Importing Household Goods in the
Law 168 of 1967 authorizes new legal residents and Dominicans who have lived
abroad for at least two years to bring in their household goods tax-free. You
will pay hardly any taxes on household goods and personal effects if you go
through the process of getting your residency prior to arriving in country. The
process is not as complicated as that of importing a vehicle, and is
recommended. Note that not all items are exempt, and some items will be taxed if
they are in excess of what the bureau considers normal for a household.
The law specifically establishes duty free treatment for personal effects and
household goods. Equipment used for work purposes, such as dental, medical
equipment and computers are also exempt.
The equipment needs to be used, but most of the time new household goods that do
not come in their original boxes are allowed through.
Foreigners need to declare that they will be living permanently in the country.
The tax exemption also applies to Dominicans who have lived abroad for at least
two consecutive years and return to establish their permanent residence in the
country. Note that this privilege is only granted once in a lifetime.
A private individual may import goods if they are for personal use. If the
quantity and nature of these goods indicate that they may not be for personal
use customs will (in most cases) require that a legally established company be
the consignee. You MUST be at least a legal resident to have a shipment cleared
on your behalf; customs will require your ID number (cédula). For businesses the
Tax Contributor Number (RNC) is required.
To import goods into the DR, in general, ALL shipments will require the
a commercial Invoice, bill of lading or Air Way Bill, a C1 (optional), and a
A consular Invoice is an original commercial invoice from the Dominican
consulate closest to the point of shipping. The consulate issues a consular
invoice, and this document is needed to clear the shipment in the DR. The fee
that the consulate charges varies depending on the location.
In absence of a Dominican Consulate in a radius of 100 miles of the shipping
port, the shipper must require the local chamber of commerce to issue a letter
stating that there isn’t a Dominican consulate within the required distance.
Although the law states that a consular invoice is needed for any shipment worth
US$100 or more, in the practice it is only needed for shipments worth US$1000 or
more. If the consignee cannot produce the Consular invoice at the time of
clearance customs will fine the consignee. At the moment the fine is about
Some shipments may require special permits and documentation. For example, to
import cosmetics, medicine and food you will need permits from the Health
Department (Secretaría de Salud Pública); this means that there is an additional
procedure outside the Customs clearance that has to be followed PRIOR to the
arrival of the shipment.
You must know that not everything can be imported into the DR. Consult a customs
broker if you are not sure about the goods you are importing prior to the actual
shipment taking place.
Be aware that ALL documents MUST be original and printed on original stationery
(not photocopies, no faxes). Customs frowns upon the use of handwritten
documents; the more official-looking the documents are, the least problems you
may have. If you have lost the documents or they haven’t arrived on time you
will only be able to clear your shipment if you present customs with a bond for
the value of the merchandise, though customs may still decline to let you take
The typical procedure to clear a shipment at customs includes the following
steps. You, or your broker on your behalf, must fill out a form (Form 3480)
declaring the details of the shipment (shipper, consignee, commodity, total FOB,
freight, insurance, etc).
This document, along with the documents listed above, will be presented at the
customs office of the port/airport of arrival. A customs officer (Verificador)
will be assigned to inspect the shipment, and confirm the veracity of the
information declared on Form 3480. All shipments are inspected.
Once the shipment is inspected the form goes to the Assessment Department
(Valores). This department will check the prices that you declared (your prices
may or may not be accepted as true and will be readjusted by customs), and will
calculate the amount of duties and taxes to be paid. After paying these, you can
withdraw your goods from customs.
Note: You must make your presentation no later than 10 days counting from (and
including) the arrival date. Failure to do so will result in a heavy fine. Also,
be aware that although this is a basic review of the procedure, in reality is
DOES NOT work so simply. Consult your customs broker for details.
It is difficult to estimate payment within customs. There isn’t a “flat” tax in
the DR, so duties can range from 0% to 30%, it depends on the commodity that you
are importing. Duties and taxes are calculated on a CIF basis. Only insurance
bought from Dominican companies are accepted at customs for the purpose of
calculating taxes. If you cannot produce your insurance policy at the time of
clearance, customs will assume 2% of the FOB value as cost of insurance. Taxes
and duties are paid in pesos and the current exchange rate used at customs is
32.00 RD$/1 US$.
Besides duties, certain taxes and fees are also paid at the time of clearance:
Comisión cambiara: 4.75% (C1), ITBIS: 12%, Selectivo al consumo: 20 - 40%
(luxury goods and alcohol), Warehousing (Portuaria): calculated on the basis of
weight and days at port.
If you are importing full container loads (FCL) you will have to leave a deposit
of RD$6500 per container to guarantee that they will be returned clean and in
good condition within 14 days of arrival at the port. For each day after that
US$15 per container will be deducted from the deposit. This is not paid to the
government, but rather to an association of shipping lines.
There are exceptions to these rules. Certain businesses and commodities are
treated in a different manner. Manufacturing Free Zone companies, for example,
are exempt from paying duties and taxes (some fees apply). There are many other
exceptions to the rules, for more details consult a customs broker.
There are three major airports in the DR. The largest airport in the DR is
Aeropuerto Internacional de las Americas (AILA) (SDQ), near Santo Domingo
followed by La Unión (POP) near Puerto Plata. Aeropuerto Internacional del Cibao
(STI) near Santiago has recently started operations.
The most important port in the DR is Rio Haina. Rio Haina Oriental is operated
by the government; Rio Haina Occidental is operated by Maersk/Sealand. Puerto
Plata is the second largest. Other ports are Boca Chica (west of Santo Domingo),
San Pedro de Macorís, and Manzanillo. There are a few other ports that don’t
have regularly-scheduled lines going in or out.
If you have any further questions, ask your customs broker. You should not
attempt to go through customs alone, so get a trustworthy customs broker with
experience in the field.
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