(Customs) Montego Bay, Jamaica and San Juan, Puerto Rico Airports...

Dec 6, 2014
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Are they QuadCopter Friendly Airports as far as bringing your Quad into the country?

I'm headed there in May and June and I would love to take my P2V+ v3.0 (if it's back from warranty work) or my P3P if delivered by then.
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I'm sorry. I should have made my post a little clearer.

I meant to discover if these airports allow people into the country with their Quads.

I'm pretty much aware of no fly zones.

Sorry for the confusion.
I live in jamaica. Yes you can fly here. No stringent laws yet. Just remember the airport rules.
Perfect! I will be there May 23-27th. I'm hoping I have no problems coming into the country with my Phantom.
I took my P2V+ into Montego Bay, Jamaica a couple of months ago, and didn't have any problems getting in or out. Customs didn't ask what was in my small carry-on backpack. Security was curious, recognized it as a quad on the X-ray, and asked me about it (not in a bad way though). I showed them a few videos and pictures and they absolutely loved it. No problems whatsoever.

Don't know about Puerto Rico...
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Took my p2 to San Juan and Vieques. No problems whatsoever easier than bringing a laptop
I just got back from vacationing in Montego Bay, Jamaica... Everything was fine until reaching customs. I'll apologize ahead of time for the length..I tried to cut back as many details as possible because I really don't want to make the story as long and boring as the experience was.

Here it goes:

Went in the "nothing to declare" line with my parents & sister. They all made it through effortlessly. I had a backpack on my shoulders, suitcase on four wheels, and my black seahorse case for my P3P on top of my suitcase so it was easier to wheel around. When it was my turn to get checked by the customs lady, she was suspicious of my case and said "what's in there?" I replied "a quadcopter" and she changed my wording with a distinct Jamaican accent to " 'tis a drone!" ... From that point on, she said I had to go in a different line to get it checked out. She said "you need to go over into that line; preferably over there" (Note: she didn't give any sort of pointing gesture with her hands or her head or anything..") So I went over to the line where everyone else was for declaring things. Everyone in front of me had 4+ suitcases full of stuff and many people had taped up flat screen TV boxes to get x-rayed. After about 30 minutes or so, a worker came up to me and said I was in the wrong line. She moved me over to the next one over that didn't have an x-ray machine and it was just a guy checking out things on a bag-by-bag basis. I was in this line for almost two hours. I finally got up there and the guy opened it up and called over another worker. At this point, everyone just seemed confused and tried to figure out what I had and I guess they were scared of this "newer" technology. (Keep in mind that my family is outside of the customs area waiting for me throughout this whole thing..) A few of the questions the customs workers asked me were "How old are you?" 18 "How long have you had this?" 3 - 4 weeks "How much did you pay for this?" about $1300

After waiting for a very long time and just watching a whole bunch of customs workers doing nothing but being on their phones, talking, and giggling with each other.. I finally had a lady come up and let me know what was going on. She said that the drone is automatically classified as a duty-able item and I had three options.

1. I could pay 50% of the value and take it into the country.
2. I could hire a customs broker to figure out the situation while they detain it until I'm "allowed" to bring it in.
3. Customs could detain it for my whole stay and I can pick it up before I leave Jamaica.

At this point, I was simply disappointed. All my research about Jamaica and UAV laws beforehand gone to waste.. I asked her if I could get my dad in here.. she said he can't come in here. She ended up escorting me out of the customs area where my dad was and my dad and sister were both there. She got them all up to speed with the situation and my options. My dad explained to her that we were there for vacation..etc. We asked to speak with another representative about the issue. The lady then grabbed a "higher-up" lady who was conveniently outside of customs at this time and that lady told us we have two options... She gave us Option 1 and Option 3 from the options from earlier. She said option 2 would be unethical for her to suggest. I told the two ladies that I had looked prior at the laws in Jamaica with regards to UAVs and not once did I see anything like this. We asked where we could see these rules and the lady responded "not everything is in black and white." ..... After some more conversing... my dad stated that "this sounds almost like extortion.." At this point, the customs ladies were stumped. My dad ended up speaking with the director or somebody else who was even more "up there" and we ended up having to pay a $500 deposit in which we would get back before we leave the country as long as we showed them that we still had the "drone" and the deposit receipt. (I'm assuming their biggest concern was trying to sell it in their country) After this mess, my only concern was whether we would get our money back or not. I was really relieved when I reached my resort's lobby in the airport -- they gave me a Red Stripe beer. finally.

Now, speeding through the relaxing vacation.......

We had to go to the delayed-baggage office with the receipt and "drone" to show them in order to get our money back. Upon arrival, the lady working the office was the same lady who was suspicious at the beginning and who said " 'tis a drone!". *sighs* .. She was still her lackadaisical self and after about 45 minutes, we ended up getting our deposit back with about an hour to spare before boarding the plane back to the US.

I'm sorry if the story was scattered..lots on my mind when I think about the whole situation. Was I just really unlucky or what? Do you think the customs workers were trying to get some extra cash?? Any thoughts?
Well that sucks, sorry to hear about your experience in Jamaica. We will be going through Montego Bay on the way to Negrll in October. If others say it is OK, I still plan to bring mine. We pay for the Montego Bay club, maybe having the escort will help things.
I agree with your dad, sounds like extortion and they wanted you to forget and keep your $$$
Well that sucks, sorry to hear about your experience in Jamaica. We will be going through Montego Bay on the way to Negrll in October. If others say it is OK, I still plan to bring mine. We pay for the Montego Bay club, maybe having the escort will help things.
I agree with your dad, sounds like extortion and they wanted you to forget and keep your $$$
I went to Jamaica last summer too and we stayed in Lucea. We took a catamaran up to Negril and on the way we stopped to snorkel, ate lunch in Margaritaville, and ended up at Rocks cafe!

Let me know how customs treats you.
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Good account of your entry, JoshWMS. I was in suspense about you getting your deposit back. Also a great reminder that some people move at a different pace than we're used to. Excellent post. Thanks!
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Hey. I'm glad you got the chance to visit the island. So sorry for the bad experience. Jamaica has some issues with a lot of scamming taking place especially in Montego bay area. They could have just issued you with the document for you to produce when leaving but I guess I understand they're thinking they don't want you to sell it and they don't get some sort of duty. I hope you had a good time tho.
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Was I just really unlucky or what? Do you think the customs workers were trying to get some extra cash?? Any thoughts?

Unfortunately, many countries have very strict customs rules. In fact, I'm often paranoid about this as I travel regularly to developing countries. Developing countries tend to have the strictest rules of all. Many of them have very strict limits on electronics. Because I tend to travel with a lot of electronics, (dslrs, laptop, gopro, gimbals - and soon, P3) I get paranoid about this all the time... I've been searched by people looking for drugs in Latin America, but I've yet to have any run-ins with customs.

I've never been to Jamaica, but even in corrupt countries - with few exceptions - official airport customs people are not looking for a few bucks from random tourists. If there is corruption at the airport, they do it on much grander, hidden scale. Airports are almost always safe in this way. I know that Jamaica ranks high on the corruption index, but I would still be surprised if this went on at the airport.

My strategy? Look like a poor backpacker. My luggage is dirty and has duct tape on it. I travel light. My expensive things are not packed in flashy boxes and cases that make them look even more expensive. My things look as used, as cheap, as benign as possible. I dress down. I have no idea if any of this helps, but so far, so good...
Ouch, that is an unlucky story indeed. I got through customs in Montego Bay just fine with my quad, and looking back, I now realize I must either have been just plain lucky, or I got through without being questioned because my quad is in a tiny dull-looking black backpack and doesn't attract much attention.

However you look at this, it sounds like corruption or extortion, and even if they were following official rules, the way they handled it was very unprofessional and spoiled your vacation. I'll be avoiding traveling to Jamaica again in the future.

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