Will we have trouble bringing camera equipment to Central America?
December 15, 2011 11:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find out whether we're going to have trouble bringing still and video camera equipment into Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, and my Google-fu is failing me.

I'm logistics lead for a fairly major delegation to Mexico and Central America in January. We will have a photographer and a videographer travelling with us to document the trip. Both will obviously be bringing a fair bit of equipment, though not a ridiculous amount, since we'll be moving around a lot.

Does anyone know, either from experience or better Google skills than mine, whether we can expect to have an difficulties upon arrival in these countries? We'll be flying in to each country's capital.
posted by sabotagerabbit to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
Do you know if you need a carnet for the equipment?
posted by wingless_angel at 12:10 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: I do not have direct experience, but from being around the edges of a few big foreign technology demonstrations, I'm guessing what you'll want is an ATA Carnet. This is basically a declaration that "We are bringing in $$$$$ in valuable equipment, but we promise that we're not going to sell it and are going to leave with it in a finite period." Not sure how that works for film/video gear, since in our case it was computer equipment (some of it custom-built one-offs), but I imagine it's similar. Of course, I'd be interested to hear from people with more experience if I'm barking up the wrong tree..
posted by Alterscape at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ah, I hadn't even heard of that before. I will look into it some more, and also speak again with the photographer and videographer, since they've both travelled a fair bit for work and so maybe they've had to use one before...
Does anyone have experience notusing one? Our time is getting a little bit tight, so I'm worried that I may not have time to apply for one...
posted by sabotagerabbit at 1:03 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: Get a carnet. It's worth the trouble. If you can pretend just to be tourists with a point and shoot, you won't have much trouble, but coming in with a lot of pro gear is just begging for a sizable bribe.

And make sure they've got that equipment insured and never leave it out of your sight for a moment. Not in a car, in a trunk of a car, in your hotel room or in the hotel's luggage room. I work in documentary and no camera operator leaves his/her equipment anyplace unattended.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2011

Here's a list of what you can bring into Mexico.

The last time I came into Mexico, I unintentionally broke the rules by carrying both a laptop and a netbook. The customs people noticed them on the x-ray, pulled them out to examine them, and asked me about it. I said I needed them for my online business, and they did a cursory check of the rest of the bag and waved me through.

I live in Mexico and have been in and out several times through airports. I've never had a Mexican customs official suggest a bribe and haven't heard of it happening to anyone I know. The only story I know of is some American men trying to bribe a customs official and having their offer ignored. (Bribes are more of a police thing.)
posted by ceiba at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2011

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