On the website for Germany’s Customs office I can find the following information about importing alcohol into Germany from outside the EU:

1 litre of spirit drinks of an alcohol strength by volume exceeding 22 % or undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength by volume of 80 % or higher or

2 litres of alcohol and alcoholic beverages of an alcohol strength by volume up to 22 % or

a proportionate combination of these goods and

4 litres of non-sparkling wine and

16 litres of beer

Say I was considering bringing more than the allowed amount for personal consumption (i.e. not for resale, business use or a gift). How can I calculate the fees (i.e. duties, VAT, etc.) that would be charged?


1 Answer 1


In the succeeding page to your German Central Customs Authority link, it explains how such import duties are assessed (and as phoog commented).

Exceeding travellers’ allowances

Simplified calculation of charges

Depending on the value of the goods, the duty may be either

  • calculated by means of a flat rate of duty, or
  • assessed in detail by applying the relevant provisions in each case.

A simplified calculation of charges by means of a flat rate of duty may be applied where the value of the goods subject to import tax does not exceed 700 euros per for each individual traveller. This method makes the calculation of charges less complicated and time consuming. Usually the duty charged using the flat rate approach is lower than when the different duties (custom, import VAT and excise duty) are calculated separately. The flat rate duty charges include all types of duty. However, what is known as "the simplified calculation of duty" can only be applied subject to the following conditions being met:

  • the value of the dutiable goods that you are bringing with you does not exceed 700 euros,
  • the goods you are bringing with you are in your personal luggage, and
  • they are for your personal use or consumption, or brought as a gift.

Where these conditions are not met, or if you reject the flat-rate approach, the amount of taxes and duties shall be calculated on the basis of the customs tariff and the relevant individual tax regimes - a procedure known as the "tariff-based recovery".

The flat rate of duty is set at 17.5 percent of the product value. A reduced rate of only 15 percent ad valorem is charged on goods for which specific tariff concessions - known as preferences - have been granted.

Also, for certain goods special flat rates of duty shall be applied. These rates comprise the whole range of charges to be recovered on the products concerned, that is customs duty, excise and import VAT.

The flat rate of duty can not be applied where beer is imported in an amount that exceeds the traveller’s allowance. Here, the charges shall be calculated on the basis of the applicable customs tariff rates and the Beer Tax Act.

Flat rate charges for certain goods

Tariff-based calculation of duties Where the customs tariff is to be applied for the calculation of duties, each individual type of charge (such as tobacco tax, customs duty, and import VAT) shall be calculated separately.

Where such method of calculation is not feasible, the amount of import charges depends not only on the value of the goods, but also on their nature and characteristics. The import charges will then be calculated on the basis of the Common Customs Tariff of the European Communities and the rates laid down in the relevant national tax legislation.

The total amount of import charges can be composed of the following types of duty:

  • the customs duty levied on all imported goods,
  • excise duties including, for example, the charges on energy, tobacco products and spirits, alcopops, beer, sparkling wines and intermediate products, which are due on all goods subject to excise duty, and the
  • import value-added tax levied on all imported goods.

The amount of duty payable follows from the valuation of goods for customs purposes (or "customs value") and the rate of duty applicable in each case. Valuations shall be performed in accordance with the generally applicable customs valuation provisions. In the case of imports by travellers the transport costs are not included in the valuation for customs purposes, and so usually the value of the goods for customs purposes will be the same as the purchase price.

Normally, calculation of the excise duties to be levied shall be based on the quantity of the goods brought into the country and the excise duty rate applicable in each case.

The basis for assessment of the import VAT shall be the goods’ "customs value" plus customs duty, plus - in the case of excise goods - any applicable excise duties.

The import VAT rate is currently set at 19 percent; there is a reduced rate of 7 percent with respect to selected goods such as food products and books.

For goods from a number of countries specific tariff concessions - known as preferences - have been granted. Where such a concession takes the form of an exemption from customs, only the import VAT and any applicable excise duty must be paid with respect to the goods imported.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .