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I've noticed that when arriving into India by air, after immigration, and after the passport stamp check to ensure you really did go through immigration, there is some sort of check where all your cabin baggage is xray'd. This is before you get to baggage claim, and before customs.

Cabin bags are xray'd here, and people walk through a metal detector, but jackets don't have to be taken off, nothing has to be taken out of bags before the xray, no-one seems to pay any attention to if the metal detector goes off or not, and bags which have triggered secondary checks elsewhere due to the amount of computers+cables in them sail through.

This makes me wonder - what is the point of this post-immigration pre-customs xray check of bags, and what are they supposed to be checking for?

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It's not about security (which would obviously be way too late), it's about taxes. India has heavy Customs duties and they're trying to catch people bringing in undeclared electronics, alcohol, tobacco, drugs etc, much of which is clearly visible on an X-ray.

India is by no means alone in this: eg. Indonesia and Saudi Arabia X-ray all incoming bags, and eg. Singapore randomly (or not) selects some travellers to have their bags scanned.

  • Adding to the answer by @jpatokal, i also want to add an point. OP's question is about arriving finishing the travel. If someone is to pose security threat by carrying arms, explosives, or whatever, he would do it while on the plane, not (usually) on the destination. That's the reason of reluctance about the person crossing the arch-metal-detector while making it beeping. So, now the subject of interest is his/her luggage, not him. – kmonsoor May 3 '15 at 12:31
  • The US also does this on arrival; mostly to detect import of produce or other agricultural products that might contain invasive species or pests (I think). They make you go through it if you check the "I brought food" box on your customs declaration form. – Jay May 3 '15 at 18:14
  • But why is this checkpoint before baggage claim, not after? – phoog May 20 '17 at 15:35
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jpatokal's answer does not explicitly mention gold and silver- which will be found via x-ray examination.

My understanding is that India tries to reduce the amount of gold/silver imported to reduce the trade deficit. This page (http://nriinformation.com/faq1/questions_2.htm) indicates that the first kilo of gold imported is dutied at 10%; additional gold is dutied at 36.05%. This size of duty will mean some people will try to smuggle the gold in.

I have read in the past that gold smuggling into India is/was a huge thing. The James Bond novel Goldfinger used it as a plot point.

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