I'm about to be sent abroad to shoot video outside a US territory for the first time. Could someone tell me what type of documentation my gear needs to travel? I've heard something about needing documentation of serial numbers of all electronic gear, and that makes sense, but is there anything else (besides my passport, of course) that I need?
Also, any tips/tricks for travel anyone can give to make this easier? If you've gone to South America, what did you run into? Was power problematic for you?
Thanks in advance. Any input would be helpful.
Scott Davis, Videographer
Time Warner Cable Media Sales
Normally when you travel to a different country, the customs department at that country will want you to pay an import tax when you arrive. This is solved by various means including a CARNET for all your equipment or declaring the equipment as in transit when you arrive. Each country is different as to what local custom officials expect from you.
In some countries in South America, you may be expected to contact a local import/export company to do all your paper work in advance. In other countries, you just declare the equipment when you arrive and the customs agent stamps your passport. You may want to contact a local Director of Photography to know in advance what will be expected from you at the airport.
Regardless, you will need various copies of a document that lists all your equipment and the serial numbers. Always declare all the equipment you are traveling with BEFORE going through customs.
If you can, travel with someone that speaks the local language... you will be happy if you do.
Power in South America is usually 220 volts, 50Hz. Some exceptions are parts of Bolivia and Peru where the electricity is similar to that found in the USA (110v, 60Hz).
ALWAYS bring your camcorder as carry-on luggage. The same goes for your video monitor, take it onboard as carry-on luggage.
Check the voltage inputs on your gear... most have wide ranging inputs usually from 90 to 240 volts. You may want to pick up the right plug adapters to be able to plug in!!! http://www.simacorp.com/products/item.ep.html?session=2fa98d7bede4fbc80f2d5...
When you show up at the airport in SA, what are you going to tell immigration when they ask you what your purpose of visiting is?
If all you are bringing is a small handicam, you might get away with claiming you are a tourist. But then again you might not and end up in jail or deported for lieing to immigration.
You need a work permit for just about any visit to a foriegn country. This will take some time and effort. Call the nearest consulate of the country you are visiting. You will need to justify your working in their country vs. just hiring somebody locally. You are a rich American taking jobs from poor Brazilians.
I just shot for a week in Japan. The production company dealt with the consulate and arranged my work visa and also handled the carnet. Make sure you follow ALL of the instructions on getting the carnet stamped at every turn.
He may sound alarmist, but shooter's absolutely right, esp. about SA. (I've never been, but a friend who shot there had to hand over every dollar he had to the authorities, in order to get out with equipment and film.) I even had trouble getting into Scotland, where they specifically asked about the work angle, which hadn't even occurred to me. When I told them the nature of the project (low-budget historical doc) and that I was hiring a Scottish assistant, that seemed to help. But I was naive to think I could just sashay in with my four cases of gear.
I would really like to learn more about this from other U.S. citizens who've traveled and shot abroad. I imagine it varies tremendously from place to place. But once you're in the Eurozone, there doesn't seem to be any border control at all.
otoh... it's great shooting in a new place.