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Is it okay to bring two phones (unpacked, in use) back to India? (Indian Citizens coming back from US)

  • One of the phone is purchased in India (this should be exempt from custom duties?)
  • The other phone is purchased in US and costs Rs 62,000. (This is above the prescribed 50,000 limit.) It is open, with US sim card and is in use by me

With this should I just go in the green line or go with the red line and pay custom duty on the 62k-50k = 12k price. (Which is 4.5k)

Please tell me both the legal view and regular practice view.

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  • I don't know how Indian customs work, but in the UK you'd have to pay duty on Rs 62,000, not Rs 12,000. Duty is payable on the whole price if you exceed the duty free limit. Jul 14, 2022 at 10:09

3 Answers 3

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I am not a lawyer, but carrying two phones with separate SIM cards seems normal to me, people do that all the time if you need one private and one for company communications for instance.

On the other hand if you carry 10 phones still in their original box unopened it is clearly imported gods and should be declared.

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Like every other choose-your-lane Customs question, the regular practice answer comes down to this:

• If you're carrying goods on which duty may be owed, and you go through the red lane and declare the goods, you will pay the duty, typically a small fraction of the value of the goods. By making this payment, you obey the law and you get to keep the goods.

• If you're carrying goods on which duty may be owed, and you don't declare the goods and they're discovered anyway (random search, x-ray, canine sniffing, magic), then the goods will be confiscated, and you're likely to be fined or charged with a criminal offense for violating the country's customs laws, or lying on your Customs declaration. Your immigration record in that county will be besmirched; if not a citizen, future visas may be harder or impossible to obtain.

The reality is that while it is far from certain the goods will be discovered...if they are discovered the sanctions are much more serious.

What kind of traveler do you wish to be?

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    The doubt I have is does a phone in use count as a “personal item” and is it exempt from custom duty? In that case, by forcefully declaring it I am paying tax on something that’s not required! (Oh and yes, the small fraction is 40% of the value of good in India)
    – dev
    Jun 13, 2022 at 0:49
  • @Confused_oonga_boonga I do not know how Indian Customs law counts multiple devices. A 40% duty would certainly encourage people to attempt avoidance. Jun 13, 2022 at 1:01
  • @Confused_oonga_boonga If you’re confused, simply declare the phone when you enter, explain the situation, and the customs agents will tell you whether duties are owed.
    – Sneftel
    Jun 13, 2022 at 20:56
  • @Confused_oonga_boonga I do not know India, but when in doubt, I would always declare things. I declared a laptop computer when travelling to EU because it was above the limit, I said I was not sure if I needed to pay duty, and they said it was okay and I did not have to pay duty.
    – user253751
    Jun 14, 2022 at 16:57
  • I think that in most countries, customs officers have some ability to decide whether the item is a personal item.
    – user253751
    Jun 14, 2022 at 17:00
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Based on my experience, Indian customs majorly targets people coming from certain destinations, eg: UAE, US.

Secondly they are mainly concerned with high end mobiles and mostly iPhones, whenever I've passed through they have always asked me if I have an iPhone. They once asked my Mom which phone she had and when she said Motorola, the customs lady made a face and told us to go.

I have traveled multiple times with two phones between Australia and India, it has never been an issue but both have been Android phones.

If they ask you , do not lie, declare whatever phone you have.

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