Customs regulations for your trip to Germany

Last modified: July 26, 2023
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Customs regulations

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required :

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of visa
  • Bill of lading (BL) / air waybill (AWB)
  • Packing list in German or English
  • Customs declaration / signed letter by owner of the goods
  • Customs registration form 0350
  • Letter of employment or botschaftsbescheinigung (returning citizens)
  • Anmeldebestaetigung (registration)
  • Diplomatic entry form 0349 (diplomats)
  • Certificate from the diplomatic organization in Germany (diplomats)

Specific Information

  • Effective processing of the Customs declaration can only commence once the goods are in the European Union and have been presented at the Customs office.
  • Products imported into the European Customs Union are subject to duties only when and where the product first enters the European Union (e.g., Germany).
  • The Customs declaration should be provided by the local agent in Germany.

A letter signed by the owner of the goods certifying that the following taxable high value goods have not been included in the shipment:

  • Firearms
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Cigarettes
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Customs registration form 0350 stating goods will not be sold for 12 months.
  • Letter of employment must state the term of employment will be for a minimum of 12 months and that the owner of the goods lived abroad for at least 12 months (must be issued by the employer of the client)
  • Anmeldebestaetigung can be obtained from the appropriate German town hall confirming registration of new residency in Germany (not older than 3 months).
  • Effective 1st November, 2015, the owner of the goods is required to obtain a confirmation letter, called “Wohngeberbescheinigung” from their future landlord in order to get a registration, “Anmeldebestaetigung”.
  • The confirmation letter, “Wohngeberbescheinigung” must confirm that the owner of the goods will live at the address mentioned.

Shipment must arrive in Germany within 12 months after registration in Germany.

Botschaftsbescheinigung from the German Embassy or Consulate at origin.

This document serves to confirm the period of time abroad (returning citizens).

  • Proof of registration may not be older than 3 months.

All goods for duty-free importation, such as household goods and personal effects must have been in the owner of the goods’ possession for at least 6 months in the origin country.

Duty-free entry for foreign diplomats is permitted if a bilateral agreement exists with the origin country.

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You don’t have to carry your passport with you while in Germany, but if you’re asked to show your passport and you don’t have it with you, the police may escort you to wherever your passport is being kept so that you can show it to them.

It is illegal to cross German pedestrian crossings when the red pedestrian light is on. Offenders risk a fine and payment of all costs in the event of an accident.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons.

Click here to view : Loca laws and customs

The following provides information on major regulatory efforts of the EC Taxation and Customs Union Directorate:

The Union Customs Code (UCC) was adopted in 2013 and its substantive provisions apply from May 1, 2016. It replaced the Community Customs Code (CCC).  In addition to the UCC, the European Commission has published delegated and implementing regulations on the actual procedural changes. These are included in the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/341 and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447.

There are a number of changes in the revised customs policy which also require an integrated IT system from the customs authorities. In April 2016, the European Commission published an implementing decision (number: 2016/578) on the work program relating to the development and deployment of the electronic systems of the UCC. In March 2018, the EC published a proposal (EU) No 2018/0040 for a draft regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 to prolong the transitional use of means other than the electronic data-processing techniques provided for in the Union Customs Code.  The EC continues to evaluate the timeline by which the EU-wide integration of the customs IT system can be implemented. The current deadline of December 2020 may be extended until 2025 (Proposed Regulation)

Key Link: Homepage of Customs and Taxation Union Directorate (TAXUD) Website

Customs Valuation – Most customs duties and value added tax (VAT) are expressed as a percentage of the value of goods being declared for importation.  Thus, it is necessary to dispose of a standard set of rules for establishing the goods’ value, which will then serve for calculating the customs duty.

Given the magnitude of EU imports every year, it is important that the value of such commerce is accurately measured for the purposes of:

  • economic and commercial policy analysis;
  • application of commercial policy measures;
  • proper collection of import duties and taxes; and
  • import and export statistics.

These objectives are met using a single instrument – the rules on customs value.

The EU applies an internationally accepted concept of ‘customs value’.

The value of imported goods is one of three ‘elements of taxation’ that provides the basis for assessment of the customs debt, which is the technical term for the amount of duty that has to be paid, the other ones being the origin of the goods and the customs tariff.

The Single Administrative Document

The official model for written declarations to customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The SAD describes goods and their movement around the world and is essential for trade outside the EU, or for non-EU goods. Goods brought into the EU customs territory are, from the time of their entry, subject to customs supervision until customs formalities are completed.  Goods are covered by a Summary Declaration, which is filed once the items have been presented to customs officials. The customs authorities may, however, allow a period for filing the Declaration that cannot be extended beyond the first working day following the day on which the goods are presented to customs.

The Summary Declaration is filed by:

  • the person who brought the goods into the customs territory of the Community or by any person who assumes responsibility for carriage of the goods following such entry; or
  • the person in whose name the person referred to above acted.

The Summary Declaration can be made electronically or on a form provided by the customs authorities.  However, customs authorities may also allow the use of any commercial or official document that contains the specific information required to identify the goods.  The SAD serves as the EU importer’s declaration.  It encompasses both customs duties and VAT and is valid in all EU Member States.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein), Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, and Serbia also use the SAD. Information on import/export forms is contained in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No. 2015/2446.

Single Administration Document

EU Customs Code

The Union Customs Code (UCC) was adopted in 2013 and its substantive provisions went into effect on May 1, 2016. It has replaced the Community Customs Code (CCC). In addition to the UCC, the European Commission published delegated and implementing regulations on the actual procedural changes.

Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI)

Since July 1, 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an EORI number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration.  All U.S. companies should use this number for their customs clearances. An EORI number must be formally requested from the customs authorities of the specific member state to which the company first exports. Member state customs authorities may request additional documents to be submitted alongside a formal request for an EORI number. Once a company has received an EORI number, it can use it for exports to any of the 28 EU Member States. There is no single format for the EORI number.  Once an operator holds an EORI number s/he can request the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO: see below under “MRA”) status, which can give quicker access to certain simplified customs procedures.

More information about the EORI number can be found at Economic Operator Identification and Registration

U.S. – EU Customs Cooperation

Since 1997, the United States and the EU have had a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) on customs cooperation for matters relating to the application of customs laws. For additional information, please see Agreements with the United States.

In 2012 the United States and the EU signed a Decision recognizing the compatibility of AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) and C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism), thereby facilitating faster and more secure trade between U.S. and EU operators. The World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards provides the global standard for AEO.  AEO certification is issued by a national customs authority and is recognized by all Member States’ customs agencies.  As of April 17, 2017, an AEO can consist of two different types of authorization: “customs simplification” or “security and safety.”  The former allows for an AEO to benefit from simplification related to customs legislation, while the latter allows for facilitation through security and safety procedures. Shipping to a trader with AEO status could facilitate an exporter’s trade as its benefits include expedited processing of shipments, reduced theft/losses, reduced data requirements, lower inspection costs, and enhanced loyalty and recognition. Under the revised Union Customs Code, in order for an operator to make use of certain customs simplifications, the authorization of AEO becomes mandatory.

The United States and the EU recognize each other’s security certified operators and will take the respective membership status of certified trusted traders favorably into account to the extent possible.  The favorable treatment provided by the Decision will result in lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability for transatlantic business activities. It officially recognizes the compatibility of AEO and C-TPAT programs, thereby facilitating faster and more secure trade between U.S. and EU operators. The Decision was originally signed in May 2012 and was implemented in two phases. The first commenced in July 2012 with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) placing shipments coming from EU AEO members into a lower risk category. The second phase took place in early 2013, with the EU re-classifying shipments coming from C-TPAT members into a lower risk category.  CBP identification numbers for foreign manufacturers (MID) are therefore recognized by customs authorities in the EU, as per Commission Delegated Regulation 2015/2446 (see above).

Additional Information on the Decision

l documents to be submitted alongside a formal request for an EORI number. Once a company has received an EORI number, it can use it for exports to any of the 28 EU Member States.  There is no single format for the EORI number.  Once an operator holds an EORI number s/he can request the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO: see below under “MRA”) status, which can give quicker access to certain simplified customs procedures.

More information about the EORI number can be found at Economic Operator Identification and Registration

Dutiable Items

Import regulations:

Free import to passengers arriving with goods purchased within the EU which are for personal use only:

  1. tobacco products:
  • 800 cigarettes;
  • 400 cigarillos (max. 3 grams each);
  • 200 cigars;
  • 1 kilogram smoking tobacco;
  1. alcoholic beverages:
  • 10 liters of spirits over 22%;
  • 20 liters of alcoholic beverages less than 22%;
  • 90 liters of wine (though no more than 60 liters of sparkling wine);
  • 110 liters of beer.

Free import to passengers arriving from non-EU Member States (incl. Canary Islands, Channel Islands and other similar territories):

  1. tobacco products, for passengers aged 17 and older:
  • 200 cigarettes; or
  • 100 cigarillos (max. 3 grams each); or
  • 50 cigars; or
  • 250 grams of smoking tobacco; or
  • a proportional mix of these products;
  1. alcoholic beverages, for passengers aged 17 and older:
  • 1 liter of spirits over 22% volume, or non-denatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80% volume; or
  • 2 liters of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages less than 22% volume, or sparkling wines or liquor wines; or
  • a proportional mix of these products; and in addition
  • 4 liters still wine; and
  • 16 liters of beer;
  1. food, fruits, medications and flowers for personal use;
  2. other goods (for air travelers) up to a total value of EUR 430.- (per adult) or EUR 175.- (per passenger aged under 15 years).

Products of animal origin, not originating from an EU Member State, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland, are not permitted to be imported into an EU Member State, with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, Faroe Isl., Greenland, Iceland and small amounts of specific products from other countries.

  • Weapons (applicable license is required)
  • Live plants (special import license is required)
  • Tobacco and cigarettes (subject to duties and taxes)
  • Alcohol does not qualify as household effets and is always subject to duties and taxes. The shipper is required to sign a customs declaration to confirm that the shipment does not contain alcoholic beverages.
    • Customs clearance of alcohol is an additional customs clearance and not included in standard destination rates
    • Alcohol is subject to duties as per a EU customs code which is complicated. Alcohol is also subject to taxes based on
      • duties as per tariff
      • taxes of 19% based on duties plus proportionate costs of transport (door-to-door)
      • Meat and milk and any items thereof from non-EU countries with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, Croatia, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and small amounts of specific products from other countries
        • Protected species and products thereof as listed by the CITES (Washington Convention) for example ivory, tortoise shell, coral, reptile skin, wood from Amazonian forests.

Click here to view : Customs

When products enter the EU, they need to be declared to customs according to their classification in the Combined Nomenclature (CN). The CN document is updated and published every year, and the latest version can be found on the European Commission’s website.

U.S. exporters should consult “The Integrated Tariff of the Community”, referred to as TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté), to identify the various rules that apply to specific products being imported into the customs territory of the EU. To determine if a license is required for a particular product, check the TARIC.

The TARIC can be searched by country of origin, Harmonized System (HS) Code, and product description on the interactive website of the Directorate-General for Taxation and the Customs Union. The online TARIC is updated daily.

Prohibited Items

  • Drugs and narcotics
  • Explosives
  • Ammunition
  • Dried plants
  • Pornographic materials
  • Certain types of meat
  • Radioactive materials
  • Any protected animal or species (ivory, snakeskin, leopard fur, etc.)
  • Items of historical significance (pre-Columbian items, etc.)
  • pets need to be identifiable (tattoo or an electronic identification system), vaccinated against rabies and have a health certificate. For more information please refer to the nearest embassy.
  • maximum of 10 kg of meat, milk and dairy products coming from Croatia, Færøer Islands, Greenland and Iceland
  • powdered milk for babies, food for children and special medical food (including pets food) may be allowed if they need not to be refrigerated prior opening and that it is brand packaged food and the packaging has original seal (unless in use at the time) and its quantity must not exceed the weight of 10 kg originating from Croatia, Færøer Islands, Greenland and Iceland, and of 2 kg if originating in other countries.
  • fish only if it is disembowelled and does not exceed the weight of 20 kg,
  • currency – no restrictions if coming from EU country. Declarable for all travelling outside EU when the amount exceeds 10.000 euro or equivalent in another currency.
  • coats, fur, and leather shoes made of protected animals will need special authorization

Miscellaneous (Pets, Motors, and others.)

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Visitors transiting Germany without clearing the immigration and not leaving the airport transit area, do not need to hold a permit.

Visitors entering Germany need a permit issued by the competent weapons authority. For more information see www.zoll.de

For active military:

  1. if traveling on duty and carrying registered military arms only, no permit is required;
  2. if traveling on duty and importing registered firearms that belong to the traveler, a firearm registration card is required;
  3. US military and US Department of Defense civilian personnel must hold a firearm registration card or a US military form AE 2075 or AE 550-17A.

Prohibited: It is not allowed to import arms and ammunition from Russian Fed. and Syria. For more information see https://sanctionsmap.eu/#/main/

Wild Fauna and Flora:

The import of certain plants is prohibited into Germany (i.e. potatoes, vines, wineleaves etc.).

Additional Information on regulations:

Prohibited: import of fresh meat and meat products from: CIS countries , Portugal, Sardinia, Spain, Turkey and all countries of Africa and Asia. From other countries: allowed up to 1 kg; game and poultry up to 30 kg.

Crew members customs regulations:

Free import, once a day, of:

  1. 40 cigarettes or 20 cigarillos or 10 cigars or 50 grammes of tobacco or a proportionate combination of these goods;
  2. other goods up to a value of EUR 90.- of which the value of staple foodstuffs may not exceed EUR 30.-.

There is no duty-free allowance for alcohol and alcoholic beverages.

Pets:

Cats and dogs are subject to Regulation (EC) No. 998/2003 and Regulation (EU) 576/2013 . For more information contact the nearest embassy of Germany. A maximum number of 5 animals may be imported without prior authorization (exception: artists needing dogs/cats for the purpose of their profession may import more than 5 dogs/cats without prior authorization). Pets may enter as passenger’s checked baggage, in the cabin or as cargo.

Pets can be imported only through airports with veterinary border inspection points: Berlin (BER), Cologne (CGN), Frankfurt (FRA), Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN), Hamburg (HAM), Hanover (HAJ), Leipzig Halle (LEJ) and Munich (MUC).

Although the airport of Dusseldorf (DUS) has no veterinary border inspection point, pets can enter via DUS for private entries only.

Pets can not be transported in hold with Lufthansa via Munich (MUC).

Prohibited: the import of American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier breeds and cross breeds into Germany is prohibited. Other breeds may be prohibited at a Federal State level or may need authorization before travel.

For further details please refer to German Customs Administration: www.zoll.de/EN/Private-individuals/Travel/travel_node.html

Birds are subject to Decision (EC) No. 25/2007. The health certificate should have a German translation.

Prohibited: the import of pet birds & poultry and derived products from Cambodia, China (People’s Rep.), Hong Kong (SAR China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Lao People’s Dem. Rep., Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination in Germany.

Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with destination outside Germany.

Currency

Currency Import regulations:

Same regulations as per Export apply.

Currency Export regulations:

Local currency (Euro-EUR) and foreign currencies: no restrictions if arriving from or traveling to another EU Member State .

If arriving directly from or traveling to a country outside the EU: amounts exceeding EUR 10,000.- or more or the equivalent in another currency (incl. banker’s draft and cheques of any kind) must be declared.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Proof of ownership
  • Car documents
  • Original bill of lading
  • Anmeldebestatigung
  • Insurance card from country of origin
  • Third-party liability insurance initiated at Customs clearance
  • Registration and copy of title from origin country

The registration must show a minimum use of the last 6 months prior to shipping / prior to the first registration of the client in Germany

Specific Information

Owner of the goods’ town hall registration in Germany (Anmeldebestatigung).

Cars and motorcycles must be in the owner of the goods’ possession and must have been used for at least 6 months (as evidenced by a proper registration) at origin prior to shipment; adequate confirmation will be given by simple declaration as part of the Customs declaration.

Approval for possession and use requires title and registration documents showing customers name and identified vehicle for import.

Cars must be inspected before licensing, and must comply with German technical and environmental regulations and may require modifications.

Customs clearance requires knowledge of all technical details of the car.

Tax and duties must be paid in advance to the Customs office.

Click here to view : Airport tax regulations

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