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Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Austin TX
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Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

I am re-posting this message for awareness.

How to deal with the Customs Officials in Mumbai International Airport?

Look Confident. :) And Talk more Confidently.

I am an Indian Citizen and in August 2012 was the first time I traveled to India on business. I was travelling with a colleague who is an American. We went to Taiwan and from Taiwan to Mumbai.

And of course, when we reached Mumbai, my American colleague was let through...he was carrying a SLR Cam, a Laptop, a Kindle, a portable DVD Player, and a Smart Phone. And of course, I was stopped by the Customs Officer for through check when I was carrying 3 electronics devices (Laptop, iPhone and Kindle) as opposed to 5 things my colleague was carrying.

I am very annoyed by the discrimination and made it very clear to the Officer that I am annoyed. He demanded the prices of my Kindle and my Laptop. I asked him to give me his phone with International calling so that I can call my Employer in US for the price of the Laptop and my husband for the price of the Kindle. That shut him up.

Then he opened my bags and started quizzing me on what is this and what is that. I told him to check and re-pack, as I am NOT going to pack up after them.

Then next he started quizzing me on how much liquor I bought in Duty free..which was the tip of it all. I sternly told him that I have been travelling back and forth for 8 years from the US to India, and know all the rules. So, he is free to check everything he wants in my luggage, I sat on a nearby chair and told him I will wait with my Colleague while he checks it all.

That did it. He asked me to leave when he realized I am not going to come around and get scared and pay him any money in bribes. I was confident that I am abiding by all rules so he cannot hold me for any reason.

Unfortunately, this same incident happened to my husband last year (2011) and this year it was repeated with me. So, I was aware, but I know a lot of people are not prepared. I hope this post helps.

Bottom line is, Customs Officers in Mumbai International Airport are going back to their Corrupt ways, which is disappointing. This should be progressing forward and not going backwards.

Be confident. Don't offer money to settle the matter if you know what you are doing is legal.

Check the website for details:

http://www.cbec.gov.in/travellers.htm

Nowy Sacz, Poland
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1. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

There is nothing in your report to suggest the customs officer asked anything other than what I'd expect him to ask a citizen entering India. If your report tells it all, I think you asked to be arrested.

Austin TX
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2. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Well...I think I should add more details. I definitely don't want to get arrested. :)

The singling out of Passengers for checks just based on who they are travelling with or if they are travelling alone is not what I expect the Customs Officer to do if it was an honest check. When asked, if he saw something suspicious in my bags, there was no answer, instead the Officer just pointed to a lady officer to take me to the side for through check. Which I thought was vague.

If this was a true check for suspicion, my Bags should have been thoroughly checked, which did not happen. The Officer didn't want to go through the pain of checking, felt like he was more interested in scaring me. He was interested in checking if my iPhone was new or not. When he realized it is a 3G, he was not interested in it anymore. He moved his focus to my Kindle which was relatively new. I was asked random questions when everything I was carrying that was within the defined Guidelines of Customs (electronics allowances for personal use). I was asked about the Duty free chopping when in my experience in Bombay, the Duty free shops are very careful not to sell anything more than the allowed limit to any Customer. He made he open all the packaging on Duty Free just to check what kind of Liquor I had bought.

The best part was, I bought bulbs of Orchid in Taiwan which are allowed since they are packaged, but just as a precaution, I declared them on the Customs form. I was not quizzed on that at all. I was asked questions about everything else BUT the thing I honestly chose to declare.

None of this sounds like a honest random check to me. In fact, when I was done with this charades, a couple of people standing around made a comment, that this has been happening often on Bombay Airport and it is sheer harassment.

I agree the Officials have a right to pick me for random check, but I as a Citizen also have a right to know what is going on and not just be given random answers.

Mumbai (Bombay...
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3. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

@Gotsums

I have sent you a personal message. Please respond.

In addition, i want to ask that why did the custom officer ask about the laptop since i believe the laptop is free of any duty from what i know unless a single person is carrying more than one.

Additionally does it help to carry bills of each and every electronics that we buy in USA to prove their price and most importantly that they are used ? I have things which are 6 months to 1 year old used. They are personal only and without any box.

Apart from that since i am coming back after 1+ year, is there separate allowances for someone like me ?

Will it help to carry the customs page printout that you referred in the other thread ?

Edited: 04 October 2012, 00:09
Mumbai (Bombay...
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4. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Additionally the below link...

http://www.cbec.gov.in/travellers.htm

still mentions the limit as 25000 instead of 35000. I believe this was revised in 2012 budget.

Austin TX
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5. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Exactly my point, why ask about the price on anything that is allowed to carry as a passenger? I guess it is just intimidation tactics and harassment.

My suggestion would be make sure to not carry anything illegal or out of bounds for the custom rules. I have never carried the receipts as I have always carried electronics that are for personal use. So, I am sorry but won't be able to answer that for sure. In general, i feel it is a good idea to carry receipts if you have things to declare that is if you are carrying anything that is out of the allowed customs allowance.

I don't think you have special allowance since you are coming back after 1+ year. You might want to check the baggage rules if you are moving back to India. I know in case of a move(to or from India) there are extra baggage allowances. Check with the airlines.

The customs form is mandatory. Declaring in the form is something you have to figure out based on the customs rules mentioned on the form and online.

It may sound weird but really be confident if you know you are not doing anything wrong. If they stop you, just don't say much and don't give out information that is not asked for. Stick to one word answers. If they want to check your bags, don't resist. Let them check and wait patiently.

Thanks for the update on the link. I will also reply to your message. Please keep in mind, this is just my personal opinion based on my personal experience.

Mumbai (Bombay...
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6. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Since i am returning after an year, i checked the following part in the link

SPECIAL ALLOWANCES FOR PROFESSIONALS RETURNING TO INDIA

Here they have mentioned

Used household articles and personal effects (which have been in the possession and use abroad of the passenger or his family for at least six months) and which are not mentioned in Annex.I , Annex. II & Annex. III upto an aggregate value of Rs.75,000/-

This is for someone coming after 365 days which should be applicable in my case. Or i am reading it wrong ? And yes i am moving back to India and not going back.

MUMBAI
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7. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Hello Gotsums

You may have an experience of your kind as said. There are exception of custom officers who are just greed lust.But many a times they have intelligence report and some tip offs and they suspect some wrong doing so as a duty bound they do their duty.

This happens when you accompany some foreign national and they may have pre information on suspect and may fall in line with that so do excessive check. Although we may feel intimidate despite being genuine as are not aware of their psyche.

Well if one is sure & confident of the rules than one also need to declare all the items on them on the custom form as in the case of Tulip.So the officer is sure that you do not have anything to hide

Many a time they may be mistook for their diligent duty.You had such a incidence only once after your several regular visit to India .So this is not a regular incidence at the airport.

rak07

Why are you so worrisome when you have all the custom acts & supporting bills & receipts with you. Just carry with you and prove your point if at all questioned by the officer.Just declare if you feel you have nothing to suppress in line with the act than I suppose you should sail smoothly.

Mumbai (Bombay...
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8. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Usually the customs at Mumbai is pretty breezy and seldom are tourists (including Indians returning), business travellers bothered though sometimes there are mistakes in random checking/intelligence based action. By the way asking the customs officer to repack your luggage is a bit arrogant I thought and would have attracted a rude reply from the officers elsewhere....

Mumbai (Bombay...
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9. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

The intelligence report and all is fine but the main reason we feel bothered is because there is history of harassment from the Mumbai customs and they are known to be corrupt.

I have myself been questioned before.

MUMBAI
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10. Re: Customs (corrupt) Officials - Mumbai International Airport

Hello rak007

If you feel to be bothered because of past history & known to have corrupt officials and have been questioned before than why get the goods along as all the products are easily available in the country.Questioning /grilling is their job function.

It may be harassment for passenger but it is their call of their duty to grill & get the wrong doer.

The corruption originates when a person wants to save on duty & not pay the Government its due.Otherwise if abide by the law & or pay legitimate corruption will not prevail.

Edited: 04 October 2012, 15:50