Software employee Shantanu Bose thinks the best part about the Union Budget was the increase in duty-free baggage allowance. He can now get more electronic items on his next trip abroad. The finance minister raised the allowance for eligible Indian passengers from Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000. For children up to 10 years, it has been increased from Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000.
“I can now get goods worth Rs 85,000 (Rs 35,000 each for my wife and myself and Rs 15,000 for my eight-year-old son) — goods worth Rs 23,000 more,” says Bose, a gizmo lover.
Madhavan Menon, MD of Thomas Cook, agrees: “In principle, this is a good move. But an increase of Rs 10,000 is not much. The allowance should have been increased to at least Rs 50,000.” The baggage allowance was last revised in 2004.
Typically, all passengers get a duty-free allowance, within which they can get goods without paying any duty. When the total value of goods exceed the duty-free allowance limit, Customs duty at a flat rate has to be paid on the value exceeding the limit, which varies across items.
According to Karan Anand, head (relationships), Cox & Kings, the existing allowance had outlived its utility, as income levels in India were rising and it did not reflect the reality.
Experts say most Indian travellers, like Bose, get back electronic items, as gadgets are much cheaper abroad. Besides, Indians also bring gold jewellery and personal care items.
However, there is some grey area. For instance, if one wears gold jewellery, he/she is most unlikely to be questioned by the Customs authority. Personal care items are mostly left unchecked. Also, if the electronics are unpacked, authorities can leave it unchecked in some countries.