Returning Residents Guide

The process of moving home can be daunting and exhausting but armed with the necessary information and a firm plan of action, the process can go fairly smoothly. Since its founding in 1992, Besco Shippers Inc., a Philadelphia-based company, has been assisting overseas nationals to resettle in their homeland, providing port-to-port and port to residence service as part of their large scale ocean and air transportation operation.

Having worked in the shipping industry for several years, and personally taking charge of the relocation efforts of scores of returning residents, we tapped Besco Shippers Inc. CEO, Mr. Anthony Harding for some practical advice on relocating to Jamaica. What can they expect, what are the requirements and what are the main questions returning residents usually want answered.

The following guide is provided courtesy of Besco Shippers Inc.



Q: How long do I have to ship all my goods?

A: Within six months. An extension of this grace period may be granted in special circumstances.

Q: What year motor vehicle will I be able to import?

A: Currently used motor cars should not be more than 3 years old and 4 years for light commercial vehicles. An import license is needed to import such vehicles.

Q: Will my motor vehicle come in duty free?

A: No. All motor vehicles are subject to full customs duty.

Q: I own a Volvo 10 years old, can I ship it to Jamaica?

A: Yes, but you will need to get a waiver from the Trade Board Limited and the Ministry of Finance and Planning in Jamaica before the vehicle will be allowed entry.

Q: Can I ship home my medical equipment, plumbing equipment or studio equipment?

A: Yes. Items of this nature are called tools of trade and do qualify for duty free status.

Q: Will I be allowed to return with my pets?

A: Owner of pets must obtain a permit from the Veterinary Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. (Dogs not bred in the United Kingdom will not be allowed entry).



Who is eligible to be a returning resident?

  • Jamaican national over 18 years of age living in a foreign country for more than three years.
  • Student living in a foreign country for more than a year.
  • Jamaicans who have US, UK or Canadian citizenship and who desire to return home.
  • Deportees who have lived overseas for more than three years (Must provide proof of residency from country deported).
  • Non Jamaican spouses also qualify for returning resident status.

Do I need a custom broker to clear my goods?

Yes, a licensed custom broker knows the requirements and procedures and can facilitate faster clearance and delivery of your goods.

How do I go about shipping my furniture or tools of trade?

  • If returning with furniture or tools of trade it is best to use a 20/40 ft container.
  • Use an established shipping company or freight forwarder who will pack your items and arrange for transportation and will issue a Bill of Lading.
  • Make a comprehensive list of items you wish to take. This is called a manifest.

How long can I keep my cargo at the wharf before storage is incurred?

Once the cargo has arrived, the cargo is ready for processing. You have approximately seven days to claim your cargo before storage is applied.



Step 1

Ask the custom official at the airport for Form C27 (Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration Form) or “Yellow Paper”. Once you have been notified that your container or goods have arrived and are ready for clearance, you should then visit the Returning Resident Unit of the Jamaica Custom Head Office located in Kingston/Montego Bay to attend a brief interview. You must take with you the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Form C27 (yellow paper)
  • Bill of Lading (validated)
  • Manifest
  • Documentary evidence to show that you resided outside of Jamaica for more than three years. These may include water bill, gas bill, phone bill, retirement letter, letter of separation from employer, the previous year’s tax return, pay stub,W2 form.
  • Copy of retirement and pension papers.
  • Proof that you are going to start a business.

When all of the criteria are met the interviewing officer will stamp the relevant form/s (C27) giving you the concessions and certifying  your Returning Resident status.

Step 2

Visit the Customs Manifest Branch located at the cargo section of the port of entry where your shipment is consigned. You should take with you the Bill of Lading and Form C27.

These documents will be validated by the custom officer in charge.

Wharf charges and relevant fees are applicable.

Step 3

Once your container is positioned at the container station, the Custom Examination Officer will cut the shipping seal. You are expected to be present when the container is being inspected. Most if not all of your goods/furniture will be examined, as presented on the shipping manifest. Items that are in excess will be subject to customs duty. After the inspection is complete, the container will be closed and a gate pass will be issued for removal.

Goods that are not duty free are building material, tyres, kitchen cabinets, motor bikes and automobiles.

Step 4

Once the container of goods is ready, arrangements should be made for trucking your cargo to your residence for off loading.

Usually, it is expected that helpers, friends, family members will be present to offload the cargo in a timely manner. The container is not yours to keep and it has to be returned to the port, usually the same day.

Fees are applicable when using the services of Licensed Custom Broker.

Now, welcome home!



In order to qualify as a Returning Resident and benefit from the concessions relating to personal and household effects and/or tools of trade, the following requirements must be met:

  • Be a Jamaican national who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years;
  • Have been resident overseas for not less than three (3) consecutive years;
  • Be returning to Jamaica to reside permanently.

Special Cases

  • Non-Jamaican male spouses or persons who qualify for returning resident status are afforded the same concessions as their Jamaican partner.

This provision applied previously only to non-Jamaican female spouses of returning residents.

  • A couple will be treated as one family if they return together

Spouses who do not return together but do so within three (3) years of each other are treated as one family and are entitled to only one (1) concession.

  • Students who have attained the age of eighteen (18) years who have studied abroad for more than one (1) year, but less than three (3) years qualify for concessions in respect of tools of trade; some normally dutiable items which may be new or used; and used household effects.

Eligibility to receive concessions as a Returning Resident is determined by the Jamaica Customs Department. This must be sought after arrival in Jamaica, and before beginning the process of clearance of personal and household effects and tools of trade.

The importation of items should be done within six (6) months before or after the arrival of the returning resident.

It is necessary to attend an interview at the Returning Residents Unit of the Customs Department at the head office in Kingston or Montego Bay.

The following documents must be presented at the interview:

  • Valid passport; if recently issued, expired passport must also be presented.
  • Documentary evidence to substantiate residence outside of Jamaica for more than the last three (3) consecutive years (Short visits to Jamaica for vacation do not affect eligibility).
  • Documentary evidence to substantiate intention to re-establish permanent residence in Jamaica.
  • In the case of students, a letter from the university, college or educational institution attended, confirming the duration of the course of study or time spent at the institution.
  • The Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration Form (C27) (obtainable at the airport/seaport on arrival in Jamaica);
  • Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) card
  • Validated Bill of Lading

Documentation may include one of the following, but is not limited to:


  • Notarized Letter of Separation from employer
  • Tax returns for the last three (3) years
  • Pay stubs,W2 forms for the last three (3) years
  • Evidence of bills honoured
  • Copy of Retirement Papers/Pension Advice
  • Proof of recent disposal of property (for example, sale agreement)


  • Proof of property acquired/title
  • Utility Bills
  • Property Tax Receipts
  • Lease Agreement/Rent Receipt
  • Notarized Letter from prospective employer/ employment contract.


  • Copy of I-20 Form as appropriate
  • Copy of Transcript


  • Interview at the Returning Residents Unit of the Customs Department (Full declaration of the items must be made).
  • Inspection of the personal and household effects and tools of trade.
  • Release of the personal and household effects and tools of trade.

Importation of Motor Vehicles

Any Jamaican over eighteen (18) years old may import two (2) motor vehicles, whether a motor car and a light commercial unit or two light commercial units.

Used vehicles should not be more than three (3) years old in the case of motor cars, or four (4) years old in the case of light commercial vehicles, at the time of importation.

Applications for the importation of classic/antique/limited edition motor vehicles MUST be accompanied by documentary support from the Jamaica Classic Car Club, as well as documentary evidence that the unit falls within the definition and categories specified by the Motor Vehicle Import Policy.

Prospective importers of vehicles for agricultural use seeking duty concession MUST FIRST obtain approval through the relevant parish office of the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) prior to importation. The Trade Board requires evidence of any duty concession An import licensee is NOT required for 7 the importation of oversized vehicles (heavy-duty trucks, tractors and trailers – three (3) tons and over unladen weight).

However, importers MUST FIRST obtain written permission from the Island Traffic Authority, which falls under the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, BEFORE importing such units.

A Certificate of Fitness is required only for motor vehicles to be imported from a country where it is a statutory requirement that vehicles be examined and certified prior to shipment. Vehicles imported from countries where they drive on the right must be modified to allow passengers to enter/exit on the curbside of the road and for the beam of the headlamps to reflect down on the left horizontal plane or up and down on the vertical plane.

Import licences issued by the Trade Board Limited are valid for the duration of the financial year in which they are granted, that is, the period 1st April to 31st March of any given year or remaining portion thereof.

An importer must obtain an Import License from the Trade Board BEFORE shipping the vehicle.

The importer should submit the application form (The Order and Clearance Permit) in triplicate to the Trade Board. These forms may be obtained from the Trade Board for a fee of J$35, or from the respective Missions overseas for a fee of US$1, CDN$1 or £1.

Applications must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • Pro-forma invoice from the dealer for a new vehicle.
  • Certificate of title or registration
  • Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) (photocopy of both sides of the card should be attached).
  • Certified copies of two (2) forms of identification which may be any of the following:
  • Passport ( Bio-data pages )
  • Driver’s licence (both sides)
  • Electoral Identification Card

Copies of the identification documents must be certified by a Justice of the Peace/Notary Public or by a Consular Officer at any Jamaican Mission overseas.

The fee for the processing of the Import License is the equivalent of J$3,495 and is payable by cheque, international money order or postal order to the Trade Board Limited.This fee is non refundable.

Applications are processed within 24 hours of receipt by the Trade Board. The Import License must be collected in person or by a Customs Broker acting on the importer’s behalf or to an individual authorized by the importer.

Applications for an Import License may be made through the Trade Board Information System (TBIS). The Trade Board’s website at provides details on this system.

The penalty for importing a motor vehicle without a valid import permit is a fine equivalent to three (3) times the value of the vehicle and seizure of the vehicle.




The importation of pets and other animals into the country requires a permit from the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. This permit, which must be obtained prior to importation, attracts a fee. Certain conditions, as well as other customs, quarantine and veterinary fees are also applicable.

It should be noted that in the case of dogs and cats, only those that are born and bred in the United Kingdom may be imported into Jamaica.

Certification to this effect must be obtained from the relevant authority in the United Kingdom.

Plants & Plants Products

A phyto-sanitary permit is required for the importation of plants and plant products. The application for such permit should be submitted in writing to the Chief Quarantine Officer, Ministry of Agriculture and should indicate the items, quantities and country of origin.

Prohibited or Banned Substances

The importation of equipment and appliances containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is prohibited.

Equipment such as, refrigerators/freezers and air-conditioners for domestic, commercial and motor vehicular use may fall in this category.

Details of prohibited or banned substances and goods may be obtained from the Trade Board.

General Goods

Returning Residents should also be aware of the possibility that certain goods might require an import permit or other certification. Therefore, it is advisable to clarify the status of a particular item with the Trade Board in the event of any doubt.



It is anticipated that most persons will comply with the various regulations and conditions relating to the concessions and assistance given to Returning Residents. In cases of abuse of any concessions, the law provides for a number of stiff penalties for non-compliance with the regulations and conditions.

Penalties include: Punitive customs duty; fines and confiscation of illegally imported items.



  • Import Licence
  • Title
  • Invoice-if the odometer reading is under 3000 miles
  • Bill of Lading
  • Bill of Sight
  • Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) and Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), which can be obtained from the Tax Administration Services Department.
  • C-78/ Import Entry – primary import document on which the particulars of the motor vehicle: the importer, shipment details, duties paid, are recorded. This is prepared and submitted to Customs by the licensed customs broker.

The services of a customs broker must be secured to clear the vehicle as the individual is not permitted to do so.

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Jamaican High Commission in the United Kingdom

1-2 Prince Consort Road

London, SW7 2BZ


Tel: (44) 207 823 9911

Fax: (44) 207 589 5154



Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 9:00am – 5:00pm

Friday  9:00am – 4:00pm

Jamaican High Commission Ottawa

Standard Life Building

275 Slater Street, Suite 800

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H9


Tel: (613) 233 9311

Fax: (613) 452 0611


Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

Embassy of Jamaica, Washington

1520 New Hampshire Avenue, N. W.

Washington, D. C. 20036,


Tel: (202) 452 0660

Fax: (202) 452 0081


Consulate General of Jamaica, Miami

Ingraham Building

25 South East 2nd Avenue, Suite 609

Miami 33131, Florida, USA

Tel: (305) 374 8431-2

Fax: (305) 577 4970


Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00am- 12noon

Consulate General of Jamaica, Toronto

303 Eglinton Avenue East

Toronto, Ontario M4P 1L3

Tel: (416) 598 3008

(416) 698 3035/ 2639

Fax: (416) 598 4928


Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO)

Head Office

18 Trafalgar Road

Kingston 10

Tel: (876) 978 7755

(876) 978 3337

Toll free: 1- 877-INVESTJA (468-4352)

Fax: (876) 946 0090



JAMPRO London / Jamaica Trade Commission

c/o Jamaica High Commission

1 Prince Consort Road

London SW7 2BZ


Tel: (44) 020 7584 8894

Fax: (44) 020 823 9886


JAMPRO North American Regional Office / Jamaica Trade Commission

Jamaican Consulate-General

767 Third Avenue, Suite 221

New York, NY 10017

Tel: (212) 935 9000

(212) 308 5056

Toll free: 1-877-JAMVEST (526-8378)

Fax: (212) 308 5230


Passport, Immigration & Citizenship Agency (Montego Bay)

Shop 40-41 Overton Plaza

49 Union Street

Montego Bay, St. James

Telephone: 952-5380-1

Fax: 940-6930


Office of the Commissioner of Police

101-103 Old Hope Rd

Kingston 6

Tel: (876) 927 4421

(876) 926 8793

Fax: (876) 927-7516

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

Hope Gardens

Kingston 6

Tel:(876) 927 1743

(876) 927 1750

Fax:(876) 977 1875



Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA)

Hope Gardens

Kingston 6

Tel: (876) 977 1158-62

Fax: (876) 927 1592


Besco Shippers Inc.

 5425 Baltimore Avenue

 Philadelphia, PA 19143

 Office: (215) 472-3660

 Mobile: (610) 453-7825

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

21 Dominica Drive

P.O. Box 624

Kingston 5

Tel: (876) 926 4220

Fax: (876) 929 6733


Diaspora and Consular Affairs Department


Consulate General of Jamaica, New York

767 Third Avenue

New York 10017, NY, USA

Tel: (212) 935 9000

Fax: (212) 935-7507



Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

JAMPRO Montego Bay

UGI Building, 2nd Floor

30 Market Street

Montego Bay, St. James

Tel: (876) 952 3420

Fax: (876) 952 1384

Passport, Immigration & Citizenship Agency (PICA)

25c Constant Spring Road

Kingston 10

Tel: (876) 754-PICA (7422)

(876) 754-4742

Fax: (876) 906 4372



National Land Agency

93 Hanover Street


Tel: (876) 922 7565

(876)922 8702



Ministry of Labour & Social Security

1F North Street


Tel: (876) 922 9500 (Employment Section)

        (876) 922 8000 (Welfare Section:)

Fax: (876) 948 7042



Ministry of Industry, Ivestment and Commerce

4 St. Lucia Avenue

Kingston 5

Tele: (876) 968-7116

Fax: (876) 960-7422


Ministry of Health

2-4 King Street


Tel: 967-1101


National Land Agency

93 Hanover Street


Tel: (876) 922 7565

(876)922 8702


Ministry of Labour & Social Security

1F North Street


Tel: (876) 922 9500 (Employment Section)

        (876) 922 8000 (Welfare Section:)

Fax: (876) 948 7042


Ministry of Industry, Ivestment and Commerce

4 St. Lucia Avenue

Kingston 5

Tele: (876) 968-7116

Fax: (876) 960-7422


The Trade Board Ltd.

107 Constant Spring Road

Kingston 8

Tel: (876) 969 0883,

(876) 969 2785

Fax: (876) 925

6513,(876) 925 6526


Consumer Affairs Commission

1B Holborn Road

Kingston 5

Tel: (876) 926 1650-2

(876) 960 6825

Fax: (876) 968 8729




Ministry of Education and Youth

2 National Heroes Circle

Kingston 4

Toll free: 1(888)991-2070

Tel: (876)922-1400



Ministry of Finance & Planning

30 National Heroes Circle

Kingston 4

Tel: (876) 922 8600-9

Fax: (876) 922 7097



Tax Administration Services Department

Head Office

12 Ocean Boulevard


Tel: (876) 922 8691-4

Fax: 922-7110




Jamaica Customs Returning Residents Unit

Customs House, Newport East

Marcus Garvey Drive

P.O. Box 466

Kingston 15

Tel: (876) 750-


Fax: (876) 922-7600




Collector of Customs

Montego Bay

Howard Cooke Boulevard

Revenue Service Centre Building

P.O. Box 232

Montego Bay, St. James

Tel:(876) 952-3080

Fax:(876) 979-2827

Customs Brokers Association of Jamaica

14 First Street

Kingston 13

Tel: (876) 901 3712,

(876) 901 7405

(876) 901 8783

Fax: (876) 901 7405



Kingston Wharves Limited

3rd Street, Newport West,

Kingston 11

Tel: (876) 923 9211-8

Fax: (876) 923 5361

Real Estate Board

8 Dominica Drive

Kingston 5

Tel:(876) 926-9748/9

Fax:(876) 926 0001




Bill of Lading: a document issued by a carrier to a shipper, listing and acknowledging receipt of goods for transport and specifying terms of delivery. (Source:

Manifest: a shipping document that lists all freight or cargo items for a specific voyage. The manifest is required by customs agents when checking international shipments. (Source:

Bill of Sight: Documented request by an importer to custom authorities for permission to examine the shipment that has arrived, without a full set of documents or without full particulars. (Source: