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Customs supervision For entries from non-EU countries

If you enter or return to Germany from a country outside the European Union (EU), you can import goods (travel souvenirs) up to a certain value of goods duty-free and without customs formalities. Certain excise goods (e.g. coffee, alcohol, tobacco or motor fuels) are subject to quantitative limits and other goods are subject to value limits. The quantity of goods that does not exceed these limits is called a travel allowance.

The general conditions for duty-free import (travel allowance) are:

  • They carry the goods in question.
  • The goods are intended for personal use or consumption.
  • The goods are not intended for commercial purposes.
  • The goods do not violate prohibitions and restrictions.
  • Tobacco products, as well as alcohol and alcoholic beverages, may not be imported by travellers under the age of 17.

The quantitative and value limits for duty-free imports shall be:

  • for tobacco products

    • 200 cigarettes or
    • 100 cigarillos or
    • 50 cigars or
    • 250 grams of smoking tobacco or
    • a pro rata compilation of these goods.
  • for alcohol and alcoholic beverages

    • 1 litre of alcohol and alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content exceeding 22 % by volume or undenatured ethyl alcohol with an alcohol content of 80 % or more by volume, or
    • 2 litres of alcohol and alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content not exceeding 22 % by volume, or
    • a proportionate combination of these goods, and
    • 4 litres of non-foaming wines and
    • 16 litres of beer
  • for medicinal products

    • the quantity corresponding to the personal needs of the traveller
  • for fuels

    • for each motor vehicle, the quantity in the main container and up to 10 litres in a portable container
  • other goods

    • up to a total value of GOODS of EUR 300.00,
    • for air or sea travellers up to a total value of EUR 430.00,
    • for travellers under the age of 15 up to a total value of EUR 175.00.

Exceeding the travel allowances

If the goods you carry exceed the travel allowances, you must register these goods with the customs office responsible for crossing the border at the airport or seaport or when crossing the border and pay appropriate import duties (customs duties, import sales tax and possibly excise duties). You must also be able to credibly demonstrate that you are using the goods you have brought with you for private purposes.

You can only use the travel allowances once during a trip. A trip is only finished with the return to the domestic place of residence or the arrival at the holiday destination in Germany. This means that you cannot take advantage of the travel allowance several times if you cross the border several times in quick succession.

If you are not sure whether the goods you have imported exceed the travel allowances, please contact customs directly. If your goods exceed the travel allowances mentioned, you will have to pay import duties.

Territories with special customs arrangements

The following territories belong to the national territory, but not to the customs and tax territory of the EU. Here, too, the regulations apply to entries from non-EU member states. Goods from these territories are therefore only duty-free if they do not exceed the travel allowances for goods from non-EU countries. If the exemption limits are exceeded, customs duties, import turnover tax and possibly excise duties are levied:

  • Helgoland and Büsingen,
  • Faroe Islands and Greenland,
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Saint-Barthélemy
  • Livigno
  • Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten,
  • Ceuta and Melilla,
  • Gibraltar and
  • the northern (Turkish) part of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control.

Territories with special tax regulations

The following territories belong to the customs territory, but not to the tax territory of the EU. The rules for entries from non-EU Member States apply. If the exemption limits are exceeded, import VAT and possibly excise duties are levied:

  • Canary Islands (excise duty and import turnover tax),
  • British Channel Islands (excise duty and import turnover tax),
  • overseas departments of France (Martinique, Mayotte Guadeloupe, Réunion and French Guiana) (excise duty and import turnover tax),
  • Åland Islands (excise duty and import turnover tax)
  • Mount Athos in Greece (import TURNOVER tax) and
  • Campione d ́Italia (Italy) and the Italian part of Lake Lugano between Ponte Tresa and Porto Ceresoi (import VAT).

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)

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