Attention customs: what souvenirs can i bring back from vacation?? What do i have to declare?

W he likes to buy souvenirs on vacation? Here’s a souvenir for loved ones back home, there’s an anecdote to a great vacation time, and here’s a find from a great beach to take home as a souvenir? It is easy to lose track in the buying frenzy. Just recently I experienced this again in Africa: here a souvenir as a souvenir, there a souvenir. I would have loved to bring back tons of z.B. these great Makombe wood carvings made of ebony I liked so much and they would bring the Africa feeling so well into the living room at home, but what is actually permitted? Beware of souvenirs on vacation! What is allowed to bring? What not? In many countries products from nature and animal products are under species or nature protection. And customs officials are not amused by counterfeit goods either. How much am I actually allowed to bring and import and what I have to declare?

Customs is unfortunately not to be trifled with. If you are caught importing or exporting prohibited items or exceed the duty-free limit, you can expect hefty fines. This starts from harmless fines to the accusation of tax evasion, which entail an entry in the criminal record, up to prison sentences. That’s where the fun ends.

Which souvenirs are allowed through customs?

numbers& Facts of the goods seized by the German customs from the year 2015

  • In 2015, the German customs Counterfeit goods worth over 132 million euros confiscated.
  • seized were 75 million untaxed cigarettes, almost 1.7 tons of cocaine, more than 1.6 tons of marijuana, 942 kilograms of hashish, 121 kilograms of heroin and 84 kilograms of opium
  • About 1.Customs officers made 300 finds in 2015 and confiscated over 580 souvenirs.000 objects, which are under nature and species protection.

Do you still need a credit card with which you can withdraw cash abroad for free and pay without foreign fees? Here is my personal recommendation:

  • DKB-Cash account – withdraw and pay cash for free*

When do I have to declare my souvenirs?? What is the travel allowance?

Of course, you are allowed to take souvenirs from your vacation destination for personal use. However, there is an upper limit. Up to one Travel allowance of 430 euros for adults holidaymakers are allowed to bring souvenirs on sea and air journeys. Anything above that must be declared at customs.

Travel blog on the road & at home

Red or green? Do I have to pay duty on my souvenirs?

Those arriving at the airport go through either the green or red passage at customs. Green is for all those who have nothing to declare, red for goods subject to declaration, d.h. for goods that have to be declared. If you are carrying goods that actually have to be cleared through customs and you still go through the green exit and get caught, excuses won’t help you much. Ignorance does not protect from punishment and in this case is smuggling. There is the threat of confiscation of the goods, a fine and possibly a fine. A penalty notice.

Travel within the European Union

Travel within the European Union is the easiest and allows all EU citizens many benefits and freedoms. This also includes bringing souvenirs for personal use. However, there are restrictions for certain areas:

Restrictions on the import of medicines
The import and export of medicines to Germany is allowed for personal use. Not allowed are counterfeit medicines and medicines that z.B. be used for doping.

Restriction on the import and export of cash
Within the EU and the Schengen area cash may be carried for personal purposes. However there is an upper limit and that lies also in the EU with 10.000 euros. Those bringing cash in this amount must pay duty on it. D.h. red passage at customs and not the green one.

Export of cultural goods
Cultural goods are always subject to the national protection of a particular country and it requires a license for the export of special cultural goods, this includes for Germany z.B. important works of art and library stalls. What is included in the export of cultural goods from Germany, you can find out in the directory of German cultural goods. cultural goods of other countries are listed in the respective national directories.

forbidden goods
– Fireworks not permitted in Germany
– unconstitutional media& writings or media that violate the protection of minors

Travel outside the EU

When traveling outside of EU member states, the rules are a bit more detailed.

Upper limit for cash

Import of cash into Germany up to an amount of less than 10.000 Euro is allowed, above this amount duty has to be paid.

Attention when exporting foreign currency of the respective country governments

Whether this is allowed or not is determined by the respective vacation country, z.B. it was not allowed in Cuba to export the national currency CUC. Information on this can be obtained from the Foreign Office.

cigarettes& alcohol

Mostly there is an upper limit of the respective country how much cigarettes& Alcohol may be exported. Who after from non-EU countries, from special tax areas (z.B. Canary Islands or British Channel Islands) and entering Germany from the island of Heligoland may bring the following amount into Germany duty-free:

  • 200 cigarettes or
  • 100 cigarillos or
  • 50 cigars or
  • 250 grams of smoking tobacco
  • 1 liter of spirits with an alcohol content of more than 22 percent by volume or undenatured ethyl alcohol with an alcohol content of 80 percent by volume or more or
  • 2 liters of alcohol and alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content not exceeding 22% by volume or
  • a proportional compilation of these goods and
  • 4 liters of non-sparkling wines and
  • 16 liters of beer

Be careful with souvenirs

Sand, shells, stones – it could be national cultural property!

Who has ever taken a breeze of sand from a dream beach, a shell or a beautiful stone as a vacation souvenir? Many tourists do not know that this is strictly forbidden in some countries. Because it could be national cultural property. In Turkey, it is z.B. strictly forbidden to bring stones, in Sardinia it is not allowed to bag sand. It could be fossils or ancient finds that the unsuspecting tourist did not recognize as such. Not infrequently, tourists have already been caught on departure with such finds in the luggage and found themselves in Turkish custody again, with a little luck they could get out by a lavish bail otherwise is made here also before tourists no pardon and there are severe penalties for violations pending. Can of course also be booked under adventure vacation, but does not have to be.

Souvenirs from vacation: arts and crafts and antiques? What is allowed, what is not?

The same caution is needed when purchasing handicrafts, antiques, art o.a. offered. This could also be national cultural property. Possibly one needs for the export a special export permission of the respective vacation country. What is allowed and what is not, one learns z.B. at the foreign office under travel& safety instructions under customs regulations.

I would also not listen to traders who try to talk me into buying their goods. They would claim anything to sell something. When buying handicrafts and antiques, it is advisable to get receipts and vouchers, which can be used to verify the authenticity of the goods. can also show at customs (the travel allowance applies, beyond that duty must be paid).

souvenirs on vacation: be careful with products made from animals and plants that are protected species!

Safari in the Serengeti National Park

For the protection of endangered species, which are threatened with extinction, the carrying of animals, animal parts etc. is not allowed., which you can buy if necessary. can also be found in souvenirs, strictly forbidden if they fall under the protection of species. The international agreement on the protection of species applies. This applies regardless of whether one enters or leaves the EU. Therefore, increased caution is required with souvenirs.

However, this applies not only to plants and animals that are protected species, but also to products made from animals or plants that are protected species z.B. Skin creams, medicines, Asian remedies, sturgeon caviar, leather, etc.

The following products are under species protection, trade, acquisition, import and export is prohibited:

  • Ivory or elephant leather (also z.B. Sculptures and carvings from ivory, elephant leather or prepared elephant feet as umbrella stands)
  • Hunting trophies of protected species
  • exotic skins and fur coats
  • Products from wild cat species
  • all monkeys, including meat like "bushmeat
  • Rhino products (z.B. horns, prepared rhinoceros feet, potency drugs made from rhinoceros powder)
  • live or stuffed birds (especially birds of prey)
  • Crocodiles, caimans and snakes (also processed into shoes, belts or watch straps)
  • Sea turtles and products made of tortoise shell
  • Cacti or cactus-like plants, tillandsias and orchids
  • Corals, shells of mussels and snails (z.B. also processed into jewelry)

Important to know
Who brings knowingly or unknowingly species-protected souvenirs, must count on the fact that the commodity is confiscated. In addition, there are sometimes very high fines (z.B. for ivory, corals, etc.).

Buying plagiarism as vacation souvenirs

Because it is more and more difficult to recognize plagiarism, the customs officers often turn a blind eye, but this does not mean that the purchase of plagiarism is allowed. On the contrary, the purchase and import of plagiarism is illegal and not a trivial offense. With the purchase one supports product piracy. It is problematic if the travel allowance of currently 430 euros is exceeded. Over it one must declare namely. The problem with plagiarism is that the goods were bought cheaply because they are fakeware, but are deceptively similar to the original. In case of doubt, the customs officials use the value of the original goods, which is of course many times higher. If you have bought two pairs of branded jeans for 50 euros, you can quickly exceed the travel allowance if customs charges 500 euros for them. Therefore, you should also be able to prove the value of the goods, specifically this means: receipts, receipts, receipts (typically, of course, there are not with fakeware from the bazaar). If the customs officials suspect that with the cheaply purchased plagiarism even a commercial interest is represented, the officials understand absolutely no more fun. It is punishable by law. There are at least fines.

Of course it is tempting to buy new designer clothes on a trip to the USA, which are cheaper there than in this country, and to take the brand new iPhone with you, and then of course your loved ones at home also want to have something and order the purchase of new bags, etc., at the same time. Caution, the travel limit applies! If you are caught smuggling, it can be expensive for you. And what does it help if I have a new i-phone, but I threw away the packaging with all the documentation about the purchase/product, so that the customs officers don’t get suspicious?? In case of a complaint, I would look stupidly out of the laundry.

My tips for safe entry and exit with souvenirs

  • free app from customs: customs& Travel

With this you can always check on the road what you are allowed to purchase and import and export in the respective vacation country and what not

  • free app from the foreign office: safety& Travel

all useful information about the destination country: entry and exit conditions, vaccinations& Health, customs regulations and much more.

  • if possible keep receipts and documents of the purchased goods
  • Calculate the value of the souvenirs, it is best to have a rough idea of how much you will spend on souvenirs, this also helps your own travel budget.

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