If you are entering or returning to Germany from a country outside the European Union (EU), you can import goods (travel items) up to a certain value duty-free and without customs formalities. Quantity limits apply to certain goods subject to excise duty (e.g. coffee, alcohol, tobacco products or fuels) and value limits apply to other goods. The quantity of goods that does not exceed these limits is called the duty-free allowance.
The general conditions for duty-free import (traveller's allowance) are:
- You are carrying the goods in question.
- The goods are for personal use or consumption.
- The goods are not intended for commercial purposes.
- The goods do not violate any prohibitions or restrictions.
- Tobacco products and alcohol and alcoholic beverages may not be imported by travellers under the age of 17.
The quantity and value limits for duty-free importation are as follows
Exceeding the travel allowance
If the goods you are carrying exceed the travel allowances, you must declare these goods at the customs office responsible for the border crossing at the airport or seaport or when crossing the border and pay the corresponding import duties (customs duties, import VAT and possibly excise duties). You must also be able to credibly demonstrate that you are using the goods you are bringing with you for private purposes.
You can only claim the travel allowance once during a trip. A trip does not end until you return to your domestic place of residence or arrive at your vacation destination in Germany. This means that you cannot claim the travellers' allowance more than once if you cross the border several times in immediate succession.
If you are not sure whether the goods you are importing exceed the travel allowance, please contact customs directly. If your goods exceed the stated duty-free allowances, you will have to pay import duties.
Territories with special customs regulations
The following territories are part of the national territory but not part of the customs and tax territory of the EU. Here, too, the regulations for entries from non-EU member states apply. Goods from these territories are therefore only duty-free if they do not exceed the duty-free allowances for goods from non-EU states. If the duty-free allowances are exceeded, customs duties, import turnover tax and possibly excise duties are levied:
- Heligoland and Büsingen,
- Faroe Islands and Greenland,
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Saint-Barthélemy
- 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 arrangements
The following territories are part of the customs territory but not of the tax territory of the EU. The rules for entries from non-EU Member States apply. Import turnover tax and possibly excise duties are levied if the exemption limits are exceeded:
- Canary Islands (excise duty and import VAT),
- British Channel Islands (excise duty and import VAT),
- French overseas departments (Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, Réunion and French Guiana) (excise duty and import VAT),
- Åland Islands (excise duty and import VAT)
- Mount Athos in Greece (import VAT) and
- Campione d'Italia (Italy) and the part of Lake Lugano between Ponte Tresa and Porto Ceresoi belonging to Italy (import VAT).