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I am travelling from South Africa and going to work in the US for two months.

I could not find any information on how much personal spending I am allowed to bring back or what the costs at Customs would be if I go over a certain limit?

Would I have to pay duty at both countries?

  • You can bring out as much as you like; you just have to pay the import duties at South Africa for any items that you bring back with you (that were purchased in the US) that are above the allocated limit. – Burhan Khalid Nov 22 '16 at 10:20
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Customs duty is most commonly applicable to goods being brought into a country. For non-US citizens there are quite strict limits ($100) on the value of goods that can be brought into the USA before duty is payable. (Note that this only applies to goods that will stay in the USA; it does not apply to any item which you'll be taking out of the country when you go home.)

I can find no indication that the US has any scheme for charging export duty on simple personal possessions, and I have never seen customs control on leaving the US. There is an obligation to declare large sums of money and also a procedure for exporting motor vehicles.

You should be more concerned about duty payable on goods being taken into your destination country. For South Africa the duty free allowance is R5,000 (equivalent to a few hundred USD). Hence you need to think carefully before buying high-value items such as laptop computers while in the US.

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    "For non-US citizens there are quite strict limits ($100) on the value of goods that can be brought into the USA before duty is payable." - Seriously? Mobile phone + Tablet... do I really have to pay for that? – TomTom Nov 22 '16 at 11:55
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    @TomTom This only applies to things that will stay in the US. So, as long as you take all your electronics home with you, you don't owe any duty on them. – David Richerby Nov 22 '16 at 12:24
  • Also, without knowing the exact regulations for South Africa and US, different limits may apply for people who actually move from one country to another. However, if you are just going to be in the US for two months, you might not qualify for this. – user149408 Nov 22 '16 at 15:01
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    It's also worth noting that if you bring more than $10,000 USD in currency or "negotiable monetary instruments" in or out of the US, you must file a special declaration, and there can be very severe consequences (i.e. confiscation of the money if not jail) for not doing so. If you have this much cash leaving the US (and there are good reasons not to travel this way), you need to visit the Customs office before going through security to make a declaration. – Zach Lipton Nov 22 '16 at 16:46
  • Similar rules apply to more than 25,000 ZAR or $10,000 when entering or leaving South Africa. – Zach Lipton Nov 22 '16 at 16:47

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