You may bring back items from your trips without paying any customs duties as long as they are for personal use or consumption or intended as gifts. There are limits on the permitted quantities and values (e.g., alcohol concentrations). There are other rules as well, which experienced travelers should also keep in mind.
Alcohol und Alcoholic Beverages, provided that you are at least 17 years old:
- 1 liter of strong drink (spirits) containing more than 22% of alcohol by volume (44 proof), or 1 liter of undenatured ethyl alcohol containing 80% or more of alcohol by volume
- or 2 liters of alcohol or alcoholic beverages containing up to 22% of alcohol by volume
- or a combination of these items plus 4 liters of nonsparkling wine and 16 liters of beer.
- The quantities of medications required to meet your personal needs.
- 200 cigarettes
- or 100 cigarillos
- or 50 cigars
- or 250 grams of loose tobacco
- or a combination of these goods.
- Up to a total value of 430 euros
- Travelers under the age of 15 may only import goods worth a total of 175 euros.
What You Should Also Know:
All of these rules apply only when there are no other prohibitions or restrictions on taking goods across national borders.
When Value Limits Are Exceeded:
If, for example, you want to import a piece of jewelry or a dress — these are examples of "indivisible" goods — and its value exceeds the stipulated allowance, then an import duty is charged on the entire value of the object.
Goods Imported for Commercial Purposes:
If you import goods whose nature or quantity is judged by the customs authorities to be are intended for commercial purposes, they are not exempt from duties.
Three Special Cases in the European Union:
- Canary Islands
- French overseas departments
- British Canal Islands
Special rules apply to all of these territories. Although they belong to the customs zone of the European Union (EU), they are excluded from excise duties and value-added taxes. You may therefore only import goods from these areas up to the indicated quantities and values.
This also applies to goods purchased in a duty free shop in the EU or on board an aircraft traveling within the EU, and to any other duty-free or tax-exempt goods you have purchased.
Tip on Personal Property:
If you take a valuable piece of equipment owned by you on a trip, you should make sure in advance that you will be able to bring it back with you without any problems. The customs authorities will issue an export certificate to you free of charge as proof that the equipment has not been purchased outside the country and is therefore not subject to import duties.
You can find more information on the website of the German customs authorities.