Moving to Germany: T-4 Days – Getting a Dog Bed out of Customs

So I have learned quite a few things over the last few about mailing boxes to Germany.  Listen carefully, everyone, because I will guide you through the ins and outs of mailing things to Germany and why.

The problem arose when Thorsten came home from his business trip to find a note from the German Customs saying that my package (I had shipped Abner’s bed ahead so it would be there when we arrived) was now in customs and it is missing an invoice.

Invoice? What the hell?

So after doing a little investigating, I discovered that this is common in Germany.

When filling out a customs form, you have to ‘claim’ what is in the package.  In this case, it was a dog bed, cast iron tea kettle, coffee mugs, and cook books all togethered valued at about $100.

Big mistake.

In Germany, the limit on the value of goods is 45 Euros (which is about $61).  Anything more and you have to pay taxes.

But this is only if you have purchased something above that limit should you be taxed.    Even though it is written on the box that the contents of the package were the sender’s own personal items (moving) but valued over that 45 euro limit, they didn’t believe it.  They assumed it was something purchased – thus they asked for an invoice to prove it. Obviously Thorsten did not purchase my smelly dog bed so of course there is no invoice.

Some people try to get passed customs by checking off that it’s a gift or ‘other.’ Because of this Customs will randomly take packages and sit on them for as long as they feel like it before deciding whether to send it on or send it back.

It’s kind of a pain in the ass.

So Thorsten will now have to go to Customs and explain to them the situation and even offer to open the package so they can get a big whiff of Abner from that box to prove that it is not something to be taxed.

On the other hand, I have sent two other packages valuing at around $50 (less than 45 euros) and one has already arrived at Thorsten’s doorstep without an issue.  The other should be arriving this week.

So there you have it: fill out the customs form as best as you can (if you’re going to send electronics…..don’t claim it, Germany only wants you to buy their more expensive versions of the same electronics).  Don’t let the value be more than $50 and send it either as a gift or as recipient (me) personal items.

It’s not a guarantee, but it’ll help.

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