Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - The Korea Customs Service will strengthen its surveillance of inbound travelers in terms of customs clearance until the end of next month.
In a statement, the customs agency said it will strictly apply the customs clearance rule as the number of overseas travelers is expected to surge during the summer holiday season between late July and August.
"Despite the new tax exemption, travelers are still required to report their overseas purchases in excess of $400 for other domestic taxes, such as 10 percent of value-added tax, warning against excessive shopping abroad," the KCS advised.
He said those with agricultural and marine products, guns, knives and spy equipment or items that pose a national security risk should also submit a declaration to the authorities.
The declaration will also include commonly used medicines, such as anti-impotence drug Viagra, and establish clear punishment for secretly carrying such medicines.
According to customs authorities data, the number of travelers purchasing luxury goods in Europe rapidly increased after the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement took effect in July 2011.
Under the free trade pact, Korean travelers can enjoy an 8-15 percent tax exemption if they verify the EU origin of purchased products worth less than US$1,000.
Among luxury brand goods, the purchase of watches soared the most with a growth rate of more than 100 percent, followed by purses, clothes, sunglasses and leather bags.
Wines, however, showed no change as local importers have already lowered domestic prices following the free trade pact, the agency said.
"When it comes to leather bags and watches, even though the duty had been abolished after the Korea-EU FTA took effect, their prices are still cheaper in Europe," a KCS official said.
He said it appears the growing trend will continue for some time, despite variables such as foreign exchange rates and the economic outlook for the coming months.