If you plan to visit Germany, or are making plans to move and live there permanently, then it is important to understand the need to comply with certain rules regarding importing goods into the country.
The rules vary depending on whether you’re entering the country at a border crossing or through a port of entry, and penalties can be heavy if you fail to follow the rules.
To help, we have put together everything that you need to declare when passing through customs in Germany, to ensure that you have the information that you need, and to reduce the risk of you being stopped or questioned, and your goods confiscated.
What Is Customs?
In simple terms, customs is what happens when people enter and leave countries.
When you arrive at an international airport, cross the border from one country to another, or pass through any other type of border control point, you will usually be required to fill out some paperwork and pay a fee known as a duty or import tax, depending on the items that you are bringing into the country.
This is so that the government knows how much money they should get back for allowing you to bring goods into their country.
It also helps them to keep track of who is bringing what items in and where they are coming from.
Customs work by classifying imported goods according to their value.
For example, most food products are classified as either A (for agricultural produce) or B (for non-agricultural produce).
You must declare all imports of these types of goods to customs officials.
Declaring Your Goods At Customs
You will not be able to take your goods straight through customs without declaring them.
There are two main ways that you can do this:
- By filling out a form called a ‘declaration’. This is done at the time of arrival at the border.
- By using a declaration label. This is attached to your goods before you travel and is used instead of a declaration form.
You may be asked questions about the contents of your bags and boxes, and you may be asked to open up your luggage and show customs officers what’s inside.
If you decide to use a declaration form, you’ll need to know the following details:
- What the item is
- Where it was made
- How much it cost
- Whether it has been modified since leaving its original factory
- Who owns it
The best way to prepare for customs is to make sure that you have all the necessary documentation ready to hand, including proof of ownership, invoices, receipts, certificates, etc.
What Do I Need To Declare At German Customs?
When you arrive at the German border, there are a number of items that you will be required to declare to customs.
In order to declare these, you will need to fill out a Form 6059B Customs Declaration – and this can now be completed before you travel for ease and convenience.
You will then need to print this, and take it with you to form part of your official, recognized Customs Declaration.
There are a number of items that will need to be declared to officers and staff when you reach German customs, and these include:
Any Items That Are Restricted
Certain items are restricted in Germany, such as drugs, firearms, tobacco, alcohol, pornography, certain animals, plants, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, poisons, radioactive materials, explosives, weapons, ammunition, and more.
If you are carrying any of these items, you will need to declare them to customs.
Items That Have Been Imported From Another Country
If you are importing anything from outside Germany, you will need to tell customs exactly what it is and where it came from.
The rules regarding this vary between different countries, but generally speaking, you will need to provide the following information:
- Country of origin
- Date of entry
- Name of importer
- Your name, address, and telephone number
- Other important things to note
It is very important to remember that if you fail to declare an import to customs, you could face fines or even imprisonment.
In addition to the items above, there are also a number of requirements surrounding cash and customs in Germany.
In short, any person entering Germany from a non-EU country, and you are carrying over 10,000 euros, you are required to immediately declare this to the German authorities – and this declaration must be “immediate and unsolicited”.
This means that you should not ask for permission to declare the money, nor should you wait until you reach customs because by doing so, you would risk being fined.
In addition, you must orally inform any inquiring official that you are carrying this amount if you find yourself subject to an inspection.
According to German law, “cash” can consist of:
- Currency – e.g. banknotes and coins
- Bearer negotiable instruments – e.g. promissory notes, traveler’s checks, shares, payment orders, and gold.
What Happens If I Fail To Declare Items At Customs?
If you do not declare any items to customs, you may be liable for penalties such as fines, and /or confiscation of goods.
It is therefore essential that you ensure that you declare everything to customs on arrival in Germany and that you are totally open and honest about all aspects of your trip.
You should also bear in mind that if you have been found to be in possession of illegal substances, you could be arrested and charged with drug trafficking.
How To Improve Your Experience At Customs
Heading through customs can be intimidating, particularly if you are not used to the experience, but there are steps you can take to improve your experience. This includes:
One of the most important things you can do to improve your experience at customs is to be prepared, and this involves knowing what you are allowed to bring into Germany.
You should also know how much you are permitted to carry with you, and whether you require special documentation to enter the country.
The best way to prepare for customs is to read up on the laws concerning customs in Germany and familiarize yourself with the procedures involved.
By doing so, you will be able to avoid making mistakes when you arrive at customers, and you will be less likely to get caught out.
Be Honest And Open
As mentioned above, you should always be honest and open when dealing with customs officials.
This includes telling them exactly what you are bringing into the country, and why you are bringing it.
It is also important to remain calm and polite throughout the process and to answer questions honestly.
Do Not Try To Hide Anything
It is extremely dangerous to try to hide anything from customs officials, as they can search you without warning.
As such, you should never attempt to conceal anything from them, including large amounts of currency – this will instantly make you look suspicious.
Clearing customs in Germany can be a little overwhelming, but as long as you are prepared, and follow the rules, you should have no problems.
The key thing to remember is that you should be completely honest and open with customs officials and that you should not try to hide anything from them.