A guide to navigating customs regulations when moving to Germany

A guide to navigating customs regulations when moving to Germany

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Moving to Germany in the near future? This guide, put together by AGS Movers Germany, explains what is and isn't allowed through customs in Germany (Zoll), and other regulations you should be aware of before travelling.

Whether you're a student, an employee or a parent reuniting with your adult children, clearing customs is mandatory for everyone moving to Germany. This guide equips you with essential knowledge to breeze through German customs with your household goods, avoiding hefty fines and ensuring a smooth transition to your new home.

If you're moving to Germany from outside the EU

Moving from outside the European Union to Germany involves significant customs procedures. Your personal belongings may also be subject to VAT (Value Added Tax), typically at a rate of 19%. 

You can avoid paying VAT if you're transferring your primary residence to Germany and you’ve owned the items you're importing, including vehicles, for more than six months. Keeping purchase receipts can help you prove the age of your belongings if questions arise.

Importantly, your household goods are only VAT exempt if they enter Germany within 12 months of your arrival. 

Visit the official German Customs website ( to read up on the procedure and the documentation you need to supply. Staying updated on any changes in customs regulations after your move is also advisable.

If you're moving to Germany from another EU country

For EU citizens relocating to Germany, the process is much simpler. There's no VAT due on goods bought in other EU countries, reflecting the benefits of the EU's free-movement policy. This allows for a straightforward and cost-effective relocation experience.

In both cases, it's crucial to stay informed and prepare for the customs process to ensure a smooth transition.

Prohibited and restricted items in Germany

From the obvious no-go items, like illegal drugs and weapons, to the more subtle restrictions on food items or antiques, knowing what you cannot bring over the border will help you avoid hefty fines. 

Here are some common items that are either prohibited or restricted when entering Germany:

Drugs and narcotics

Germany has a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal drugs. There are also strict regulations on recreational and (certain) medicinal products. Research the legality of any over-the-counter medications you plan to bring with you. To be safe, carry a doctor's prescription or formal statement.

Firearms and weapons

The importation of firearms and weapons, including hunting rifles and knives, is subject to stringent laws in Germany. You must have a permit and adhere to specific transport protocols, and there are severe legal consequences for non-compliance.

Animals and animal products

There are strict restrictions on animal imports to Germany, to prevent the spread of diseases. Compliance with regulations is crucial for border entry. Pets coming from non-European Union (EU) countries need microchips, rabies vaccinations and an official veterinary certificate. It's also worth noting that there are import bans on certain dog breeds, including bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and any cross-breeds with these breeds.  

Cultural artefacts

A lesser-known rule in Germany is that antiques and culturally significant items may require a special permit. If you are planning to bring any antiques with you, it's worth conducting some thorough research on your specific situation to avoid any legal issues.

Clear customs without a hitch!

Your move to Germany marks the beginning of an exciting adventure, and clearing customs without a hitch will get you off to a good start. But this requires knowledge of the regulations, organisation and compliance. 

For a smooth move to Germany, AGS is your expert guide. They understand the complexities of importation and customs clearance and can handle every detail for you, ensuring that your belongings arrive safely and comply fully with German regulations. Contact AGS Movers Germany for a free moving quote and see how they can help you start your new chapter in Germany.



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