Import duty for schools, churches

Construction materials for schools and churches, previously duty-free under the old Customs Tariff Law, will now be charged duty under the new tariff arrangement.

In addition, certain equipment for schools that had been certified by the chief education officer will now carry various duty rates.

The list of dutiable items has officially expanded to more than 200 pages, with about 5,000 different items under a new classification system put into effect by the Cayman Islands Customs Department.

Some of the changes mean importers will pay less or nothing for items that were previously dutiable.

Other items will require duty where none existed before, or will require higher rates than before.

According to the law, all “unsolicited” gifts not exceeding $50 in value that could previously be picked up free at the post office will be charged duty as well.

Most books will remain duty-free, but a 22 percent duty will be applied to professional reference books. Items such as notebook paper, composition books, certain school supplies and school uniforms are now all duty-free.

Duty charged on the importation of fully electric vehicles has been reduced to 10 percent; a 15 percent import duty on hybrid vehicles will be charged. Duties for conventional motor vehicles are determined according to the value of the vehicle, and range from 29.5 percent for vehicles valued at $20,000 or less, to 42 percent for vehicles greater than $30,000.

Other changes include an increase in import duties charged for fish and shellfish, from 12 percent to 17 percent. Animal saddles and harnesses will now be charged a 17 percent duty. Tariffs on leather clothing, wool clothing, potters clay, ceramic coloring, and cotton gloves with lace embroidery increase from zero to 22 percent under the new law. Additionally, the duty on lace piece-goods (lace sold from the bolt at retail in lengths specified by the customer) increases from zero to 12 percent.

The new law sets a tariff of 50 percent on “worked turtle shell.” Live turtles and most turtle products, including “unworked turtle shell,” remain duty-free.

A “blanket fee” on imported goods was also implemented as part of the duty changes. That fee, charged at 15 cents per cubic foot, will be charged for all customs inspections for “loose” cargo being imported either by sea or air mail.

New duties will also be charged to various items including nicotine products, human organs and body parts, and windmills.

Although it was passed in the Legislative Assembly in 2012, the Customs Tariff Law did not come into force until March 1 of this year. The delay was due to the implementation of a harmonized coding system for items that required an upgrade in customs department computers.

The new system is used internationally by more than 150 jurisdictions and will provide the Cayman Islands more accurate information on what the territory earns in revenues from import duties each year.


  1. How about postcards sent to a CI resident that never arrive or returned? It cost 4 to buy a card, 2 to mail to CI. It makes me think that someone opens mail in search of money that sometime come (or used to come) with gift cards, and then throws it away. There is no other explanation. Cards just can’t disappear on its own. Who is responsible for that? Is there internal control in place? Also,what a shame to tax minimum value gifts mailed to individuals.

  2. Why the duties on schools and school supplies?

    If a government school then it is just money out of one pocket into the other.
    So the only schools that will suffer are the private ones. Mostly attended by ex-pat children who are not allowed to attend government schools.

    Is that the intent?

    Or has there been a problem with building materials and other supplies coming in duty free because they were supposedly for schools but were in fact going elsewhere? Which is certainly possible.

  3. Looks to be a direct punch in the face to the local crafters (leather clothing, potters clay, ceramic coloring, and cotton gloves with lace).

    Im curious what the duty will be on a new kidney (body part)?
    Will the scale slide for some?

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