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Welcome to the Returning Residents Information Guide
Home | Clearing a Car | Duty Schedule | Eligibility | Importing a Car | F.A.Q
Personal Effects | Prior to Shipment | RR Services | Tools of Trade
This information is printed with permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. For further information, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade at 21 Dominica Drive, Kingston 5, Jamaica, W.I. Tel: (876) 926-4420; Fax: (876) 929-6733. E-Mail: mfaftjam@toj.com

The tools of trade are defined in Jamaican law as follows:

That type and amount of instruments, tools, equipment, devices and machinery as would be usually used in the normal course and scope of a person's profession, trade or occupation without utilising additional labour.

Returning Residents who wish to import items which fall under this definition in order to pursue their profession, trade or occupation may do so free of Customs Duty, provided that the examining Customs Officer is satisfied that:

  • The items are for the sole use of the individual for the purposes of income generation;
  • The individual is qualified to use them;
  • They are of the type and quantity as can be so used;
  • They are not imported for sale or commercial exchange.

As is the case with household effects, these items may be either new or used. If it is your intention to return home to establish a business which will require the employment of additional labour, any equipment you may require for others to operate will not fall into the category of tools of trade. You should therefore include Customs Duty in your estimation of investment costs in this instance.

Facilities have now been put in place for a Returning Resident to be advised, before actual departure for Jamaica, as to whether or not items he or she intends to import as tools of the trade will comply with the definition. This service is available through Jamaican Diplomatic Missions overseas or the Returning Resident Facilitation Unit in Kingston.

It will assist the process if you can provide documentary proof of your qualification and/or experience in your profession, trade or occupation. Such documents could include:

  • A certificate or diploma from a recognized educational institution, professional body, or training establishment which has been notarized or certified;
  • A reference from a former employer or customer attesting to your experience in the designated field;
  • Copies of professional or business directories in which the service you offer is listed, etc.

You should also provide comprehensive details of the items you wish to import as tools of trade. In the case of used equipment you should provide a detailed inventory of the items along with a professional valuation as to their current condition and worth, except in the case of equipment less that one year old where the original supplier's invoice can be provided.

To be considered "used", the items of equipment should have been in your possession, and in use, for a period of six (6) months or more. If you propose to acquire new equipment, you should ask your supplier for a pro-forma invoice giving full details of the items and their current price.

If you visit or write your Mission to request this service, the Consular Officer will forward copies of the relevant documents you have provided to the Returning Residents Facilitation Unit in Kingston. The Unit will consult with the Customs Department to verify whether the specified tools of trade will be allowed duty-free treatment, the Unit will give an indication of the rate of duty which would be payable.

The overall review process should be completed within approximately ten (10) working days, and you will be notified in writing. It should be carefully noted that as the laws currently stand, a formal assessment of Customs Duty, or determination of compliance for duty-free importation of tools of trade can only be made by the Examining Officer on clearance of the items. The special arrangements introduced under the Charter should however give some reasonable indication in both areas.

Other Business/Investment Equipment

Where you are considering starting a business, which requires the importation of equipment other than allowed as tools of trade, there may be other concessions and assistance available to you. Business people and investors are encouraged to consult with JAMPRO, Jamaica's Economic Development Agency. The Unit and the Overseas Missions have supplies of brochures prepared by JAMPRO which fully describe that organization's role and service, and are available on request.


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