I have a 5-year multiple entry visa. I came to visit my family in Atlanta. My outgoing flight is from JFK to Dubai and then from there to Johannesburg.

Can I take five laptops with me in my carry-on, or suitcases with me?

They are for personal and work use.

Will there be any questioning from Customs?

  • 1
    Do you have a layover in Dubai? AKA you're leaving the airside area? Otherwise, the issue will be with customs in South Africa.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 20:03
  • 2
    Really? One laptop is not enough for personal and work use? Not importing them for family members? Probably these questions will be asked if you don't declare them and they stop you.
    – alanh
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:16
  • If they truly are for business use, such as for a small class being taught, etc, I'd take along some sort of proof of that fact, otherwise I too would make you pay import duties.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 13:15
  • Taking them out of the US is not an issue. The issue would be taking them in to South Africa. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


The rule here is that Laptops are not subject to Customs however the quantities must not be of a commercial nature.

Whether five laptops constitutes commercial quantities is basically subject to the Customs Officer's discretion. However you will have a very difficult time getting Customs to believe that you need five laptops for personal and/or work use.

In fact, I have a very hard time believing you need five laptops so I am sure any Customs officer might be hardpressed to believe the same.

Regardless, the Dubai Customs website states the conditions (Very subjective).

Dubai Customs - Permitted Luggage & Items

  • I don't think this is what he wants to know, because he is actually going to South Africa not Dubai. Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 10:20
  • @BurhanKhalid I have answered the question which was 'How many laptops can a visitor take out of US to Dubai on an Emirates flight?' Although I agree, the circumstances of the stay in Dubai are unclear. There may possibly be an extended stay which may mandate Baggage collection and possible Customs inspection or it may not involve Baggage collection if it is a short-stay which means the issue would then rest with the South African Customs.
    – Talha
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 10:22

I'm a bit confused here:

  1. You are carrying 5 laptops from the US in your luggage.
  2. You are transiting through Dubai on your way to South Africa.

In Dubai - you will not go through customs (unless you have an extended layover). So no fear of customs actions here; while you are in transit there is a security check upon arrival into the transit area but that's it.

On your arrival in South Africa, however the 5 laptops might cause a problem. Normally there are no restrictions but:

In addition to personal effects and the above consumable allowances, travellers are allowed new or used goods in accompanied baggage to the value of R5 000.

I believe you will run afoul of this rule and will have to pay the normal duty/taxes on the laptops.

You can find more details at the SARS website for travelers.

SARS = South African Revenue Service.

I have to say anyone bringing in 5 new laptops will raise eyebrows even in those countries where they are no import duties on such goods.

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