as leaving the country. There were likewise vintage watches that line specialists endeavored to append an incentive to evaluate obligation when they had no clue about what the watch was worth.

A vintage Vacheron & Constantin Reference 4560 triple calendar

After such [probably few, however well publicized] disastrous encounters on account of Swiss traditions authorities, the accidental voyagers heading from Switzerland into Germany were in danger of running into something very similar all over again.

Here is the thing that you need to think about Swiss Customs and how to stay away from such grief.

QuickZoll: the Swiss armed force blade of customs apps

QuickZoll is the authority Swiss traditions freedom application for vacationer traffic. It is accessible for iOS and Android working frameworks and is free. With QuickZoll people can enroll products for importation that they bought abroad for their own utilization or as a blessing. They can make good on any appropriate charges and obligations straightforwardly through the application. QuickZoll additionally sums up the significant realities about passage into Switzerland.

Personal merchandise previously proclaimed or potentially cleared utilizing QuickZoll can be imported through all line intersections into Switzerland.

Import/send out rules

For the standards Switzerland utilizes at its line, see .

The without vat remittance for buys in a solitary excursion is CHF 300. Surpass that breaking point and you will pay VAT on the total estimation, everything being equal, which means you would relinquish the CHF 300 without vat allowance.

You may import things for your own utilization while in Switzerland free of any obligation. This would apparently incorporate a solitary watch to tell the every day time.

Importing more than one watch likely could be dependent upon customs obligation on passage and VAT appraisal on exit. All things considered, line authorities may think, “who needs more than one watch in the event that they don’t expect on selling it as a commercial good?”

Declaration of products on section into Switzerland

Declare all watches prior to entering and afterward again when leaving Switzerland. Indeed, even vintage watches that you’ve possessed for quite a long time just as the watch on your wrist for your own utilization. Neglect to make this presentation and you hazard being liable to import duty.

Failure to proclaim a watch (or a few watches) subjects them all to a fine of CHF 1,500 and 7.7 percent VAT, which you will pay if the traditions official discovers that you’re bringing in commercial products for sale.

Vintage pieces are considerably trickier. On the off chance that you don’t have the first deals slip, the Swiss traditions police should by one way or another decide its reasonable worth. Customs authorities as a rule have little knowledge of esteeming vintage watches. I’ve heard accounts of speedy web look and in any event, valuing from eBay auctions.

It’s in every case best to bring the first deals receipt for all watches you’re bringing into Switzerland. The chronic number on the receipt should coordinate that on the watch case. In the event that you presently don’t have the receipt, next best is the assurance card showing the chronic number that coordinates that on the watchcase.

Refunding VAT paid

If you were surveyed VAT on bringing watches into Switzerland or on the off chance that you bought merchandise in the country for which you paid VAT, you may endeavor to get a refund. Swiss traditions guidelines don’t make this easy.

You should follow a few stages to try and get an opportunity of really accepting your VAT refund. Here they are:

  1. If you got at least one watches that you own, odds are you computed their incentive in your home money. You need to change it over to Swiss francs (CHF). To do this you should utilize the right conversion scale while completing the proper structures and allotting an incentive to your watches. The conversion standard ought to be the spot rate as of the last exchanging day before the import charge obligation arose. You may wish to hold duplicates of the spot rate reports in your workpapers as verification of your computations. You just might be allowed the chance to demonstrate your work.
  2. If you’ve just imported the watches and announced them as commercial merchandise you need to complete fare structures to get a computer-created trade code that you’ll require later on in the process.
  3. When leaving, at the boundary Swiss authorities will again examine your watches to verify that they are in fact the specific ones that you acquired, paid import obligation on (or announced), and for which you’re guaranteeing a VAT refund. This may not be just about as simple as it appears. It isn’t in Switzerland’s best monetary interests to acknowledge that the watches you’re sending out are to be sure those you imported and are mentioning a VAT refund. It is ideal to have all receipts and that all chronic numbers match.
  4. Assuming that traditions authorities acknowledge your case that you are sending out similar careful watches you imported, you should compose a letter to the Swiss traditions authorities clarifying that you claimed the watches before truly entering Switzerland and that you paid the fine and the VAT and are currently requesting a VAT refund.
  5. If you are uncommonly fortunate, you may one day get some piece of your VAT back. In any case, don’t hold your breath.

When leaving Switzerland and proceeding onward to another European country there is likely an importation charge on commercial merchandise; Germany’s, for instance is 19%. You’ll have to do the entire affirmation and verification thing once more, so don’t take care of your administrative work, receipts, and coordinating sequential numbers.

Rolex Datejust 36 Reference 126234

Bottom line: pronounce everything with unassailable documentation and evidence that you are the proprietor and not bringing in commercial products for sale.

Better yet, simply leave your esteemed watches at home aside from maybe for one whose retail esteem is unassuming (under 300 CHF, the greatest you’re permitted before charges start accumulating). Be certain your earlier possession is promptly provable with a business slip and additionally a fast web search on your smartphone.

The Swiss are for the most part amenable and as obliging as could really be expected. Simply don’t cross them. They have been singed really regularly by explorers attempting to beat the framework. Return their mutual respect, don’t lie, and adhere to their guidelines. You’ll be fine.


Navigating customs between European Union nations is very simple as there are no restrictions on what people can purchase and take with them for their own utilization when going between EU nations. Nonetheless, the items bought should not be for resale.

Taxes (both VAT and extract charge) are remembered for the cost in the EU part condition of procurement. No further installment of charges is expected in some other EU part state. In any case, be prepared to demonstrate that you bought the things inside the EU and paid the imperative taxes.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 25th Anniversary Edition

Definition of individual use or consumption

Such merchandise should be only for your own utilization or utilization, for individuals from your family, or as a blessing. You may not acquire products for others for a thought. At the end of the day you can’t accepting different German looks for your companions for a charge – basically going about as their donkey – and desire to keep away from an expense assessment.

Maximum esteem prior to surveying import duty

There are two most extreme estimations of imported merchandise contingent upon how you enter Germany. In case you’re going via ocean or air, the imported worth permitted is €430. On the off chance that you enter Germany by another movement, the imported greatest incentive before obligation evaluation is €300. The two constraints are for a solitary journey.

Germany characterizes a solitary excursion as finishing when you get back to your home in your own country or when you have shown up at your objective in Germany. This dispenses with those endeavoring to utilize the explorers’ stipend by intersection the line on numerous occasions in succession.

Glashütte Original Sixties Green Panorama Date

If the estimation of an item(s) surpasses the edge, at that point obligation is evaluated on the absolute value without credit for the edge amount.

Once you have surpassed the obligation free breaking point, you should pay VAT of 19% alongside fluctuating traditions expenses on the estimation of the item.

One more rule

As confirmation of non-commercial fare, a completed structure called Ausfuhr-und Abnehmerbescheinigung für Umsatzsteuerzwecke bei Ausfuhren im nicht kommerziellen Reiseverkehr , or some other narrative proof, ought to be completed by the shop where you bought your goods.

This substitute proof can be a receipt showing the name and address of the shop, the commercial description(s), and amount of the merchandise sent out and supported with a legitimate stamp engrave by the traditions purpose of fare. You should print this structure and keep a few duplicates with you when shopping obligation free in Germany. A few shops don’t have them.

In Germany, as on the whole nations, keep your business receipts helpful when intersection borders. Also, be certain the chronic numbers on the receipts coordinate those on the things you purchased.


For a country with a standing for exactness, its traditions framework isn’t. Before you withdraw for Japan look into its traditions methodology at . This gives some sign of what should be proclaimed, when, and how to pronounce watches you’re bringing into the country.

Generally, products for individual use while in the nation can be imported with no obligation appraisal. This incorporates one watch for telling every day time.

Calculating import duties

Japanese customs has arranged an online leaflet you can see at . Here’s a rundown of the rules:

  1. When entering the country, all guests much complete a “Announcement of Personal Effects and Unaccompanied Articles” structure. Rundown all things being brought into the country that have a place with you.
  2. Wristwatches whose worth surpasses ¥150,000 are dependent upon both an extract duty and neighborhood extract charge. Unfamiliar market an incentive up to ¥150,000 isn’t taxable.
  3. Watches over that sum cause evaluation on the full an incentive without credit for the ¥150,000 nontaxable amount.
  4. The real count follows:
    1. Take 60% of the watch’s fairly estimated worth in yen utilizing the latest spot cost from the last exchanging day for unfamiliar cash interpretation. Keep your workpapers.
    2. Federal extract charge computation: increase the 60% limited unfamiliar market an incentive by 6.3 percent. The outcome is the extract charge payable in yen on imported watches not for individual consumption.
    3. Local extract charge computation: duplicate the government extract charge (computed in “b” above) by 27%. Presently you have the neighborhood extract charge payable in yen.
  5. Here’s a model:
    1. Foreign market watch esteem is ¥$350,000
    2. Excise charge computation:

¥350,000 X 60% = ¥210,000

¥210,000Y X 6.3% = ¥13,230 = extract charge payable

  1. Local extract tax:

¥13,230Y X 27% = ¥3,572 Local extract charge payable

Total charge payable on bringing in a ¥350,000 watch is 13,230 + 3,572 = ¥16,802

This is around 5% tax.

Be careful while completing the “Traditions Declaration Form.” Question #2 on the structure inquires as to whether you’re getting gold bullion or results of gold. Since numerous watches are viewed as results of gold, don’t rush to answer no.

Should you get at least one watches in Japan, make certain to demand a record of procurement and connect it to your identification. The record of procurement will be taken at air terminal traditions when you leave.  

Forms required when leaving the country

You’ll have to complete the “Enlistment for Carrying out Foreign-made Goods” structure to pronounce any non-Japanese products in your ownership. Fill in the portrayal and amount of watches, sacks, neckbands, etc you bought in the country and submit it to customs. Without this enrollment, these products can’t be recognized from articles bought abroad and they might be dutiable in some cases.

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition

The next structure to complete is the “Affirmation of Carrying of Means of Payment.” When withdrawing or entering Japan, you should proclaim in the event that you convey money surpassing 1,000,000 Japanese yen or its same. This incorporates money, checks, and gold of in excess of 90% purity.

Many top of the line Japanese watch shops are sans obligation. In Japan there is presently a 8 percent utilization charge on all merchandise sold. This ascents to 10 percent in October 2019. Why pay it on the off chance that you don’t need to? I recommend shopping at enlisted obligation free watch shops.

Should you shop at non-obligation free settings the utilization charge is refundable in full. The utilization charge refund technique in Japan is to some degree simpler than in different nations where you need to introduce your bought merchandise in the airport.

Also, know that in Japan when shopping at obligation free settings make certain to bring your visa. Contingent upon the store you buy your watch(es) from, they can either charge you the cost of the watch short the utilization duty or charge the maximum and send you to a client support counter to get a quick money refund.


Italy is an individual from the EU, and going between its part countries is generally simple. When heading out to or from non-EU part countries, you should know about Italian traditions rules.

In Italy, the VAT is known as the IVA. Its present rate is 24.2 percent.

Importing merchandise from non-EU countries

Like all EU individuals, Italy imposes a common levy on imported items coming from non-EU nations like the United States, Japan, China, and Canada. On the off chance that you bring more than one watch into Italy it just might be dependent upon an import obligation of 22% in Italy.

The esteem breaking point of imported merchandise is €175.50. From there on, you will be evaluated the 22% import duty.

Goods bought in Italy

Italy has numerous obligation free shops. Should you buy things that are not obligation free, you may wish to acquire a refund of the VAT paid (at a pace of 24.2 percent) when leaving the country.

The least buy sum invested at one energy at one store to present a VAT refund in Italy is €154.94. So you’re in an ideal situation discovering one spot where you can purchase a few things whose all out collects to the VAT refund minimum.

Many shops will eliminate the VAT (IVA) from the cost of the thing prior to bringing the deal to a close. In the event that not, apparently you will announce your buys at the line when leaving Italy. As usual, you need to keep all deals slips.

Obtaining a VAT refund

Many individuals apply for their VAT refunds at the air terminal prior to leaving Italy. The initial step is to go to the air terminal traditions office and enter the IVA refund line.

The customs official will audit the entirety of your buys and compare them with your receipts. The official will stamp all receipts. Significant buys, like a watch, should coordinate chronic numbers on the receipt, the watch case, the guarantee card, and elsewhere it may appear.

Panerai Radiomir 1940 Chronograph

If you managed a portion of the bigger traders, they are probably going to have a branch at the air terminal. Chief Tax Free is perhaps the most common. Take your stepped receipts to the trader branch and get your money IVA refund right there.

If your trader has no air terminal branch mail your stepped receipt to them, mentioning an IVA refund. Obviously you may never see a refund or at any point hear from the dealer. Regardless of whether they ought to send your refund it might come as a check in euros. You’ll probably lose a piece of your refund in change expenses and unfamiliar money translation.

United States

If you need to bring some important unfamiliar made itemsback into the U.S. that you claimed prior to leaving – like watches and gems – you can enroll them at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office or at the air terminal. You’ll need the things and their chronic numbers to round out the enlistment structures. Whenever they’re completed and recorded you shouldn’t have any issues bringing your assets back into the U.S. on your return.

The U.S. has an assessment exclusion of $800 per individual on things purchased abroad. Relatives can combine their $800 charge exceptions in a joint affirmation of value.

Items esteemed $1,000 over the exception are charged at 3%. Past that, the duty rate moves to 6.5 percent.

RGM Caliber 801 Classic Enamel

 You ought to proclaim watches and adornments you bought abroad. It doesn’t make any difference if they’re for your business, from obligation free shops, or endowments you got. Proclaim them.

The obligation free status of things bought in obligation free shops just applies in the country where they were bought. You just may need to pay an import obligation on them when you enter the U.S.

Shipping from outside nations into the U.S.

Someone with experience in transportation buys from Europe to the U.S. to evade U.S. Customs obligation has revealed to me that transportation by USPS instead of some other transporter (particularly FedEx, I’m told) is less inclined to revelation, demanding a fine and the traditions obligation payable. All things being equal, the CBP is complex to the point that it would shock me if the escape clause of delivery available products into the U.S. has not previously been found and hammered shut.

My counsel? Try not to attempt it. The fine whenever found is far more prominent than simply paying the tax.

Managing your VAT refund

There are applications accessible to help with computing the VAT refund, finding its refund point should you need it paid in real money instead of credited to your charge card, and keeping tabs on its development worldwide.

One of the applications I revealed in my exploration for this article was Global Blue . There are others including WeVat Tax Refund, Stamp-Tax-Free, and Custom Cash—Tax Free Shopping.

Final expressions of advice

Don’t take a stab at avoiding the traditions framework. Any sum you may save in obligation and VAT installments would be more than gobbled up in case you’re gotten. Also, you’ll very probably be caught.

Few easygoing voyagers are proficient dealers. In any case, each custom specialist is a prepared proficient. The chances are so far against you.

Be fair when addressed by specialists. Be polite. Try not to be cautious. They’re simply attempting to do their jobs.

If you truly don’t have any desire to manage the traditions framework, leave your resources at home and don’t accepting anything on your outing. However, where’s the fun in that?

Safe travels.

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