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divrndeep

ATTENTION: UW PHOTOGRAPHERS going to Baja Mexico:

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12 hours ago, calbeardiver said:

I was on a Nautilus charter the 2nd week of December.   After a crappy sequence of broken planes, got there 8 hours late at 11pm and hit the red button.   However, they only fixated on the bag with the dive gear and simply asked if we only had 2 sets of regulators, then let us on our way.   Not sure if time of day played into it - we were among the first to leave the baggage area.   I had a thinktank, but kept the nauticam housing for my gh4 in a carry on laptop bag, though both were put in the xray.   I opted not to bring a drone, as a mix of not wanting the extra 3lbs, and not wanting to deal with possible customs hassle for limited shot potential on the trip.  

However, 2 guests on the charter were tagged - in one case, got the green light, but the agent saw the nauticam logo on a bag.  When he presented the Mexican regs as instructed by Nautilus, they got testy with him.   Ended up deciding each of these folks was good for an $80 shakedown.  

If the worst case were under a hundred, it might be easy to ignore the concern, but it's 16% of deemed value and many have been hit for 300+.    I'm with you in thinking there are plenty of other places to visit.   

Fellow divers I know from Switzerland, Spain, USA, United Kingdom, etc were slammed with over $600 fees since they had nice camera gear with them. Some divers flew into La Paz, others flew into Cabo, One man who responded to my post on another website stated he was extorted by customs when he drove a car down to Baja to dive. He was quite irritated that he had to pay $300 for his own personal, amateur photo gear. 

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On 11/10/2019 at 5:22 AM, Pajjpen said:

Was just about to ask this. I usually fly into Mexico City first and spend a day there then head out to Cabo.  Haven’t had any problems this way but then again it has been a few years since I was there.

also, anyone knows if this applies for uw monitor housings as well? Could end up being very expensive.

Flying into Cabo or La Paz via Mexico City does not guarantee you immunity from Customs camera fees. Some of my friends were charged over $600 on their UW housings in order to be allowed to enter Baja Mexico with their gear. They flew into Mexico City from Switzerland, so they were a captive group that had to pay or go back home. It is truly bad business for Baja and the dive industry needs to take notice and take action!

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Back in the 90s in Cabo a small group of us where run thru the dive photo shakedown-we had reciepts and detailed gear lists on value and had signed some forms that gear was not for sale in Mexico and was to be returned to US. They hasseled us but in the end let us go without fees. WE where on a private charter (6 of us) to the San Benedicto and Roca Partida on a trimaran which was transiting from Santa Barbara to the Caribbean. Spent two weeks shooting sharks and mantas-really great trip back then before fishing wiped out much of the sharks 

My suggestion is get all your paperwoork in order and be prepared for the shakedown-keep your values low and of course all your equipment was bought used right.

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The 90's was a long time ago. Baja has gotten tougher in the past few years. If you are stopped, you will pay 16% of the value that the Customs agent researches on his smart phone for your camera gear. The limit for tourists is $3,000 worth of camera equipment for personal use. Most UW housings ALONE are worth more that $3,000. If you show your actual purchase receipts you will most likely pay 16% of that retail value to use your own gear anyway. It is not worth it for me. Until the dive industry takes action against the Mexican customs extortion fees, I will not dive there.

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Time to start e-mailing the Mexican tourist board it sounds

darn stright the 90s was some time back-but its when the life was there big time-Like Palau in the 80s-way better than Nowdays

Less trash in the pacific as well.-I'm still diving the planet its just further away to get to the good stuff

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Certainly - while I did get away unscathed in Coz I have no intention of returning to any part of Mexico for any reason until they get their house in order on the shakedowns and fraud (that includes the taxi drivers...).

So many other amazing places to go.  

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On 1/1/2020 at 10:08 AM, divrndeep said:

The 90's was a long time ago. Baja has gotten tougher in the past few years. If you are stopped, you will pay 16% of the value that the Customs agent researches on his smart phone for your camera gear. The limit for tourists is $3,000 worth of camera equipment for personal use. Most UW housings ALONE are worth more that $3,000. If you show your actual purchase receipts you will most likely pay 16% of that retail value to use your own gear anyway. It is not worth it for me. Until the dive industry takes action against the Mexican customs extortion fees, I will not dive there.

It's best if you stick to facts and not make such absolute statements.   You keep repeating the worst case as the norm.  Helpful as it is to know how bad it can be, repeatedly counting these individual events over the signal of anyone else just distorts reality.   Ideally we'd be seeing reports from all Baja travelers on WP.   But as a rule, the internet is much better at reporting the bad events than the normal ones.  

On my charter, the majority did not get hit, and the two that did got a smaller grab, despite having quite nice equipment.  I was inspected, yet did not pay, despite the $1900 nauticam housing, the 4 and 6" domes, the dual D2 and spare D1 strobes.  

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Respectfully, my heads up warning to photo divers was not one "individual event".  Also, it is easy to minimize the surprise financial "hit" experienced by multiple divers I spoke to from different countries on varied flights, and separate tours when it did not happen to you. 

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On 12/31/2019 at 11:08 PM, calbeardiver said:

I was on a Nautilus charter the 2nd week of December.   After a crappy sequence of broken planes, got there 8 hours late at 11pm and hit the red button.   However, they only fixated on the bag with the dive gear and simply asked if we only had 2 sets of regulators, then let us on our way.   Not sure if time of day played into it - we were among the first to leave the baggage area.   I had a thinktank, but kept the nauticam housing for my gh4 in a carry on laptop bag, though both were put in the xray.   I opted not to bring a drone, as a mix of not wanting the extra 3lbs, and not wanting to deal with possible customs hassle for limited shot potential on the trip.  

However, 2 guests on the charter were tagged - in one case, got the green light, but the agent saw the nauticam logo on a bag.  When he presented the Mexican regs as instructed by Nautilus, they got testy with him.   Ended up deciding each of these folks was good for an $80 shakedown.  

If the worst case were under a hundred, it might be easy to ignore the concern, but it's 16% of deemed value and many have been hit for 300+.    I'm with you in thinking there are plenty of other places to visit.   

What airport did you fly into?

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20 hours ago, divrndeep said:

Respectfully, my heads up warning to photo divers was not one "individual event".  Also, it is easy to minimize the surprise financial "hit" experienced by multiple divers I spoke to from different countries on varied flights, and separate tours when it did not happen to you. 

It's not clear how many events you're reporting, but you did it everywhere on the internet, and repeatedly (just count the number of times in this thread alone).   Before the trip, I saw your posts, but your posts representing the majority of reports I could find, making it extremely difficult to quantify the extent of the problem, and how severely to react when the trip was occurring in a week regardless.  

Tursiops - I flew into SJD, but due to delays, did not arrive until 11pm on a Saturday.  

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calbeardiver: looking at this thread and the thread on scubaboard, it is obviously a problem beyond a couple instances. Nautilus has posted information on their site on how to handle it and a suggested form in Spanish to give the custom folks. They certainly are reacting to situations their customers have found going through customs at SJD and perhaps La Paz. I believe that dirvndeep is doing us all a favor in highlighting the situation. I, for one, will be avoiding Mexico for the foreseeable future until this situation is resolved.

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Is this just happening at airports? I'm going to a cruise, leaving out of San Diego, and am told there will be diving opportunities at the ports in route and I would like to plan ahead as best I can.

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I'm suddenly, and sadly, and grumpily, very interested in this topic. I heard about it a week or so ago and we're going in 4 weeks.
I'm gutted! Have e-mailed the liveaboard and asked for their suggestions to manage this. My concern is that if we get a big fee at the airport we will struggle to afford the tip for the liveaboard crew. Not so fair at all.
Had we known in advance I don't think we would have booked to go to Socorro at all.
Thanks everyone who has posted packing advice etc.

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