I recently drove from Poland to England and was stopped by German customs to see the contents of my van.

I had the following: kitchen from IKEA, wardrobe from Polish company, doors from Polish company, mattress, 10 litres of vodka, 40 cans of beer and 60 litres of diesel in jerry cans purchased in Poland.

I thought that part of 'being in the EU' was that, if you were just passing through an EU country, you could do so without any customs checks and that custom checks where made at the point of your final destination. In my case, customs checks should be done on entering the UK and not entering Germany, Netherlands, Belgium or France.

Am I right? If so, where can I complain, in Germany or England? I was fined for too much fuel.

Second, they wouldn't let me leave their customs area until I signed their paperwork. All was in German which I don't speak or read so I could have signed a confession which may lead to further actions being taken by them. for all I know!

  • I think you get checked only at your final destination only if you get covered by TIR Convention en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TIR_Convention (which I think it's valid only for commercial trucks, your truck would have to be sealed etc). Also, how could they know Germany is not your final destination? If it was working like this, you could just say in every country you enter that it's not your final destination and never get checked.
    – Kuba
    May 9, 2018 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


You are wrong in your assumption that you can carry any goods between EU states without paperwork. For certain categories, taxes may still apply even if there are no customs duties, because taxes are not harmonized.

  • With significant amounts of alcohol and similar goods, you would have to demonstrate that you are not a commercial importer. As I understand it, you were just at the limit for vodka where personal use is presumed.
  • A similar regulation applies to fuel. I'm assuming you drove a diesel van, or the fuel wouldn't be personal use. Even so, there is a limit where fuel is not presumed to be personal use any more. The AA gives different numbers than German sites, but either way 60 litres were too much.

If I found that with a few moments of googling, you would be expected to do the same. If I had to guess, they saw the fact that you maxed out your vodka limit as a sign that you knew there are some limits.

As to complaints, of course you complain about German customs in German courts, unless you want Her Majesty's government to start diplomatic proceedings on your behalf. If you upload those forms, with personal identification blanked out, there may be a paragraph where exactly you can complain.

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