Bringing in Household Goods - Customs
Foreigners who enter Korea for a stay of at least two years may bring in used household goods duty-free at the time of entry or within six months of arrival. If you have forgotten things or discover unforeseen needs later and are able to have them shipped, make sure that they will arrive well before the deadline of six months. If your items re arriving separately by ship, be sure to note that on the custom forms when you arrive at Incheon International Airport. All items must be used, so remove price tags and other indications of recent purchase. You are permitted to import articles only for your family’s personal use and in amounts deemed appropriate for the intended length of stay. Excessive amounts of any item may be inspected at customs.
Items such as appliances and furniture considered normal for a household will usually be cleared as tax exempt, but these rules are often rather vague. Golf clubs, computers, video equipment, fur coats and expensive cameras are noted in their owner’s passports on many occasions and must be taken out of the country or left in bond each time you leave Korea. If you are leaving for a short trip, have your company’s business manager find out the method of filling out the appropriate paperwork so that you do not have to takes the items each time you leave.
Before you sell an item during your stay in Korea, be sure to check if you are required to have it with you when you leave. Many foreign-made (considered to be ‘luxury’ items here) require tax payment and documents in order to be legally dropped from your ownership.
Having survived packing, arrival and may hotel living, new residents wait in a state of limbo for the arrival of their household goods. Finally, the notification arrives. Just because the ship has come into the port does not mean, however, that your shipment can be immediately off-loaded. Often, there is a backlog and the ships must wait to unload your cargo, and even then, there is a waiting time for customs inspectors to get to your container(s).
An agent or company representative is essential for this task. Make sure you have a list of all the items you sent when you arrive in Korea and the customs form that was given to you at Incheon International Airport indicating that you have ‘unaccompanied goods” coming to Korea later.
Customs requirements do change frequently, so be sure to have your company (employer) check and find out exactly what forms are required. This can be very important, especially if you are going down to Busan to claim your goods. (Your shipment may come directly to Seoul so the trip to Busan is not always necessary). A company representative who is used to dealing with the cultural business practices and psyche of the customs agents will help considerably.
- Passports of all family members.
- Bills of landing, one original and two non-negotiable, and a packing list
- A statement from your employer attesting to your employment and intended length of stay. This must be notarized at your Embassy. Bring a copy of our contract. They may issue you a Certificate of assignment. You will probably already have this notarized letter since it was probably required to get the original visa.
- A Certificate of Entry and Unaccompanied Baggage is issued upon arrival at Incheon Airport only if you indicate that you have unaccompanied baggage arriving later. You will obtain this certificate and stamps in your passport for sensitive items that you carried with you at the Passenger Handling Section.
Check if goods can be shipped, in bond, directly from the port of entry to Seoul for customs inspection. If you expect the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised when the experience is merely harrowing.
Examine the shipping container carefully. Check for water stains or broken boxes. If there are any obvious signs of damage, ask the insurance agent for a surveyor so that blame is not shifted between the different firms that handled your shipment. In case of loss or damage, file a claim immediately. Official claims should also be filed with the agent at the point of origin.
Editor's Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing. Given how difficult it is to obtain clear and complete information in Korea as well as how quickly rules can change, please see this as a guide and do follow-up with the appropriate Korean government bodies to confirm its accuracy and/or to get the most current answers. K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date.
Last Updated on 2011-02-06
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