September 18, 2014, 12:10:18 PM

Author Topic: Traveling abroad with photography equipment  (Read 23265 times)

Chewy734

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 238
    • View Profile
Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« on: September 08, 2011, 08:38:32 AM »
I had a question for you guys/gals who travel abroad with your high(er)-end camera equipment.

I'm going to India with my family just for a quick visit (~2.5 weeks) later this month, and I've decided I would like to take my 5D2 along with 2-3 lenses with me (24-105 mm f/4L IS, 50 mm f/1.4, and maybe the 70-200 mm f/4L IS). Since they look arguably look like pro gear (and brand new, since I recently purchased these a couple months ago), I fear that I may have some issues with customs when I arrive there, or when I come back. What do you guys do to make sure that they don't give you any trouble and/or make you pay duties on your own personal equipment?

The other thing I need to think about before I leave is insurance.  Since I don't use my camera equipment professionally (i.e., getting paid), and only as a hobby, do you recommend any companies for this (besides State Farm)?

Thanks for your help!

canon rumors FORUM

Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« on: September 08, 2011, 08:38:32 AM »

aldvan

  • Guest
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 09:00:42 AM »
I use to bring with me the invoices of my cameras and lenses. By the way, I have to say that never any custom agent asked me about my equipment (1Ds3 and 5D2 and many Ls), from China to Australia, from Belarus to Chile...)

neuroanatomist

  • CR GEEK
  • ********
  • Posts: 14391
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 09:34:16 AM »
The first time I traveled internationally with high-end gear, I went through the trouble of downloading and filling out CBP Form 4457, the DHS form "Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad."  The idea is you fill out the form with gear and serial numbers, and a CBP (customs and border protection) official inspects your stuff and signs the form before you leave the country.  The problem was there isn't anyone to sign it in a convenient location - it has to be signed by a CBP officer, and they are all in the entry areas (where you can't easily get unless you're actually entering through customs). 

So, just bring copies of the invoices/receipts for the items (including your computer, if you bring one).  Honestly, that's just a precaution, I have never been asked to provide documentation by Customs abroad or returning to the USA. 

Definitely insure your gear, and read the policy to make sure you're covered for any type of loss and that the coverage is in force worldwide.  Personally, I have mine insured with State Farm, but you exclude them (why?).  Usually, coverage for personal gear (as opposed to gear used for business) is best obtained from the insurer who wrote your homeowners or renters policy, either as a rider on the main policy or as a separate policy.  I pay a little over $7/year per $1K of coverage. 

A related question - how are you planning on carrying your gear?  Are you flying internally within India?  Depending on the distance and the type of plane, a large bag may not fit for carry-on.  A 5DII with 24-105, 70-200/4 and 50/1.4 doesn't take up much room, so you should be just fine.  I tend to carry a lot more gear on longer trips - a fully loaded Lowepro Flipside 400 AW.  I put that entire backpack into a Pelican Storm im2500 hard case, just in case I'm forced to check it.

Have a great trip!
EOS 1D X, EOS M, and lots of lenses
______________________________
Flickr | TDP Profile/Gear List

kubelik

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 797
    • View Profile
    • a teatray in the sky
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2011, 09:57:39 AM »
I've flown around with lots of gear, and customs agents are actually less likely to ask questions when they see equipment laid out in travel luggage designed for photography, as it is logically very unlikely that you flew to another country and then suddenly decided to invest several grand into not only camera equipment but all the accessories that go with it as well (cleaning kits, remote, filters, etc.).  it's good to see that folks in transportation security still do use some basic common sense when screening.

EYEONE

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 623
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 10:38:04 AM »
I have travelled to Peru and England with my gear and had no trouble at all. Granted when I went to Peru I just had a Canon 450D and the kit lens. But I went to England I had my 7D and the 24-70L.

I was concerned about being asked about my equipment before we left but after thinking about it my conclusion was that tourist go to England with cameras all the time. Constantly. There's no way they would hassle everyone about their cameras. But I suppose it's good to be prepared.
Canon 5D Mark III w/BG-E11, Canon 7D w/BG-E7: EF 24-70mm f.2.8L, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II, EF 40mm f2.8 Pancake STM, Speedlite 430EXII + 430EXI, Canon EOS 3

Chewy734

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 238
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2011, 01:58:29 PM »
The first time I traveled internationally with high-end gear, I went through the trouble of downloading and filling out CBP Form 4457, the DHS form "Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad."  The idea is you fill out the form with gear and serial numbers, and a CBP (customs and border protection) official inspects your stuff and signs the form before you leave the country.  The problem was there isn't anyone to sign it in a convenient location - it has to be signed by a CBP officer, and they are all in the entry areas (where you can't easily get unless you're actually entering through customs). 

So, just bring copies of the invoices/receipts for the items (including your computer, if you bring one).  Honestly, that's just a precaution, I have never been asked to provide documentation by Customs abroad or returning to the USA. 

Definitely insure your gear, and read the policy to make sure you're covered for any type of loss and that the coverage is in force worldwide.  Personally, I have mine insured with State Farm, but you exclude them (why?).  Usually, coverage for personal gear (as opposed to gear used for business) is best obtained from the insurer who wrote your homeowners or renters policy, either as a rider on the main policy or as a separate policy.  I pay a little over $7/year per $1K of coverage. 

A related question - how are you planning on carrying your gear?  Are you flying internally within India?  Depending on the distance and the type of plane, a large bag may not fit for carry-on.  A 5DII with 24-105, 70-200/4 and 50/1.4 doesn't take up much room, so you should be just fine.  I tend to carry a lot more gear on longer trips - a fully loaded Lowepro Flipside 400 AW.  I put that entire backpack into a Pelican Storm im2500 hard case, just in case I'm forced to check it.

Have a great trip!

I read about that CBP form, and it is a pain in the ass to fill out and get approved.

The only reason I excluded State Farm, is because I've already heard a lot about them.  I guess I'll call my current renters insurance company and see if they would be able to insure this equipment.  If not, I'll have to call State Farm and get a quote.

The only problem with bringing invoices and receipts of the equipment, is if there was a fuss about it, those invoices don't show the serial number.  So, although it proves I bought that lens, it doesn't necessarily prove I bought that specific lens I have with me at the time.

I have a Lowepro Flipside 300, which is large enough to carry those three lenses and my 5D2, yet small enough to be carried on any flight (I hope).  I just won't be able to carry a flash, but I wasn't planning on that anyways.  It should hold the 5D2, those 3 lenses (max), battery charger, memory cards, iPad, and other small miscellaneous things.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 02:00:01 PM by Chewy734 »

nikkito

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 371
  • Argentine freelance photographer
    • View Profile
    • Facebook photo page
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2011, 02:44:45 PM »
I'm argentine but i live in switzerland since one year. When i went to Argentina on my holidays they asked about my equipment, but it was not a big deal. I just said i'm a photographer (which i am anyway, haha). But if you go to another country (other than yours) you shouldn't have any problem at all. Unless you have 5 bodies and 25 lenses  ;) and they can suspect you want to sell them or something like that.
www.nicolaszonvi.com - www.facebook.com/zonviphoto

1D X, 5D Mk III, 5D Mk II, 16-35L, 24-70L, 70-200L IS, 85 f1.2, 40 f2.8, 50 f1.4, Sigma 10-20 and many other toy cameras.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2011, 02:44:45 PM »

afira

  • Guest
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2011, 07:52:39 PM »
I had a picture taken with a Customs agent who checked out my camera bag prior to leaving Australia into Malaysia and Singapore, however, this was only because I had to fill out a Customs form anyway because I took a large opal over to my mother and got it duty-free from Australia. One way I have used previously is to grab a point and shoot, hold up your complete and unused ticket to where ever you're going, take it in front of your gate, display the equipment you have and usually Customs will take it as proof of you having or being in possession of the equipment prior to leaving. Otherwise, I usually end up with a new lens anyway, so I always claim it or at least one item I've purchased (usually much more) at Customs.

Obviously, you have to have overseas travel insurance for your equipment, sometimes you may not require coverage to every country, and some policies will let you customise your insurance to your trip, reducing the cost of premiums and overall insurance. I would suggest to do separate inquiries into your situation. We found that our policy for travel insurance covered individual non-specific electronic items up to $1000, but any items after that point would need to be listed and insured separately to our policy. Unfortunately, I only have suggestions for Australians.

expatinasia

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 925
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2011, 08:15:54 PM »
I travel quite frequently and have never had a problem from customs with all the electronics, cameras included I travel with.

However, one thing you do need to consider is which airlines you are flying with because many now have very strict carry on restrictions with regards to weight.

I normally only travel with carry on, and one airline had a strict 7kg allowance but my wheely bag had two laptops, camera, camcorder etc and it weighed well over 16! In fact there was hardly no clothes in it at all, it was just a weekend business trip afterall. Thankfully they let me on as there is no way I was checking all that in.

Happy travels.
1D X + backup + different L lenses etc.

gmrza

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 497
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2011, 10:42:21 PM »
I've flown around with lots of gear, and customs agents are actually less likely to ask questions when they see equipment laid out in travel luggage designed for photography, as it is logically very unlikely that you flew to another country and then suddenly decided to invest several grand into not only camera equipment but all the accessories that go with it as well (cleaning kits, remote, filters, etc.).  it's good to see that folks in transportation security still do use some basic common sense when screening.

The only case where you might get quizzed is if you live in a country where it is very expensive to buy gear.

I remember, many years ago, pricing some prime lenses while I was still living in South Africa, and it would have been cheaper to buy an air ticket to Hong Kong and buy the lenses there than to buy in a South African retailer.  So you could have a holiday in Hong Kong, plus buy your lenses for the price of what they would have cost in SA, and then possibly even have some spare change.  Customs were of course wise to this, and you did stand a good chance of your camera gear getting inspected, especially if you were carrying a SLR.  In fact, my entire film SLR kit was sourced overseas - I only bought equipment when I or a family member was traveling.

I think globalisation has seen much more levelling of prices between different countries, so you are less likely to see a premium of a multiple being charged in countries like South Africa any more.

More recently I spoke to a customs agent in SA while registering my gear, and at the time he indicated that they weren't really concerned as long as you were within the limits of 2 mobile phones, 1 laptop and 1 camera.  (That was somewhere around 2005.)
Zeiss Ikon Contax II, Sonnar 50mm f/2, Sonnar 135mm f/4

aldvan

  • Guest
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2011, 01:24:43 AM »
Some months ago, entering China border with serious photo equipment (specially a big white one...) I was afraid that, due to the political-mediatic sensitivity of that country, they could put some restriction about it, so I asked about the need to declare it. They were absolutely indifferent and boringly they say 'no'...

c-law

  • Rebel SL1
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
    • View Profile
    • Chris Law Photography
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2011, 02:05:27 AM »
If you get your gear insured then they will most definitely require you to provide serial numbers for each piece of equipment. So when you travel, having a copy of your insured equipment list with S/Ns from the insurer will prove that you both purchased and insured the equipment while still in your home country before you travelled abroad.

Chris
Canon 5D MkII, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, EF 70-200m f/2.8L IS USM, EF 50mm f/1.8 II, 580EX, LP160, a couple of home made macro & pinhole lenses.

Jamesy

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 718
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2011, 07:47:06 AM »
I live in Canada and I leave for Paris and London today. A few weeks back I took all my gear to a customs office near the airport in Toronto and got them to inventory everything and create a Y38 form for me. I even had them document lenses and my Gitzo 2 series which I do not intend to bring along. It was an easy process and apparently you can do it at the airport when leaving the country but you never know if there will be delays in line-ups, etc...

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2011, 07:47:06 AM »

sushyam

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 39
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2011, 11:08:26 AM »
Hello, I am from India and I travel with a 5dMk II, 24-70, 50 f1.4 and a 100mm macro. There are no restrictions in taking these as cabin luggage. I have travelled out of India twice to Nepal and Bhutan and had no problems with customs while returning. I had my invoice though.

Chewy734

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 238
    • View Profile
Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2011, 11:27:58 AM »
Thanks for the information guys.  I guess I worried a little too much.  I will get some insurance though before I leave, just to be on the safe side.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2011, 11:27:58 AM »