Shipping a barrel from the US to Jamaica was relatively easy but picking up a barrel in Kingston was a separate matter. I have spent a considerable amount of time in Kingston and consider myself very familiar with the town layout and transportation systems. I have driven all over the city of Kingston and most outlying areas but for whatever reasons I have never spent a lot of time in or around the Kingston harbor and wharves. The port of Kingston is where most of the countries import and export takes place and some 70% of the the total goods imported are processed on the Kingston Wharves.
Our barrel was shipped over on an ocean going vessel and dropped off to Jamaica customs in Kingston harbor per our instructions. We could have picked up in Mobay or even had it delivered direct to our home here in Negril but we chose a road trip to Kingston instead and as usual I am glad we did. We had a great trip and the worst part of it was dealing with driving around the Kingston Wharves. It’s a pretty backwards system of one way roads and no signage that kept me spinning in circles quite a bit. I arrived on the first day with the wife and kids in tow but quickly realized I needed to come back on my own so I took care of the first step in paperwork and returned on my own the next morning. Things went much smoother at the harbor before 9AM and it is suggested you arrive as early as you can.
The first step in retrieving our barrel was to stop by the local office for Finlays Shipping which was only two blocks away from the harbor but one of the most difficult streets for me to find me. The Jamaican lady in the office kept giving me bad directions and it took me almost an hour to find it once I arrived in the general area. At Finlays I paid the $2,000 JA for local handling charges and received my Arrival Notice and Bill of Lading documents to be presented to Jamaica Customs agents. Finlays filled out all the necessary documents for me and made things quite a bit easier in doing so. I only had to make one simple modification to any of the paper work we received from Finlays in order for Customs to accept it and all the document transfers went pretty smoothly. I bailed out here and came back the next morning with the necessary documents in hand ready to deal with the Jamaican customs process all in one day.
I got to the docks at roughly 8:30 am and things we’re still kinda quiet. I grabbed a banana porridge and coffee from one of the many vendors in the area and hung out in front trying to catch a photo opportunity. The entire area is a security zone with no children and no cameras allowed. The first time I pulled up to the gates in the van I had my camera on the seat next to me and they told me I had to take it home. No cameras allowed. I came back with my smaller camera and was only able to grab the one shot above without being seen.
They have a special parking lot for individuals picking up imports and the parking lot attendants are the first to verify you have the proper docs before you even park. Once they let you in they will send you across the street to the clerk in the Customs Manifest Branch where your documents are processed. You have to present identification at this step and all persons receiving imports must now have a Jamaican TRN number as well. I paid roughly $2000 JA for this service to the Jamaican government and was sent over to the Warehouse manager who would find my barrel amongst all the others. The warehouse manager actually waited about 30 minutes while a number of us finished the first stages paperwork that morning and then he disappeared into the warehouse for about another 20 minutes before returning with everyones barrel on one flat trailer. All the barrels were lined up in front of rows of tables and each of us was told to stand before our barrel as we awaited the customs inspections.
Persons to whom packages have been sent from overseas
1. Take your Arrival Notice, Bill of Lading and identification paper to the Freight Agent who is responsible for receiving and handling your goods.
2. The Freight Agent will process your papers and collect all fees due to them (not Customs import duties) and advise you when and where (wharf or warehouse) the package(s) will be available for inspection by Customs.
3. Take your documents (including Customs Form C78X) to the Wharf or
Warehouse at the appropriate time and present same to the clerk in the Customs Manifest Branch. The documents will be processed and returned to you.
4. Take these documents to the Wharf Authorities or Warehouse Keeper so that your goods can be located and placed in the Customs Examination area.
5. The Customs Officer may request that you open your packages for inspection.
6. After inspection of the goods, you will be sent to the Customs Cashier to pay the necessary duties and fees. On your return, after paying the duties and fees, the Customs Officer will issue the Customs Release.
7. The Customs Release should be taken to the Warehouse Keeperâ€™s clerk who will supervise delivery to you of your packages.
The customs agents are fairly thorough in some cases I guess but they surely did not search my barrel at all. Not that I brought in anything illegal but I could certainly have carried a firearm amongst the many tools and other metal objects that walked right through untouched. I brought over a small tool chest full of hand tools and things and no one ever looked through any of it. I was open and honest and told them everything I shipped was my own used personal effects and they let me through pretty easily. Some Jamaican families shipped over lots of new commercial goods and they went over those guys much more thoroughly. It was obvious to me they were more interested in those shipments then they were in my crap.
My barrel was valued at just under $24,000 JA and my import duties were $3500. They underestimated by quite a bit. The total cost for shipping my barrel to Jamaica was about $170 for 260 lbs in a 55 gallon steel drum. I brought over a full tower pc with loads of accessories, a medium sized tool box of hand tools sockets and wrenches, power tools including a circular saw and a reciprocating saw, corded and cordless drill, most of my housewares and small kitchen appliances including my grind and brew coffee maker, a nice stainless steel wok and bamboo steamer, a counter top deep fryer and some new pots and pans I bought over the holidays and used at moms so they look old. We now have a complete kitchen and cooking is much nicer for us now. I grind and brew fresh coffee every morning and I’m loving our new place that much more. It really has become our new home and I can’t see any reason for us to ever leave this place.
Here are some relevant websites for you.barrel shipping, customs, Jamaica, jamaica customs, jamaica shipping, kingston, negril, re