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How to prepare your shipment for Cayman Islands Customs clearance.

Every day, international shipments destined to Cayman Islands are selected and held by the Cayman Islands Customs & Border Control (“CBC” or “Customs”). Some of these shipments are held due to poor content descriptions such as “samples,” “parts” and “promotional materials.” Others are held because the description states “see Commercial Invoice,” no description has been given at all, or proof of payment is insufficient. Incomplete, incorrect and inaccurate content descriptions or lack of a comprehensive proof of payment or supporting documents may result in clearance delays.

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An International Air Waybill is required for all international shipments entering Cayman Islands.

The Customs clearance process begins with the content description on the International Air Waybill. If the description is too vague or missing, Customs may hold the shipment for further inspection. It is important to be aware that, regardless of the information provided, Customs reserves the right to hold any shipment and request further information regarding the content.

Poor description

(too vague)

Good description

(specific and detailed)

Parts Two steel springs for woodworking machine
Gift One men’s knitted sweater (100% cotton) — unsolicited gift
Samples 200cm x 400cm nylon carpet sample for demonstration
Documents 30 pages of legal documents
Food The word Food (or FS) should be the first word in the description followed by a detailed description of the food items (e.g., Food — one can of sliced peaches).
See Commercial Invoice Provide a complete summary of all items. The description on the International Air Waybill should be as detailed as possible.

A complete description must answer the following questions.

  1. What is the content of the shipment?
  2. What is the date of the invoice? / Purchase date
  3. How many items are in the shipment? / Exact itemized quantity
  4. Which material(s) is/are the item(s) made of? / Composition i.e. cotton, metal, plastic, wood
  5. What is the intended use for this/these item(s)?

Important information about commercial invoices.

For commercial transactions, a supplier/sales invoice for goods accompanied with proof of payment is required. On the other hand, for non-commercial transactions, such as personal items, belongings, etc., an online commercial invoice may be used.


All additional Customs paperwork must be properly completed and include the following information:

  • Shipper and recipient information. Such as contact name, company name and complete address.
  • Country of manufacture. Country of original manufacture for each item in your shipment.
  • Total value of each item in your shipment. Packaging, freight, insurance and other costs.

In order for traders to appoint an agent to clear packages on their behalf, CBC requires that the trader register in the Customs Online System (“COLS”) and submit an Appointment of Agent via COLS at If you are transporting your shipments with FedEx, please select FedEx Express Cayman Limited to act on your behalf.

We have created a guide to help you with the process, see guide.

You will need to provide the following documents during the registration in COLS, based on the type of trader:

Individuals Companies / Organization
Copy of ID (i.e. driver’s license, passport, birth certificate) Copy of Trade and Business License and/or Registrar of Companies certificate

If you have any questions about COLS registration, please contact CBC directly