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Carrying precious metals


Hi All, I’m going to Belgium for a couple of months and want to take
metals, gem stones and equipment with me. I will send some of the
equipment using UPS or a similar service, but I want to keep my
precious metals and my gemstones with me (appr. a kg. of Sterling,
130 dwt of gold, some palladium). All of these were purchased in the
USA by a foreigner (I’m Belgian). This makes me paranoid, because I
am not sure how to handle this. Can I leave the country with these
metals without having to pay a tax of some kind? Also, I do not want
other passengers to know what I am carrying in my hand luggage. How
can I best handle this situation? Does anyone has tips? Thank you
and best regards, Will Denayer


Will - I can’t speak to the duties, etc., but as far as carrying
precious items, I use a high quality but well-worn backpack. Put
the precious things in ziplock bags, well wrapped, in the bottom, and
stuff lots of “tourist” stuff on top - extra sweater (that I won’t
use but covers what is in the bottom), books, snacks, etc. - and
just look like I’m on an outing. So far it has worked just fine
(always a first time - lets hope not!). The knapsack is sturdy, easy
to carry, fits under the seat in an airplane, and is easy to carry
into bathrooms, phone booths, etc.

Good luck.
Beth in SC


Will, I used to travel internationally on business quite a bit, and
was always advised when carrying anything of value that I should have
ample documentation for that item with me. Particularly with jewelry
and similar items, I was told to carry the receipts for the items,
showing when and where it was purchased. Otherwise, it’s up to the
inspector at customs to decide whether s/he believes you about its
point of origin.

In today’s world, quantities of hard currency, precious metals, and
gems are used in money laundering schemes, so it’s especially
critical that you be complete in your documentation to avoid
suspicion. Also, you’re traveling to an area where people go to BUY
these things – so it would be a possible red flag on re-entry (or on
leaving Belgium) that you might be trying to avoid significant duties
on purchases made there. Having your U.S. receipts handy (copies of
them are encouraged, not originals) could save a bit of a hassle.

Just a thought!