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ATTENTION UW PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Discussion in 'Mexico' started by Karen Schofield, Oct 27, 2019.

  1. CZS

    CZS Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: OKC, OK
    79
    53
    18
    This past May, I was taken for ~ $350 in "taxes" on my camera equipment at the Cabo San Lucas airport. When going through customs, my Pelican case was singled out for inspection. Upon opening and inspecting the roughly $10k in camera equipment inside, I was informed that I filled the customs form out incorrectly because I had "professional equipment". I explained that I was not a professional and was merely on a vacation. I provided the name and contact info of the operator, Nautilus, but the customs agent didn't listen or care. After over an hour in an office with a Mexican official, I finally (reluctantly) agreed to pay the $350 to enter.

    I immediately notified the Nautilus who, to their credit, were helpful in connecting me with their Mexican attorney to help recover the charges. When leaving the country, I arrived a the airport a bit early and returned to the customs office. The Nautilus attorney spoke with the customs agent for 30-45 minutes to no avail and I finally decided to just let it go. Nautilus contended (contends?) that attempting to charge this tax is a "misinterpretation" of the Mexican law aimed squarely at true professionals and has vowed to work with other Cabo based tourist businesses and their equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce to get it resolved.

    I have a return trip to Socorro scheduled for 2021 and, unless this is resolved by then, will be taking a point and shoot and a GoPro the next time around.
     
  2. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    5,910
    3,105
    113
    Is this also happening in Cozumel?
     
  3. Ministryofgiraffes

    Ministryofgiraffes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Toronto
    806
    624
    93
    I came though Coz in May with Biggest Pelican full of stupidly expensive equipment. They made me unpack it, but didn't bill me.


    correction.....Cancun, not Cozumel.
     
  4. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    10,930
    6,378
    113
    David Valencia, the manager of Dive Cabo by Nautilus, and very accomplished professional photographer, was extremely helpful during my visit in May. I would imagine he assisted you in your quest for reimbursement for your customs duty.
     
  5. CZS

    CZS Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: OKC, OK
    79
    53
    18
    Actually, David wasn't helpful in the least. He acted uninterested and essentially told me that "yeah that's Mexico, just don't tell them the real value of the gear". I went over his head with a call to Nautilus and was finally connected to someone who passed my message along to the ownership. At that point, I received a call from their attorney who was extremely helpful. I have heard very complementary things about David, but my experience was less positive. Perhaps I just caught him on a bad day, who knows...
     
    dead dog likes this.
  6. runsongas

    runsongas Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    3,572
    1,396
    113
    seems like the cabo airport is the problem, shame since socorro is a great destination
     
  7. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    10,930
    6,378
    113
    Hi @CZS

    Perhaps, I interacted with him for several days, as I dived with them for a couple of days before going out to Revillagigedos. He invited me to attend an industry presentation one night by an accomplished Baja ocean environmentalist, it was fascinating, and extremely well attended by staff from the other operators in Cabo San Lucas. It was a nice gesture at collegiality.

    Out of interest, what trip were you on? I was on the Nautilus Explorer from the 24th until the 1st of June. Too bad your outcome was not better regarding duty, hope your dive trip was as good as mine.

    Good diving, Craig
     
  8. JackConnick

    JackConnick Optical Ocean Sales ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    1,773
    305
    83
    The complete UnderCurrent article (I highly recommend this magazine) in the October edition (available for subscribers) goes into quite a bit of depth on the issue. Apparently this is a byproduct of the US/Mexico tariff "wars" and customs is over-reaching and charging these fees. Mexico import laws are clear - two cameras are allowed. You can use this site: https://tinyurl.com/y3csxnx3 to show the agents.

    However customs agents are customs agents, they can do what they want. They apparently are using the "professional" designation to charge fees, even on one or two cameras, just because they want to.

    All of this was on the books, but rarely enforced. But our present leadership has needled the Mexican government and individual agents are taking revenge.

    To be fair, I and some of my customers have been getting hassled coming back into Seattle by US agents when we carry a lot of gear. They claim it should all be registered before we leave the US. That doesn't work for me as I carry different gear and setups on almost every trip, as I am testing and trying out new gear and ideas. I would strongly suggest taking a copy of your invoices along with you to prove it was purchased in the US. We are happy to provide .pdfs of any purchase from Optical Ocean Sales to our customers so you can have it on your phone.

    Undercurrent has some good info on traveling with cameras a bit on the low-down. Plain cases, keep your attitude pleasant and non-confrontative, etc.

    Jack
     
  9. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    802
    494
    63
    US Customs registration is really easy, takes all of 10 minutes to get done at a customs office, and lasts forever. You can do it at most airports and ports.
     
  10. JackConnick

    JackConnick Optical Ocean Sales ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    1,773
    305
    83
    Yeah and that takes an 1.5 hours of diving, parking, slepping gear through the airport and getting there when they are open. And I cay=rry lots of different gear. Never was a problem before...
     

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