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I am planning to travel to India (COK airport, Kerala) from United States. I want to take my laptop as well as my tablet (iPad). Am I allowed to take both in my backpack with my documents related my work. I think I am allowed to take only one computer as per the rule. Will the customs consider my iPad as a computer? What all I can take?

One of my friends took 2 laptops (1 work and 1 personal) and had trouble at the airport.

Also I am planning to take some wristwatches (7 of them, each avg price is 45 $). I read in a website that I can take stuff up to max 35000 INR. Is that true? In that case, how will I manage my stuff?

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Was this trouble getting on the plane or trouble at customs? – DJClayworth Dec 4 '12 at 16:17
trouble at customs when he landed. They said you are allowed to take only one laptop with you. – Happy Dec 4 '12 at 16:51
I'm guessing here, but I think they might assume that if you have two laptops you would be going to sell one of them. There might not be as much of an issue with a laptop and a tablet, since many people regularly carry both. Seven wristwatches would be harder to justify. – DJClayworth Dec 4 '12 at 16:54
@DJClayworth: Planning to take wristwatches in Checkin bags and take Laptop and Tablet in backback. Will they check each and every bag ? – Happy Dec 4 '12 at 19:22
I've personally travelled with both laptop + iPad in carry-on (last year) LHR to BOM. No trouble at customs, though I might have been lucky in hindsight reading these regulations. – nc. Dec 5 '12 at 9:43

Here's what customs rules in India state (the 'free allowance' referred to is for personal items, and the duty-free allowance of alcohol cigarettes):

One laptop computer (notebook computer) over and above the said free allowances mentioned above is also allowed duty free if imported by any passenger of the age of 18 years and above.

So obviously, your friend who was carrying two laptops (one work, one personal) was stopped. Technically, the customs officials were correct in trying to charge him duty on the second. Note that specifically for Indian citizens returning from work abroad are allowed to bring back 'items of professional use' but computers do not count as 'professional use' items as they can be repurposed by anyone.

Apart from that, passengers above 10 years old flying in from most countries are given a duty-free allowance of items worth INR 45,0001 as long as they don't fall into one of the restricted items list such as alcohol / cigarettes.

The ambiguity lies in whether a tablet would be considered a 'laptop computer' or not because it's not defined within Indian customs law. You do have the INR 45,000 limit (which your iPad may or may not fall within) which you could claim this under, but that won't leave headroom for your watches.

It all boils down to what customs official inspects your baggage. I have been waved through most times without my baggage getting inspected (at any airport - India or outside, so I should count myself lucky!). Chances are if you look like a working professional, you will be stopped for inspection. They might be less likely to stop someone like me, because I usually wear my university logo clothes when travelling.

Also, if you're carrying seven watches, chances are customs officials will think you're carrying them for the purpose of reselling, and thus more likelier to make you pay duty on those items. Again, this is anecdotal evidence from what I've seen on how customs officials behave in Indian airports.

1As of Aug 18 2015, reference

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Chances are if you look like a working professional, you will be stopped for inspection. - That seems backwards compared to western cultures. – IQAndreas May 10 '15 at 1:40
@IQAndreas Mostly for the laptop thing though. Customs officials know they are likely to be carrying electronic devices. – Ankur Banerjee May 10 '15 at 16:32
"Chances are if you look like a working professional, you will be stopped for inspection. - That seems backwards compared to western cultures" India is the origin of 100.0% of "western" culture and religion BTW! The point was just that they particularly look for people bringing in "lots of damned laptops" and that in particular would be business types. in general sure, hippy youths look more interesting to customs people everywhere – Joe Blow Jun 7 '15 at 8:35
umm.... does anybody know if there is a more recent notification to… ? – shirish Jun 16 at 12:26
@blackbird57 please see the above comment. – shirish Jun 16 at 12:35

Recently, (Pursuant to Indian Union Budget 2014) the limit which (as I last saw when I travelled into India) was Rs. 45,000 for countries other than a few neighbouring countries and all the information relating to this change are contained in the link below.

Read the above document together with the document shown in the previous answer to get a full picture

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do you know if any change has happened to… for 2016 ? – shirish Jun 16 at 12:36
  1. Until you take one laptop as carry and another as check-in, provided you had declared that both are not bought in US and being brought into India.

  2. Carrying one laptop and one iPad as carry on is no issue

  3. Taking 7 watches is questionable, again its subjective to the airport and the officer. Try to put that into different bags. I know a friend who carried two laptops (one brought from India for work, another bought new in US) put into carry and check in bags separately. Then he got Android tablets(2), one DSLR taken with his carry bag and other goodies like 3/4 watches; he did not have any issue in Chennai Airport.

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protected by Mark Mayo Dec 18 '13 at 12:22

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