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I am traveling home from Saudi Arabia to the Philippines and I plan to bring with me 5 smartphones (in unopened boxes, as gifts), two personal laptops, 2 smartphones (personal), 1 iPod Touch and 1 Bose Soundlink II bluetooth speaker. I will be carrying my 2 smartphones and all the rest, I plan to pack in my checked in luggage. Will this be a problem for me at customs?

(My point of origin will be Dammam Airport, DMM, then a stopover in Bahrain, BHR, and finally, Manila, MNL.)

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    Are you worried about being question in the airport in Dammam, or worried about the customs when you arrive at MNL? – Nean Der Thal Jun 30 '15 at 13:05
  • Thank you for your interest in my question. Actually, it's both. – user8837 Jun 30 '15 at 13:28
  • I can confirm that you will face no problem leaving Saudi Arabia with electronics. Do not know about entering the Philippines. – Nean Der Thal Jul 1 '15 at 9:26
  • Thanks. Are there any references that I can read for a follow through? You did mention that you can confirm this. – user8837 Jul 1 '15 at 13:24
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I can't find a link but there should be no problem taking all of that through Saudi Arabia.

Assuming you have a single ticket and are not leaving the airside part of the airport in Bahrain then you will not have to collect your belongings and will not go through customs.

Arriving in the Philippines is different, you'll need to fill in a Customs Declaration, the relevant part:

Are you bringing in [ ] jewelries, [ ] electronic goods and [ ] commercial merchandise and/or samples purchased or acquired abroad.

I think it's clear you bought the boxed phones abroad, so let's deal with the other stuff first. Technically you need to be able to prove that you either purchased them in the Philippines and took them with you for personal use or otherwise have paid the import duty on a previous trip. However it's not an unusual amount of electronics for a traveler to carry if they're on business and if they look used I'm pretty sure they'll be fine.

The boxed phones should be declared. You'll then maybe pay some sort of tax on them, working out what and how much that will be seems pretty much impossible (people are welcome to try the tariff finder page and see if they can make more sense of it than I can). From experience importing stuff by mail it's pretty much down to what the inspector things it costs, what it is (i.e. if it counts as a phone or a handheld computer) and if they think you're going to sell them on or really gift them. If they look more expensive than they are then it's good to have evidence of the actual cost. But, in my experience, it comes down to the people looking at it.

I only have experience of importing stuff by mail because all mail is examined and I've never had to anything to declare at airport customs.

On the other hand, I've flown into Manila several dozen times and never been stopped going through the 'nothing to declare' lane. And I've rarely (maybe once or twice) seen anyone stopped.

Which is not to say that you shouldn't declare it, chances are if you declare they'll ask a couple of questions and wave you through. If you don't you could get your gifts (or worse, your personal stuff) confiscated, or fined, or worse. The people there are looking for big shipments of valuable goods and I'm pretty sure the worst they'll do for five phones is levy a small duty, if that. It's impossible to know for sure.

Finally, personally I wouldn't pack so much valuable kit in checked luggage. It will not matter for customs (you pick up checked luggage before going through customs) and checked luggage can go missing either by accident or design. Or things in it can go missing. Or it can be exposed to the elements or rough handling in transit, etc. It's normally OK, but if it's all your expensive stuff I wouldn't risk it. Personally I'd probably keep your personal electronics in your hand carry and leave the boxed phones (maybe in something waterproof) in checked in. This also helps establish what's yours and what extra you're bringing back.

Of course, you asked this question a few months back so you've probably done it by now. In which case I hope you can come back and let us know what you did and how it went. And in any case I hope the answer is useful for someone, even if it's mostly anecdote.

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    It is also worth noting that airlines often exclude valuable items like electronics from checked luggage liability. If you put the electronics in your checked bag and it is lost, stolen, or damaged, the airline will not pay for them. You might want to look for travel insurance that covers valuables in luggage. – Nate Eldredge Sep 3 '15 at 12:55

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