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Can I carry 2 iphones to India?

The short answer is – it‘s possible but not recommended to carry 2 new iPhones from USA to India. Carrying a single new sealed iPhone box is usually permitted under the personal duty free allowance of ₹50,000. But 2 or more new boxes can attract customs duty of around 30% of iPhone value, along with questions on why you need so many devices. Read on for a detailed guide on legally bringing 1 or 2 iPhones to India from USA.

As a frequent US-India traveler and iPhone enthusiast, I‘ve learned the nuances of carrying gadgets across borders the hard way over years of personal experience! This guide captures everything I‘ve learned and can help you avoid painful lessons at Indian customs.

What is the Duty Free Allowance for India?

Indian customs provides an allowance of ₹50,000 (about $700) for residents returning from abroad. This means you can bring goods worth up to ₹50,000 into India without paying any import duty or customs taxes. The allowance is per person – so a family of 4 gets a total duty free quota of ₹2,00,000.

This duty free allowance is applicable for both Indian residents and foreigners. However, foreigners must carry the items back with them during departure to really avail the benefit.

Customs Duty Impact on iPhone Prices

With the latest iPhone 14 series, here is an estimate of how the customs duty impacts effective cost of buying an iPhone in USA vs India:

iPhone Model USA Price India Price Customs Duty @30% Total Cost (USA+Duty)
iPhone 14 128GB $799 ₹79,900 ₹23,970 ₹88,683
iPhone 14 Pro 128GB $999 ₹1,29,900 ₹38,970 ₹1,21,813

As you can see, even after paying customs duty, buying and bringing the latest iPhones from USA can save ₹8,000 to ₹20,000 compared to India prices. The savings are thanks to:

  • Better dollar conversion rates in USA
  • Lower launch prices in USA (no 5G premium)
  • Supply constraints in India driving up prices

So if you can plan properly and have someone bring it from USA, there are decent savings to be unlocked!

Carrying 1 vs 2 iPhones – What‘s Recommended?

Based on my experience, here is a comparison of carrying 1 vs 2 new iPhones from USA to India:

Consideration Carrying 1 New iPhone Carrying 2 New iPhones
Customs Duty Usually exempted under ₹50k allowance You may need to pay ~30% duty on 2nd device
Questions from Customs Minimal High chances of being questioned
Recommended? Yes No

As you can see, sticking to 1 new sealed iPhone box attracts minimal attention and smoothly passes under the duty free allowance in most cases.

But carrying 2 or more new iPhones raises suspicions of commercial intent rather than personal use. You will likely be asked to show receipts and pay import taxes on the additional device.

My recommendation – avoid the hassle and just carry 1 new iPhone box at a time from USA to India. Paying extra duty negates the savings you‘d get anyways.

Used and Open Box iPhones – Ideal for Bringing 2 Devices

If you must bring 2 devices, I‘d strongly recommend getting used/open box iPhones instead of 2 brand new sealed pieces.

Indian customs tend to be more lenient with used electronics items. It shows the devices are meant for personal use rather than commercial resale.

I‘ve carried up to 2 used/refurbished iPhones bought from sites like Backmarket or Decluttr without any import duties. Just make sure to keep the invoices in case asked by customs.

You can save huge by buying used/refurbished iPhone models that are 1-2 years old. And it leaves more room in your ₹50k duty free quota for other gadgets!

Buying an iPhone in USA vs India – Which is Cheaper?

iPhones launch at lower prices in USA compared to India. For example:

  • iPhone 14 launched at $799 in USA vs ₹79,900 in India

Apart from better dollar conversion rates, two key factors contribute to lower USA pricing:

1. No 5G Premium – Apple did not increase iPhone 14 pricing in USA for the new 5G modem. But in India, they took a 20% premium citing high 5G spectrum costs.

2. Supply Constraints – Limited availability in India pushes prices higher. iPhones are abundantly available in US retail stores.

After factoring customs duty, buying and bringing an iPhone from the US still works out cheaper by ₹8,000 to ₹20,000 compared to India MRP.

If you plan in advance and buy during deals like Thanksgiving sales, the savings can be even higher. I was able to save a massive $300 on my iPhone 13 during last year‘s Black Friday sale on BestBuy.

So if you have friends or family traveling from USA, it‘s definitely worth asking them to get an iPhone for you! Just make sure they carry only 1 sealed piece in their hand luggage.

Documents Needed for Carrying iPhones from USA

Based on my experience, these are the key documents needed to minimize customs hassles when carrying an iPhone from USA to India:

  • Original invoice – Proof of purchase price in USA. Helps assess duty if applicable.
  • Payment receipt – Shows you paid for the iPhone abroad.
  • Usages history – If possible, insert local US sim for a day to show activation.
  • Boxes and accessories – Avoid just carrying the iPhone alone. Include at least the charger.
  • Friend‘s letter – Declaration from your friend stating iPhone is for personal use as a gift.

As long as you have these documents handy, clearing Indian customs with your new iPhone should be a breeze!

How to Save on Customs Duty Legally

If you do end up having to pay customs duty, here are some tips to minimize the amount legally:

  • Check eligibility for duty waivers – Some states allow duty free import if device value is under ₹1 lakh.
  • Provide student or senior citizen ID – These categories are eligible for concessions in certain cases.
  • Don‘t hide anything – Being transparent with officials reduces chances of penalties.
  • Know applicable rates – Correctly calculate exact duty amount applicable for iPhone.
  • Apply 10% currency conversion buffer – Customs calculates duty based on current forex rates.
  • Split items in baggage – Distribute across bags to avoid breaching ₹50k limit in one bag.

The key is being cooperative, not concealing anything, and having all your documents handy. Even if you need to pay duty, the above tips will ensure minimal outlay.

Activating Your US iPhone in India

The latest iPhone 14 series supports eSIM activation. So once you get back to India, you can simply transfer your Indian eSIM to the US-bought iPhone.

For physical SIM, you may need to get it unlocked by US carrier if locked. Unlocked iPhones work seamlessly with any Indian operator SIM.

If possible, get it activated with US sim temporarily before travel. This proves it‘s activated and avoids unlocking hassles.

Buying and Shipping from USA to India

Given the customs duty and hand-carry restrictions, another option worth considering is to buy your iPhone in USA but ship it to India separately.

Many people get worried about shipping delays or damage/theft. But from personal experience, I‘ve found shipping iPhones from USA to India quite safe and reliable through services like DHL, FedEx, etc.

You still pay the customs duties, but at least avoid the hassle of carrying 2 iPhone boxes. Do ensure you get shipment insurance just in case.

Hand carry only 1 phone yourself. And ship the others separately – it works out much smoother!

Key Takeaways on Carrying iPhones from USA to India

Here are some key tips to summarize bringing iPhones from USA based on my extensive personal experience of gadget travels:

  • Carry only 1 new sealed iPhone for minimal customs questions
  • Prefer open box/used iPhones to avoid import duties
  • Must have invoices/receipts in case asked by customs
  • Be cooperative and transparent with customs officers
  • Consider shipping extra iPhones separately to avoid 2 boxes

I hope these tips help you avoid some painful lessons I learned the hard way! Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy iPhone travels!