Can I fly from US to Spain carrying 30 new watches in my carry-on and/or checked luggage?

I paid $60 for each new watch (I have the receipt) even though their retail price is over $500 each watch.

I'm from Spain and I think it is cheaper for me to fly to the US and pick up the watches myself than have them shipped to spain, shipping them to spain would cost me $400 for shipping + $400 in customs duties. Flying there and back will cost me $500.

What should I do? Will I get in trouble in the airport? What is the maximum limit that one can carry while traveling? Any suggestions?

  • 1
    What exactly are you concerned about? Exporting or importing? – Karlson Sep 3 '15 at 13:42
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    Interestingly enough if these watches really retail for $500/each you likely have received stolen goods, otherwise you have received knock offs and you should have paid less. – Karlson Sep 3 '15 at 13:47
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    One issue is that 30 identical watches are unlikely to pass for goods intended for your personal use. If you plan to resell them, the usual travel allowances do not necessarily apply. – Relaxed Sep 3 '15 at 13:51
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    @John That's not the way it works. You can carry whatever you want but might have to pay duties and/or VAT as applicable. There is a €430 duty-free allowance for goods having no commercial character but is that the case here? And $1800 is over this limit anyway. Finally, as Karlson already mentioned, you might have to account for the unusually low price you paid. – Relaxed Sep 3 '15 at 13:55
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    Perhaps you should take some tips from this guy. – Nate Eldredge Sep 3 '15 at 14:48

Your case is quite simple:

If the flight costs 500 Dollars, and shipping costs 400 dollars, then choose the latter option, as it saves you 100 dollars.

For commercially imported goods, there is no duty free allowance anyway, so you end up paying the same amount of customs for both options.

However, since you got these watches quite cheaply, be prepared to provide reasonable documentation to prove that your import is actually legal, meaning (1) that the watches are not fake, and (2) they are not stolen. Regardless of how you get your goods to Europe, the customs officers will suspect that (1) or (2) are the case. For example, if you can show that you bought the watches during a closing auction of some major watch store, this would probably help.

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    What's illegal about the watches being fake? It would only be illegal if you then sold them as genuine. – terdon Sep 3 '15 at 16:23
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    @terdon it's because fake watches are a clear case of copyright infringement. Also, not explicitly selling them as genuine doesn't mean that buyers won't think they're genuine. – Nzall Sep 3 '15 at 16:49
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    @terdon I looked up a bit more. It's not the watch itself that's illegal since you can't copyright something functional and the patents have long been expired. However, it's the name and logo on the watch that's copyrighted and cannot be legally reproduced without permission. forbes.com/sites/arieladams/2013/05/30/… is a Forbes article on the matter. – Nzall Sep 3 '15 at 16:58
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    @NateKerkhofs You can't copyright a name, either: it's a trademark. – David Richerby Sep 3 '15 at 17:10
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    @DavidRicherby Doesn't really make a difference whether it's a patent, a trademark or a copyright. For the purpose of legal matters, reproducing something protected by one of these 3 is ALWAYS illegal except if it's fair use, which I really do not see happening in the case of a $500 watch. – Nzall Sep 3 '15 at 17:45

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