Bringing electronic equipment into BA


Apr 1, 2008
Hi everyoneI'm moving to BA in two weeks with my girlfriend, have got a transfer with my company and have a permanent job.I don't have my visa arrangements sorted yet, company were slack in telling me what I needed to do and I suspect I'm going to have to arrange things once I'm there. I want to bring in some equipment I use to make music into the country - a laptop, a few audio machines and some studio speakers. I understand that there are high customs taxes for importing goods, but these can be got around if you are bringing personal property over and if you have residency. Does anyone have any experience with this? I don't want to bring things in my suitcase only to have to pay crazy amounts at customs to get them into the country. I'm mostly bringing the same things tourists would - clothes and gadgets (camera, mp3 player) and audio hardware is going to stick out as an unusual item for a tourist to take on holiday. I can store stuff in the UK and arrange for it to be shipped at a later date once I have residency, but I'd rather avoid paying to ship it and bring it with me when I travel if this is possibleAll help much appreciated!Jonny
Its a gamble.
On the customs form, it says "second hand" or "usado" items are not subject to duty.
But the customs people can basically, like government officials everywhere, do whatever they want.
Last week, I came thru EZE with 4 huge duffel bags of stuff, including some audio gear. And several sets of new sheets, towels, a set of flatware, pots and pans, and so on- all much cheaper and higher quality in the USA. I am filling an empty apartment in BsAs.
I went right into the "nothing to declare" line, fed it thru the big scanning machine, picked it up on the way out, and got into the remise, and nobody said a word.
However, they can charge you duty if they want.
Since the same equipment is probably either going to be twice the price, or completely unavailable in BsAs, I recommend biting the bullet, and paying the duty if needed.
I brought photocopies of receipts for it all with me, so I could document
A- that it was indeed used, not brand new
B- actual, much lower than Argentinian, purchase prices.
But since I was not questioned, I have no idea whether that strategy would have worked or not.

I have flown into EZE 4 or 5 times in the last year, and every time, I see Argentine Citizens blithely tossing suitcases the size of small cars into the "nothing to declare" line, usually so many of them per person that it would seem they are importing entire apartments worth of stuff.
That leads me to believe that it is common practice to try to carry in as much booty as you can each time you enter the country.

There is no guarantee, however, that you will not be asked about it.
Thats just the way it works in Argentina.
Thanks for getting back to me Ries, this is really helpful advice. I will just have to make sure everything I bring into the country looks battered and worn :)CheersJonny
When I first moved here a couple of years ago, I flew in on two or three occasions with small suitcases loaded with electronics: laptops, routers, wireless access points, switches, etc. The most scrutiny I got was some customs agent at EZE asking me if I was a U.S. citizen.Can't guarantee things will work that way for you, but I never had a problem.
Hi ronnyjob,I have been compiling information about the visa
process in order to share the details with those who are interested.
You wrote that you are coming to Argentina to work, but apparently will
begin you stay with a 90 day tourist visa (which can automatically be
extended at migraciones for 90 days). As your company was "slack" in
telling you what you needed to do, are you sure your company knows
precisely what you do indeed need to do? I am not familiar with the
specific requirement of the work visa, but all visas do require a
certified copy of a birth certificate (issued post 2000) and a home
country police report. All of the required documents from the UK need
to have the seal of apostille prior to being brought into Argentina
(including supporting docs regarding your job).

Though I applied for and received the visa rentista in Buenos Aires, I
have heard repeated stories that it is necessary to actually "pick up"
a work visa out of the country. I did ask about this at migraciones
and was told that it is possible to do this in Uruguay, even if you are
from the States or UK. Of course you would need to verify this and
make the appropriate arrangements. Please share the information here
on the forum when you know the details. FYI, if your girlfriend isn't
working or getting a long term (one year) visa, remember that she can
repeat the six month "stay" in Argentina by leaving the country (if
only for a day trip to Colonia) and reentering on a new tourist visa.

As for my experience in bring "stuff" into the country, customs doesn't
seen to care if you have a lot of clothes (without tags) and an average
number of electronics (one of everything you want to have here). Yes,
you can bring a lot more within six months of being granted permanent
residency, but is is not the same as having a one year visa of any
kind. Anything you ship will be subject to a 50% duty (including the
shipping costs) and they will want to see receipts or invoices. You
cannot legally ship used clothing into the country, so pack all your
duds in your suitcases and bring them with you on the plane.

I would be happy to put you in touch with the person who helped me obtain my visa (actually going with me to migraciones and translating, thereby making everything so smoothly and overcoming several issues with explanations that I simply could not have provided). I can also recommend a certified translator for the documents and an escribano to notarize them. Both are fast and charge reasonable rates. They will not overcharge you because you are a foreigner (a way of life here).
My experience is that no hassle at airport customs. Hire a porter to take your stuff through (5 or 10 p) and you won't even need to put it thru the machines. Of course this could change at any time.
You can't legally import used clothes into the country? That seems rather strange... I can bring my whole house hold good but not my clothes? I didn't see that anywhere. Can you point me to where you found this info? Clearly, I've missed something potential serious as all my clothes will not fit in my luggage.....
Of course you can bring your (used) clothes with you on the plane (as I will be doing in a couple weeks) and include as much as you want as part of a shipment of your household goods, but "legally" you can't import (for the purpose of resale) used clothes into the country via UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. "Used clothing" is on their list of prohibited goods, along with credit cards and pornography (check their websites). The reason for the prohibition of the import of used clothes is to protect the domestic clothing industry. New clothing (with tags) above $300 in value is subject to duty when brought in your luggage. I doubt that enforcement of this regulation is very strict for small shipments through the US mail. If you arrive with a suitcase full of Prada or Gucci with the with the tags still attached there could be some interest from customs IF they happen to(randomly) inspect your bags.

When I return to BA I will bring a couple of 70lb dufle bags full of used (without tags) clothes and I don't anticipate any problems. Anything you ship (except during the window after receiving permanent residency ) is subject to duty.
I've had parcels with used and some new clothing with tags cut off sent to me and not had trouble when I've collected it from the post office in Retiro. Everything I have sent is signed for, though, as all other parcels sent unregistered were stolen. Maybe there is a weight limit?
Quoting "steveinbsas": ". . . . Anything you ship (except during the window after receiving permanent residency ) is subject to duty."
A question out of ignorance (or out of confusion engendered by reading technical information in Spanish): does the six-month window commence on the date one is accorded permanent residency, on the date (earlier, I'd suppose) he began in fact to reside in Argentina, or on some other date? From my scanty reading, I had thought that the second was the date used, but your statement makes me think the first more likely.
Many thanks for whatever you can tell us.