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Customs Office Beats a Retreat on Baggage Crackdown

Responding to Criticism and Tourism Industry Concerns, Indonesia Customs Promises Arriving Passengers Will not be Harassed for Carrying Normal Amount of Personal Effects.

(12/27/2010) In what will be seen as a welcome retreat from earlier announcements to impose strict limits on the amount of personal effects travelers can carry into Indonesian ports [See: Customs to Tighten Control on Accompanying Luggage]. Customs officials have only now formally denied any change in policy or procedure will be introduced regarding accompanied luggage with the start of 2011.

Denying stricter control were on the cards, Evi Suhartantyo, a spokesperson for the Director General of Customs and Excise, told The Jakarta Globe: "Customs at the airports or seaports will proceed as usual. It's impossible to go checking baggage one by one as it would jam the ports."

The latest pronouncement was in direct contradiction with an earlier statement made by a government official, Yudi Permadi, clarifying a regulation published by the Minister Of Finance in 2010. Permadi had warned that citizens and returning residents could expect firm adherence to rules limiting the value of accompanying personal effects to US$250 or a family traveling together to US$1,000.

These rules are, in fact, the same rules that have been on the books for over two decades. The re-promulgation of baggage rules, via Ministerial decree in 2010 (Peraturan Menteri Keuangan Nomor 188/PMK.04/2010), Permadi's foreboding public statement, and the general concern that anyone carrying a mobile telephone and a personal computer would be at risk of violating the law had travel circles concerned that an insidious crackdown was on the horizon would result in havoc for international travelers arriving at Indonesian ports.

Seeking to explain the confusion, Evi told the press: "Those are old rules that have been in place for more than 20 years now. We have received complaints that our CD (customs declaration) is complicated. So we cut the size, reduced the questions to just 11 from 15 and have provided separate forms for Bahasa Indonesia and English."

Evi argue that the restatement of the value limitations was merely a reiteration of the existing rules within the new regulation published by Finance Ministry announcing the simple Custom's forms that will be introduced on January 1, 2011.

The new regulation also requires travelers to declare cash, checks or other forms of payment with a value exceeding Rp 100 million ($11,100).