As much as we love sending and receiving care packages, there’s nothing less “merry” than opening a package in front of the Zollamt worker containing those cute undies your mom just had to include with her homemade cookies (true story). Or having a Zollamt worker sniff the armpits of your items of clothing (also a true story). Pretty funny in retrospect – but the trip to the public office and sitting in the waiting room was annoying. Even worse is when you have to pay a tax to receive your package – whether it was a gift or you ordered it yourself. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this trip and give you more time for baking cookies and watching your favorite holiday films.
Here’s everything you or your loved ones need to know about the Zollamt and how to avoid your package ending up there.
Gifts from non-EU countries
are duty-free so long as the material value is under 45 euros. It must be clear that the package is from a private person to a private person (i.e. if there’s a business address or custom/commercial packaging they may be suspicious). There are, however, exemptions on specific items like alcoholic beverages, perfume and coffee, depending on the quantity.
If the gift is worth more than 45 euros but less than 700, a flat tax rate of 17.5 per cent will be applied and you’ll need to pay this before obtaining your package. Unless someone sent you over 45 euros of beer. In that case, there is a special beer tax (of course there is).
If you’re sending gifts outside the EU…
How much does every item weigh and how much is it worth? Yes, this is necessary. You’ll need to fill out a customs declaration, which they provide for you there, or you can fill one out before you go. If you’re unsure, don’t try to leave anything blank, they won’t accept it.
Lastly, just like for packages entering the EU, other countries have restrictions on what goods or what amount of goods enter the country. Have a look at this list to see if what applies to your package and its destination.
With that, good luck and may the holiday force be with you.
Andreas Moser says
And if you want to gift books, the paperback edition is absolutely fine.
There is no point in paying more at the bookstore, more for shipping and more in customs taxes for what is essentially the same reading pleasure.
Visibly used books are even better, because you can easily discount the value without anyone becoming suspicious. Although, in my experience, customs agents are rarely interested in books anyway.