DE | EN | RU (0)69 76 75 77 80Mon. - Fri. from 8am to 8pm, Sat. from 8am to 5pm

Souvenirs must be reported to customs when exceeding certain value

Sep 23, 15 • Customs LawNo Comments

Travelers flying to Germany have an allowance of EUR 430 that also applies to souvenirs. If this exemption is exceeded, draconian penalties may be assessed by German customs authorities.

Customs offenses comparable to tax evasion

Customs offenses are often comparable to tax evasion, with the latter being handled by revenue offices. When it comes to imposing penalties for small offenses, however, customs authorities far exceed what is imposed by revenue offices for comparable offenses.

Using Frankfurt am Main as an example, the revenue and finance authorities impose penalties in the form of “daily rates” for smaller tax evasion offenses. The person concerned has a choice of either paying the assessed daily rate or of spending 24 hours in custody for each rate. The overwhelming majority decides to make the payment.

The amount of the daily rate depends on the person’s individual income situation and varies between EUR 1 and EUR 5,000. The monthly income available to the individual is determined by the authorities. If souvenirs result in a tax recovery, it is crucial how many daily rates are imposed.

These issue are often resolved in mass procedures based on tables listing the range of sentences. In Frankfurt, for example, the individual must expect three to four daily rates as a penalty for EUR 500 in evaded taxes. Customs authorities, on the other hand, use a different computation method, where the evasion amount is divided by a factor of 40. Customs and duties evasion of EUR 500 then result in some 12 daily rates as a penalty. Compared with tax evasion of the same amount, this is a significantly more severe punishment!

Using the red exit area on airports

Taking this into account, it is urgently recommended to notify customs authorities of all souvenirs once the traveler’s allowance has been reached. Generally, by using the “red” exit area when leaving the airport, customs authorities will check whether there are duties to be paid. This is a way to make certain that souvenirs will keep bringing joy long after the traveler has returned home.

More on German Customs Law:
Honeymoon and wedding abroad: German Customs shows no mercy

Stefan Winheller

Attorney Stefan Winheller has specialized in tax law for about 20 years, especially in the areas of cryptocurrencies, foundations/nonprofits and international tax law.

>> show profile

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

WINHELLER Blog via Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates on German business law by e-mail. (Mandatory fields are marked with *)

German Business Law News (4 times a year)
I would like to subscribe to the selected newsletter and for that purpose give my consent to WINHELLER to process my above mentioned data. I have read the "Information for Data Processing in the Newsletter Subscription". I understand that I can revoke my consent at any time with effect for the future by clicking the unsubscribe button within the newsletter. *