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Source: BUS Sachsen-Anhalt (Linie6PLus)

Importing goods from EU countries into Germany


If you enter or return to Germany from a member state of the European Union (EU), you can bring the goods purchased there tax-free and without customs formalities. However, certain excise goods, such as coffee, alcohol or tobacco products, are subject to indicative quantities up to which use for private purposes is generally assumed.

The indicative quantities for tax-free bringing from other EU member states for private purposes are:

  • in the case of tobacco products

    • Cigarettes: 800 pieces
    • Cigarillos: 400 pieces
    • Cigars: 200 pieces
    • Smoking tobacco: 1 kilogram
  • in the case of alcoholic beverages

    • Alcohol for drinking purposes (such as brandy, whiskey, rum, vodka): 10 litres
    • alcoholic sweet drinks (alcopops): 10 litres
    • Intermediate products (such as sherry, port wine and marsala): 20 litres
    • Sparkling wine: 60 litres
    • Beer: 110 litres
  • with coffee

    • Coffee: 10 kilograms
    • Coffee-containing goods: 10 kilograms
  • in the case of fuels

    • for vehicles, special containers, machinery and equipment, and refrigeration and air-conditioning systems: the quantity contained in the main tank and up to 20 litres in a vehicle's reserve containers.

These indicative quantities may be used cumulatively. This means, for example, that you are allowed to bring several types of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages at the same time up to the specified reference quantity for your own consumption.

Exceedance of indicative quantities – commercial introduction

If the goods you are carrying exceed the guideline quantities, a commercial purpose is presumed by law – regardless of the other criteria. You can dispel this presumption by proving that you personally use the goods you have brought with you for private purposes. In doing so, you must credibly demonstrate that you meet the requirements for tax exemption.

Otherwise, there is a transfer for commercial purposes. This means that you have to pay excise duty on the goods you bring with you. If you cannot refute that you are bringing the goods for commercial purposes, customs will seize the goods you have brought with you. In this case, you must immediately declare the goods you have brought with you and pay the excise duty.

If you are unsure whether the goods you have brought with you exceed the recommended quantities, please contact customs directly.

Territories with special customs or tax regimes

The following territories belong to the national territory, but not to the customs and tax territory of the EU. Imports from these territories are subject to the rules for entries from non-EU Member States. Goods from these areas are therefore only duty-free if they do not exceed the travel allowances for goods from non-EU countries. If the travel allowances are exceeded, customs duties, import sales tax and possibly excise duties will be charged:

  • 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,
  • Livigno,
  • 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 regimes

The following territories belong to the customs territory, but not to the tax territory of the EU. The regulations for entries from non-EU member states apply. If you do not meet the requirements for a tax-free transfer for private purposes, you will have to pay import sales taxes and possibly excise duties:

  • Canary Islands (excise duty and import VAT),
  • British Channel Islands (excise duty and import VAT),
  • French overseas departments (Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Saint-Martin and French Guiana) (excise duty and import VAT),
  • Åland Islands (excise duty and import VAT),
  • Mount Athos in Greece (excise duty and import sales tax) and
  • Campione d'Italia (Italy) as well as the part of Lake Lugano between Ponte Tresa and Porto Ceresoi belonging to Italy (import VAT).

The requirements for a tax-free transfer from other EU Member States for private purposes are:

  • You are personally carrying the goods in question.
  • The goods are intended for personal use (personal use).
  • The goods are not intended for commercial purposes.
  • You have acquired the goods in free circulation in another EU Member State. This means that the goods have already been taxed in the EU member state concerned because you bought them in the usual way, for example in a supermarket.
  • The goods do not violate prohibitions and restrictions.
  • The goods are not brought from a special customs or tax area.
  • several minutes, sometimes more than an hour

If you fall below the indicative quantities and meet the other requirements, you can continue your journey normally.

If you exceed the guideline quantities and cannot refute commercial use, you must declare the goods you have brought with you immediately after crossing the border:

  • You can obtain the form required for registration from the main customs office responsible for your place of residence. Alternatively, you can download the form from the Internet.
  • Send the completed form immediately, at the latest after arrival at your destination, to the main customs office responsible for your place of residence.
  • The main customs office will examine your application.
  • It may ask you to correct your information.
  • At the end of the check, the main customs office will issue a tax assessment with the amount of excise duty that you need to transfer.
  • Special case: If you are not resident in the tax territory in Germany, register the goods immediately with the main customs office responsible for the place where you cross the border. There they also pay the corresponding excise duty.

If you exceed indicative quantities and/or do not meet the requirements for a tax-free border crossing and conceal this during an inspection when crossing the border, you are committing tax evasion. This is also the case if you provide false or incomplete information about your goods during an inspection. This also applies to the information in the application. In this case, criminal proceedings may arise.

Federal Ministry of Finance

The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

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