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Thread: Importing into the DR, FAQ

  1. #21
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    I got the impression that the guy that "helped" me did this every day, all day. There were about a dozen guys just like him hanging around outside looking for "lost" importers like I was that day. It all started when I asked for directions.

    "we all know why". I don't know why. Do tell.

    I didn't ask many questions during the process. I was much more interested in observing every detail of what was going on there at the airport and I had a hard time understanding what I call "Campo", this dialect of mumble as far as I can tell. Anyway, the answers tended to be along the line of "don't worry about it, go stand over there, be patient, and don't draw attention."

    What I observed, was that the amount of reductions obtained was almost what the "broker" expected to get in return, that the cashier often "miskeyed" when typing the bill to be paid at another window if she got the wink-wink signal from her "friends" who were extremely careful not to be "noticed", and that her willingness to do so seemed proportional to the attention that the customer did not draw and her level of comfort that her and her associates would somehow get compensated for her "mistakes", that the customs guys were strictly by the book, that the operation was set up in a way so as to intentionally prevent the people involved from communicating with each other (and thereby preventing "agreements"), and that the customs guys were strictly by the book, literally, a big big book. Also that there as an advantage to having unassembled parts vs. the more valuable finished product, and that looking confused was better than looking informed as the customs guys seemed paranoid of making a mistake. There was definitely no corruption going on with them, as the process had a quadruple check built into it, each by a different person, none of whom actually collected the fees. The fees paid were documented by an intense paper trail. So one person processed the papers, 4 people did the valuation, and 2 different people collected the money, all in a way that would have made it very difficult to get a break without a grand conspiricy having been prearranged. Each step of the process was conducted in a way so that the customer, me, would not be able to discuss what was going on during the process. They kept retreating to areas that were sealed off from the customer yet all walled in by clear plexiglass so that everything took place in private but in plain view.

    The warehouse floor was as organized as a junk drawer and filthy. Not with with trash, but dirt and dust, the kind where one bump into a box on the "factory" floor leaves one of those marks on your clothes that I can only relate to what I get when I accidentally bump into my car while getting gas after a week of drivig around in snow melt, slush, dirt, and salt during a midwinter in Detroit.

    My wait during that day was mostly sitting on the concrete in the sun outside a loading dock in a very industrial and boring environment with nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to eat or drink, and most the time spent with the anxiety of having no idea what the hell the process was, what I was waiting for, what was taking so long, or what to do next.

    I concur with everyone, get a broker or pack your lunch and bring a cushion and a book. This of course is for importing something small (less than 500 lbss) that arrives at the airport.

    I'm amazed at all the trouble the country goes through to do what I would term as "discourage" imports, the cost of which gets passed on to their own citizens, and surprised after seeing all this that imported items aren't much more expensive by the time they hit the shelves, considering all the little fees they hit you with: 5% here, 4% there, it all adds up.

    The one that really got me was the 13% "fee" to exchange money and exchange goods, guaranteeing that they get 13% off the top in addition to any and all the taxes and fees. And that's 13% of the cost of the item, 13% of the insurance which is mandatory, and 13% of the cost of shipping. I don't remember the details, that was a combination of two fees, the exchange fee and the goods exchange fee (ITBIS). It is possible that one of them wasn't charged against the insurance and shipping and I know that since I did it 2 or 3 years ago, the fees have changed or vary depending on what you are importing. That alone guarantees that everything in the DR that is imported costs about 20% more than at its place of origin, and that's without considering the cost of import itself (shipping, insurance, labor, broker fee) and taxes (duty).

    I had read about the consular invoice fee, which I avoided because my item was under some amount, I think it was US$1000, which would have delayed arrival, increased my shipping cost, plus added another fee.

    Talk about discouraging trade! No wonder everybody just loads up their luggage and has no problem greasing a few palms to let them slide by hassle free.

  2. #22
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    Default Thanks Johnny

    That's just the info I was looking for! What did the air freight cost? Still trying to convince my wife this will fly...or ride as the case may be.

  3. #23
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    Depends on where yore flying from.It cost me 1000 cdn from Toronto 3 years ago as you have to have the bike crated before shipping,you need to check with the airline cargo dept.
    J.H.
    btw:There are only 2 Indians on the island that I know of and both are antiques.

  4. #24
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    How many Harley's, etc., are around? Are the roads condusive to doing much riding at all? Is there just the one Harley dealership on the South Coast?

    Edited by Robert

    Post this question in the appropriate forum. This message and any responses will eventually be deleted.

    Let's try and keep this thread to specific questions and answers, no chit chat, thanks.

  5. #25
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    The reason why I don't want to answer questions on specific shipments is because no self-respected professional would give advice over the internet on an specific case. It can be misleading and I am working based on erroneus information and asumptions.

    As a mental exercise it goes like this:

    Price of the motorcycle + freight + insurance (if you didn't obtain insurance use 2% of the price of the bike). = CIF value

    Duties: 20% CIF
    Selectivo al consumo: 20% CIF
    ITBIS: 12% CIF
    Recargo cambiario: 4.75% CIF
    Portuaria: Unknown, depends on the time it spends at the port and weight, at most it will be a couple of thousand pesos.

    Jim: I would bet that there was corruption involved. You just didn't notice it, or no transaction was made in front of you. Furthermore, you just said that the guy forged some papers and lied about prices. That is what happens in real life... and I cannot say what can be done in a public forum, just what SHOULD be done. That's why people should hire a broker instead of just relying on my posts that are only intended to give them an idea of how things are supposed to be.

    By the way, Customs has 3 years to collect due taxes if they find out you that you didn't pay what you should have paid. I know MANY cases in which this has been done, it is not so rare.

  6. #26
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    Very, very good stuff. End result? GO SEE A CUSTOMS BROKER FIRST, LAST, ALWAYS.

    Thanks PIB,

    HB

    Moderator DR1.com

  7. #27
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    Default great thread

    Great thread Pib.Invaluable for future reference.Thank you and thanks to Jim H and Johnny for relaying their experiences.Very informative.
    Larry

  8. #28
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    I had posted this in another thread. I will include it in this one since I will keep it bookmarked for future references:

    "It seems that you already figured out how the system works. It's corrupt, it stinks, it ___ (add epithet of your choice here). Having agreed on that, let's move on to solutions, after being in the business for a few years I think I could give you one of two pieces of advice. As lhtown wisely told you it all comes down to getting a good customs broker. Here is how to do it:

    Talk to other businessmen importing the same products that you do. Ask them about what broker they use, how long they've used them and if they are happy with the job. Of course nobody will be 100% happy, but you get my point.

    Decide which way you want to go. The easy/cheapest way out is to play by the "rules of the house". There are loopholes in the system, a good broker can find a few for you. Some perfectly legal, some require bending a few rules.

    Meet with a few brokers, tell them to give you an estimate of what you will be paying in taxes. Give them as much information as possible. They are after all the defense, not the prosecution.

    Select a broker the same way you would select a lawyer for a criminal case (sorry that I make it sound like that). If you decide to work with a reputable firm you will have the advantage of years of experience and the guarantee that comes with a firm that has money to lose if they mess. On the other hand a firm usually has a name to look after, sometimes they will not do some "dirty tricks" that could save you big bucks, sometimes it's better to find yourself a broker, not a firm.

    Don't take your broker's word for granted, after all it's your money anyways. I suggest that for the first shipments you accompany him (but don't interfere) to see how things go at the port and how much money "exchange hands" in the process. There is always a "handling fee" that corresponds to that. It can ammount to some big money, so you would like to know if he is really "paying" it or if he just wants to make some extra money by charging you more. If you don't speak Spanish or look "too gringo" get someone you trust do this. It's better if you look like someone that is "just accompanying" your broker.

    Decide which will be a priority for you: cost or time. Putting too much pressure on your broker to get things out fast will lead to you paying more. Plan ahead for those delays."
    Last edited by Pib; 01-26-2003 at 01:03 PM.

  9. #29
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    Originally posted by Pib
    By the way, Customs has 3 years to collect due taxes if they find out you that you didn't pay what you should have paid. I know MANY cases in which this has been done, it is not so rare.
    I did pay what I was supposed to pay, for how can I pay anything besides what the officials told me to pay. The customs officials ignored the paperwork and valued my stuff from their big book based on parts, which is all it was until I put it together (in the water, after which I take it back apart - it's a portable slalon course - just PVC pipes, rope on a reel, inflatable balls with elastic cords, and 2 anchors).

    They didn't value it based on any paperwork (I'm not sure they would have anyway), which showed what I paid. I guess this collection of parts together as a whole was worth more than the sum of its parts. That's how the company selling it makes money. I think finished goods are taxed differently than parts, but it WAS parts until I put it together. Anyway, isn't what I paid for the parts irrellavent? They wouldn't lower my fee if I got a deal and paid almost nothing, why should they raise my fee if I paid more than their books say the stuff is worth? Does this argument pass muster in your eyes? Don't they have a copy of the original paperwork anyway?

    They'll have send out a team to find me to get that $100 they should have charged me, as I never stop moving and I change my look everyday and I only move in shadows. And if they catch me, no more half eaten sandwiches for THEM! Ahh, they forgot about that little benefit from my frequent arrivals.

  10. #30
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    I don't think they will go after you Jim, that money is peanuts. Furthermore you tell me that you didn't give them a cedula number (another thing paid by corruption), so you are faceless name for them.

    I just wanted to point out that late collection is routinely done, what you pay is not final and may be audited later. Depending on a number of factors (a good broker being the most important of all) they will consider it an honest mistake and you'll only have to pay the remaining taxes... or you'll be fined to high heaven too. Or have your business closed (Tokio Motors, Curacao anyone?) until you "fix" your problems with Customs.

    It is important that people know that however corrupt the system is there is accountability, one can never be too careful lest one end in the front pages. I think that for the next installment I should write about all the steps that can be taken if you and Customs don't agree on the ammount to pay.

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