If a person enters via an airport and custom says he/she needs to pay import taxes, does he/she need to pay inside the airport custom area itself or can he/she pay after exiting the airport?

Should he/she then carry lots of cash while traveling by air in case he/she needs to pay customs duties at the airport? Or do they accept credit/debit card?

  • 1
    Most countries collect duty right away, otherwise folks would just go home and not pay. Whether you can pay by credit card would depend on what the country allows, it is not universal.
    – user13044
    Oct 7, 2017 at 4:35

3 Answers 3


You pay at the time of declaration. For example, in Canada, the Customs official will let you know if you have to pay tax, and if so, direct you to the cashier (if at an airport) or to the office (if at a land crossing) where you can pay your taxes/duties. Canada will accept cash, cheques, VISA, MasterCard and American Express. I suspect most western countries will take at least some credit cards, but some countries probably only accept cash.

If you are unsure about the country you are visiting (or the country you are from), check their website or call them in advance.

Normally you will only pay tax/duty re-entering your own country, depending on the dollar amount of your purchases but if you are bringing in significant amounts of goods, particularly for others, or more than a small amount of alcohol or tobacco, you may need to pay tax/duty in a country you are visiting.


You pay there at customs. Some will not take your out of Country money. But all international airports do have a money exchange in them. They will take a credit card to exchange money. Customs will tell you were that is at. Let you go there & return to them. Or were the closest ATM machine is. To get there currency.


Yes, you have to pay on site or forfeit the goods. That's Customs' job after all, regulating the flow of goods, and tax them (or suppress them). There is usually a tax collection counter nearby, before you can exit the arrival secure area. Whether they accept cards will depend on the country, and sometimes the city.

I've had once to pay tax in Penang, Malaysia, and they didn't take credit cards. I had to pay in cash, but fortunately it was only about 60 ringgit.

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    You don't necessarily forfeit the item. Sometimes you're allowed to keep it in customs until you leave the country or until you produce the right sum of money.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 7, 2017 at 5:00
  • True. Although, depending on the country, whether you can actually get it back is debatable. And in the case of restricted goods, this option might not even be available.
    – user67108
    Oct 7, 2017 at 5:02
  • @dda There was nothing in the question about restricted goods.Why is it 'debatable' if a traveller is able to get something back from customs and which countries exactly do not allow you to place goods in a temporary hold until customs are paid, but require you to pay on the spot when crossing the border (at least for larger amounts). Oct 7, 2017 at 11:32
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo: Corruption aka theft by customs officials. Oct 7, 2017 at 23:06

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