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Old July 30th, 2011, 08:33 PM   #1
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I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

I'm traveling to Israel this week with my gear to do some filming. Any tips about flying internationally with equipment, either in terms of packing or transporting it through customs?
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Old July 30th, 2011, 08:58 PM   #2
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

Hi Noam, good for you! I have traveled with video and still gear and not had any problems. I carried my still cam in a pelican case that fit in the over head. I also carried my video cam in a petrol case that has firm sides and stowed it over head as well. My tripod, light stands, dolly, and other durable items I checked. The struggles were batteries, like AA batteries, they didnt want them on the plane. I packed the checked items well. I put the stands and tripod in pvc pipe, and wrapped in cardboard and duct tape. Several times they made me cut the wrapping apart to show them what was in there. I wouldnt put the cameras in checked baggage because they dont treat those bags very well. Hope this helps, have fun!
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Old July 30th, 2011, 09:13 PM   #3
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

Back when I was flying often for the day job I was told then to check what I could afford to lose and carry on what I couldn't.
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Old July 30th, 2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

You might want to make up a list of everything you're traveling with, checked and carry on with a full description, serial numbers and perhaps even make a copy of the invoice from the purchase as a "just in case."
Never check your camera(s) better to pack what you can in your checked baggage. I've flown with AA batteries before and not had any problems BUT those you can buy pretty much anywhere so you might think about not carrying them. Any camera batteries you do not want to pack into checked bags. Carry them with the camera and be ready to take everything out of the bag, show and tell them what it is and turn it on to prove it to them.
Stay away from phrases like "I'm going to shot a job" or "this is my shotgun mic". All the TSA hears is "shotgun" and Shoot".
when traveling with gear today a little common sense goes a long way and don't get frustrated- they might push you right thru or they might give the the ultimate "pat down" Leave plenty of time just in case you get the ultimate, keep a smile on your face and be polite. I don't like them either but even I found that this works better when hauling gear around than trying to reason with them when they're having a bad day.
Of course a lot depend on the airport you fly out of.
Good luck!
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Old July 30th, 2011, 10:48 PM   #5
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

Noam, since you've posted in this section you're recording a wedding in Israel. Before I started doing weddings almost exclusively I worked overseas on many occasions and my overall view is that it's getting more and more difficult to transport gear.

During the mid-90's I worked extensively in the former Soviet Union when that meant two of us hauling a BVW507, monitor, SQN sound mixer, tripod and a flight case containing eight huge batteries and a charger. We checked everything except the monitor and the camera which were uncased for the journey and either cuddled or racked.

The present travelling climate probably makes this impossible and we rent cameras and gear everywhere we go. In the past not only was gear less robust and difficult to rent. Nowadays we rent often even in the UK - and being able to load our preferred settings into cameras like EX1Rs within a few seconds is a great help.

If you've invested substantially in your own gear I can understand you'd want to use your investment; for my money I'd leave the gear on the shelf and rent locally. Providing you're properly accounting for your investment in gear in your pricing it cost shouldn't be a consideration.
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Old July 31st, 2011, 12:13 PM   #6
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

I'll be traveling to Kenya from the US for a documentary next year. Renting will not be an option. It's not a wedding or event either, but since the thread is open I'd like to hear suggestions as well.
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Old July 31st, 2011, 12:38 PM   #7
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

Don is absolutely right. Make a list or scan all your purchase invoices of all your equipment. Without the list, a problem could occur when you re-enter the U.S. Customs may take a look at your equipment, say you purchased it overseas, then have you pay duty and taxes for the total value of your inventory. Whatever happens, do not argue with a customs agent. And NEVER lie!
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Old July 31st, 2011, 06:51 PM   #8
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

This is a common question frequently asked in this DVinfo group:
Home, Away From Home Forum at DVinfo.net

A country that has agreed to participate in the Carnet system can charge you duties on the equipment you bring in to it. Having a receipt does nothing. The duties are on the assumption you are leaving it in country and are therefore bypassing normal customs duties of a merchant. As was pointed out, the same is true when returning to the US and a receipt might help. However, US customs allows you to carry a form 4457 that protects you when returning to the US. You have to take the form and the equipment to a Customs office ahead of time where they compare the serial numbers with what's on the form and then stamp it.

The Carnet system was setup to handle this situation for countries that participate. It does however require you to visit the customs office going in and out of each country. There's lots of information on this if you search for it.

Last edited by Les Wilson; July 31st, 2011 at 06:53 PM. Reason: typos
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Old August 1st, 2011, 01:27 AM   #9
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Re: I'm traveling overseas this week for a shoot. Any tips on flying with equipment?

Les is correct to draw attention to the carnet system though having used it often during one part of my business career I know from experience it has drawbacks.

1 Zealous customs officials delight in examining every item in details - the delays can be annoying. East Midlands Airport in the UK used to be (maybe still is) a training base for customs officials. Leaving from there many years ago my colleague and I had to open every single roll of film to prove to the customs officer training others how to do the job. Warren it right - don't argue with them.

2 The duties payable are, in the UK at least, covered by a guarantee from a participating organisation, often a Chamber of Commerce. This doesn't cease with the return to base of the gear. The details are a little hazy now, but I recall at the time that the "charge" distorted our company accounts for some years which can be tiresome and even disadvantageous if you're thinking of selling/merging the business.

3 Some countries, nominally participants in the carnet system honour it in the breach more than reality. A crew and equipment we sent to India for a large corporate event was stuck in customs for days. Had the client not been Diners Club I wonder if they'd have arrived home yet!

Whilst it can be helpful, the occasional drawbacks of the carnet system make it another argument in favour of renting locally if possible. I doubt if the cost would make it attractive to someone in Corey's situation.
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