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Tobacco and US customs

Another New Yorker

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I'm currently in China and soon to be heading back to the US. I was thinking in Beijing airport that I could pick up a few cartons (just 3-4) of Malboros and Camels for a few close friends and myself. My question is multifaceted:

a) How does customs determine the 400 dollar duty free thing that i've read about online? Where I live in nYC 4 cartons of cigarettes would be well over 400 bucks, but I purchased them for less.

b) If I'm just transporting sealed packages is possession of cigarettes illegal for a minor? I am, alas, only 17.

c) I read somewhere that bringing back american goods meant for export is illegal? Anyone know the details behind that. In the case of tobacco I read I think on ehow that if it doesn't have a surgeon general label then it's for export and bringing it into the States isn't kosher.
 

nahneun

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Originally Posted by Another New Yorker
I'm currently in China and soon to be heading back to the US. I was thinking in Beijing airport that I could pick up a few cartons (just 3-4) of Malboros and Camels for a few close friends and myself. My question is multifaceted: a) How does customs determine the 400 dollar duty free thing that i've read about online? Where I live in nYC 4 cartons of cigarettes would be well over 400 bucks, but I purchased them for less. b) If I'm just transporting sealed packages is possession of cigarettes illegal for a minor? I am, alas, only 17. c) I read somewhere that bringing back american goods meant for export is illegal? Anyone know the details behind that. In the case of tobacco I read I think on ehow that if it doesn't have a surgeon general label then it's for export and bringing it into the States isn't kosher.
A. You're limited to 200 cigarettes, or a 10-pack, duty-free according to customs. I'm not exactly sure how they determine how much customs you have to pay (or if they'll even check) if you have more than that. B. You cannot purchase or possess cigarettes unless you are 18 (or 19, I don't recall exactly; age rules might be different for duty-free) in a duty-free shop. To bring it into the country, you have to follow the laws of the country you're flying into. Transport of goods as a minor is illegal. Regardless, since you have to show your passport, you won't be able to purchase cigarettes at a duty-free. C. No, it's fine to buy Marlboros or whatever it is you want to buy even if you are bringing it back to the US. It's only illegal if you try to sell it for retail. All items purchased at duty-free stores are meant for individual consumption, not for resale. Also, I'm like 90% sure that duty-free cigarettes all have the surgeon general's warning on them.
 

BP348

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Couldn't tell you for sure but I would guess that at 17 you can't have them.
 

Another New Yorker

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Originally Posted by nahneun
A. You're limited to 200 cigarettes, or a 10-pack, duty-free according to customs. I'm not exactly sure how they determine how much customs you have to pay (or if they'll even check) if you have more than that.

B. You cannot purchase or possess cigarettes unless you are 18 (or 19, I don't recall exactly; age rules might be different for duty-free) in a duty-free shop. To bring it into the country, you have to follow the laws of the country you're flying into. Transport of goods as a minor is illegal. Regardless, since you have to show your passport, you won't be able to purchase cigarettes at a duty-free.

C. No, it's fine to buy Marlboros or whatever it is you want to buy even if you are bringing it back to the US. It's only illegal if you try to sell it for retail. All items purchased at duty-free stores are meant for individual consumption, not for resale. Also, I'm like 90% sure that duty-free cigarettes all have the surgeon general's warning on them.


Well... B) really screws me over. Goddammit world, 2 more months!
 

Hippo

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You may not get carded at the Duty Free stores. I don't know how it is in Beijing, but I'm 18 and I wasn't carded in Japanese and Thai duty free stores this summer. Depending on your level of risk-tolerance, you may want to conceal the cigarettes through customs; they probably won't stop you.
 

dragon8

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Originally Posted by BP348
Couldn't tell you for sure but I would guess that at 17 you can't have them.

My understanding of the law (not 100%) is that you must be 18 to purchase. Possession of them is not a crime. If they were high school kids would all be in jail
 

Another New Yorker

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Originally Posted by dragon8
My understanding of the law (not 100%) is that you must be 18 to purchase. Possession of them is not a crime. If they were high school kids would all be in jail

Can any informed folk tell me what's up? It's not the biggest lost if it doesn't work out but I could swing an easy hundred bucks selling them remarkably cheaply to friends - had my eyes on a pair of strands...
 

Joffrey

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I brought a bottle of wine back to the US from France when I was ~20. It was in my carryon and I just didn't declare it.
 

Another New Yorker

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Originally Posted by Jodum5
I brought a bottle of wine back to the US from France when I was ~20. It was in my carryon and I just didn't declare it.

Yeah but I'd like to know the legal context. And was that pre 9/11?
 

Harold falcon

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Originally Posted by Another New Yorker
Can any informed folk tell me what's up? It's not the biggest lost if it doesn't work out but I could swing an easy hundred bucks selling them remarkably cheaply to friends - had my eyes on a pair of strands...

If you're really looking into getting into the cigarette smuggling business then I recommend going to an Indian Reservation and buying there. You can then illegally transport them home in your trunk and sell them to your friends without the tax stamp. Best of luck.
 

BP348

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Originally Posted by dragon8
My understanding of the law (not 100%) is that you must be 18 to purchase. Possession of them is not a crime. If they were high school kids would all be in jail

Just because cops don't arrest the kids doesn't mean they can't. it's probably not worth the time and effort to do it. Plus were talking Customs not street officers.
 

Joffrey

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Originally Posted by Another New Yorker
Yeah but I'd like to know the legal context. And was that pre 9/11?

This was in 2005.
 

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