Getting Through Customs in St. Martin

Enjoy duty free shopping in St. Maarten

Photo credit: © Chiyacat |

St. Martin Customs

Sint Maarten is the only completely duty free port in the Caribbean and attracts shoppers in swarms to it's duty free shops. Travelers can save anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent on luxury and designer items.

While the border between the two small islands of Sint Maarten and St. Martin may not have any official customs and immigration checkpoints, vacationers traveling to the country from foreign destinations will still need to be aware of customs regulations for the small island. Travelers should keep the exemption and customs limits for their own country in mind while shopping duty free in Sint Maarten. Exceeding the exemption can mean being charged with a sizable import tax.


Sint Maarten is a completely duty free destination, meaning that all items bought within the island are without added taxes. While customs regulations for travelers coming into the country are generally not stringent, vacationers should not import any item in excess. General allowances for both St. Martin and Sint Maarten will be like much of the rest of the Caribbean: 2 liters of alchohol, 200 cigarrettes, 50 cigars, and 250 grams of tobacco. Travelers should never bring illegal drugs into a country and should always research current rules for other items such as pets or food. The exportation of coral and shells from Sint Maarten and St. Martin is illegal.

Travelers returning to the United States from St. Martin and Sint Maarten have an $800 dollar allowance. Items that you have bought duty free in Sint Maarten can still be taxed when you bring them into the United States. When returning to the United States, keep sales receipts and items that need to be declared packed separately to speed your progress through the line. Any items you have acquired, whether through gift or purchase, must be declared in your allowance. Travelers should consider registering expensive items that they will take with them on their trip prior to leaving the country in order to avoid paying a tax on it. Residents who have been out of the country for at least 48 hours may bring back:

  • 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars (non-Cuban)

  • 1 liter of alcohol (for residents 21 years of age or older) 2 liters of alcohol may be brought back from Caribbean Basin Countries (former Netherlands Antilles), as long as one liter is produced locally.

  • If you have been out of the country for less 48 hours, you may bring back 50 cigarettes, 10 cigars, 150 milliliters of liquor or 150 milliliters of perfume.

Vacationers returning to the United States should make themselves aware of other regulations for the importation of other goods and rules concerning sending packages into the country. Meat, fruit and wildlife, for example, are generally prohibited items for importation. Consult for more information.

Country Contact Information
United States U.S. Customs Service
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20229
United Kingdom HM Customs & Excise
Canada Canada Border Services Agency
France Embassy of France in the United States
4101 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Netherlands Royal Netherlands Embassy
4200 Linnean Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20008
Australia Australian Customs Service
New Zealand New Zealand Customs Service

Knowing the rules prior to traveling will save you the hassle and potential expense of being over your allowance when returning from your vacation in Sint Maarten and St. Martin.


Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.