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QUESTION FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS! Getting Photo Equipment through Customs?

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#1 ~Stephanie~

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    Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:53 PM

    MOD's I apologize if this thread already exists but I didn't find one in my search on this specific topic, please direct me in the right direction if I am mistaken...

    I am planning on getting a photographer from the U.S. to go with to do our wedding in Playa del Carmen but I heard that there could be problems getting equipment though customs... here is one photographer's response...

    "The problem with Mexico is getting my equipment in and out of Mexico safely so I don't stress about it. I have heard many many horror stories throughout the industry of penalties and confiscations because if your going to work in their country they want their cut. So what I have found out is you can either declare all your equipment and pay extra or sneak it in but you are taking your chances. I'm not sure what other photographers do but I work with 3 camera bodies and 6 different lens's on me all the time (and some flash equipment), going to 2 camera bodies wouldn't be a problem but when going through customs I have heard that if you take more than one they assume your a pro and working. I would ask the other photographers how they are getting their equipment down there and if they are only taking one camera body I wouldn't hire them (what if it breaks?). One way to get around this is photographers I know take assistants to be able to break up their equipment."

    SO my question is, when I chose my photographer (who will likely be someone who has not photographed in Mexico) what do I need to tell them or have them do to get their equipment in and out??


    Our wedding websitewww.mywedding.com/stephanieandmichaelbailey

    #2 Matt Adcock

    Matt Adcock
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      Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:10 PM

      Your photographer has every right to be stressed about the more than 2 camera rule...

      Fact is, if they find 3 (even a small point and shoot) you will have to declare a value on that camera and pay a tax to import it or leave it with customs until the departure. Pro camera bodies range from 2kish -7kish.... seriously, if he/ she has a set of Nikon D3s or a Canon Mark III's, those rigs are super duper spendy.... I "think" the penalty of not declaring is 25% of the camera's original purchased value. 15% if you declare it upon entrance. They can research the cost of the camera if you don't have a receipt.

      I can confirm that this happened to OUR Mexican / American wedding photographer, Sergio upon getting the Red.

      Plus, they scan the bags of every flight. 2 weeks ago on our last entry into cancun airport, Sol was traveling with me, we had 4 cameras total in 2 diff bags, but they went through Xray at the same time and got flagged by the operator. Even though we got the green light, they looked at our stuff (every bag) and let us pass because we had 2 camera bodies each, the allowed limit.

      For some togs, shooting with 3 bodies is the only way to go.... Any body ever heard of Ben Chrisman, world class award winner and photographer of the year.... he shoots 3 rigs....many others do and its because their style demands it. Changing that to 2 breaks their routine, not so good.

      Is your photog concerned / stressed about the visa situation? I give em props for at least paying attention to the 2 body rule....

      #3 ~Stephanie~

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        Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:25 PM

        Matt- I really appreciate your response! So to make sure I am clear, my photographer can bring 2 camera bodies without getting in trouble or paying or applying for anything? Is there a limit for other equipment? Lens, flash?

        Do they need to apply for a work visa then?

        Thanks so much for your help!

        Our wedding websitewww.mywedding.com/stephanieandmichaelbailey

        #4 TammyB

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          Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:47 PM

          I'm pretty certain if you travel from the US to Mexico you are only allowed 3 lens and yes you can take a flash. However this is the first I heard that you can take two camera bodies, but Matt travels more then I do, so I' am sure he wouldn't steer you wrong. :-)

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