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Germany: Imports and Customs

In eager anticipation of your move to Germany, you may already be busy packing crates, boxes, and suitcases. The importation of certain items, however, can quickly become complicated. Our overview of Germany’s imports and customs restrictions guides you through some issues that you should be aware of.

While preparing your move to Germany, you may be wondering which personal belongings to take with you. The good news is that bringing most personal items through customs won’t get you into any difficulties. However, there are some regulations strictly enforced by the customs office in Germany. The importation of some items may be restricted or prohibited by the German Customs Administration, even when being transferred within the EU.

Some of these restrictions won’t come as a surprise (e.g. drugs, weapons, pornography). However, you might not have expected a few other rules upheld by the customs administration in Germany, such as restrictions on importing certain breeds of dog or so-called “unconstitutional media”. 

Imports and Customs: Personal Items and Household Goods 

When it comes to shipping your personal belongings, your household goods will pass customs authorities in Germany without trouble. However, you should take note of certain limitations: You must declare cash, securities, or checks in excess of EUR 10,000 in value. Cash equivalents such as raw or polished jewels and precious metals must also be declared. If you are caught trying to slip these items past customs, the resulting fines can be rather heavy (up to EUR 1 million).

Moreover, alcohol and tobacco products, as well as items used to exercise a trade or profession, are not considered personal property moved in connection with a transfer of residence. This means that, if the amount you import of these items exceeds a certain volume or quantity, you will have to pay duty. Please refer to the German Customs Administration for further details.

Moreover, the Customs Administration also needs you to fulfill several requirements in order to be able to import furniture and household goods free of the usual import duties. Germany’s customs laws state that you must…

If your belongings meet these conditions, passing the customs inspection shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you import very expensive things for personal use (e.g. a luxury car), you may have to leave a deposit with the customs office. They will pay you back once you re-export the item in question.

Imports and Customs: Restrictions and Prohibitions

There are several strict customs regulations in Germany. The importation of the following items is either forbidden or heavily restricted by the German Customs Administration:

If you follow all of these complicated rules, you should have no problem importing your personal belongings. In the vast majority of cases, expats are able to start their new life abroad with their most treasured possessions.  


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine