8

e.g. Flight was:

Foz do Iguacu (IGU) -> Sao Paulo  [on Azul or Gol, don't remember]
Sao Paulo -> Lisboa [on TAP]
Lisboa -> Munich (MUC) [on TAP]

Luggage was checked through from IGU to MUC, in Lisboa I had to pass immigration, but I did not have to go through customs neither had to claim my luggage. In MUC there was no customs present at all, since the flight was Schengen internal, I suppose.

I am on similar flights like once a year and every time I am wondering if I am missing something.

  • 2
    Are you sure there was no customs signs present at all at Munich Airport? Which terminal did you arrive at? – zhantongz Jun 12 at 2:15
  • 5
    I bet there were customs present, you just didnt see them. Often they arent visible, but passengers will be profiled and anyone they have identified before that point (either by baggage screening before you get your baggage, or by other means) would see some attention when they tried to leave. – Moo Jun 12 at 2:24
  • 2
    For terminal 2 at least, you should see a customs sign at baggage claim area. There is no systematic check, but you are still supposed to declare if you have something to declare, and random checks (well, sometimes not so random) are conducted to enforce the rules. – zhantongz Jun 12 at 2:35
  • 3
    @JörgWMittag the approach in the USA is to make you collect your baggage at the first airport in the USA, take it through customs, and then re-check it at a dedicated dropoff. Is it different in the Schengen area? – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 11:54
  • 1
    @zhantongz that sounds pretty complicated, is it on the airlines to organise all this? – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 13:16
23

When you left Munich's baggage claim area for the arrivals hall, you should have had to choose between a green channel and a red channel, and possibly a blue channel. That was customs.

The blue channel, if there is one, is for people arriving from inside the EU. Since you were coming from Brazil, you should not have used that channel (despite your stopover in Portugal). The green channel is for people with nothing to declare to customs, and the red channel is for people who do have something to declare.

Customs officers monitor the green channel and may stop people who are using it, but in my experience this happens very rarely indeed.

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  • 5
    That's what I expected, but I am almost sure we did not walk through any of such lanes. In another occasion, a friend of mine brought lots of "Velho Barreiro" sprit from brazil, and wanted to declare it and was actively looking for customs officers in Bremen, but customs were not present neither. – Marc Wittke Jun 12 at 11:14
  • 1
    Similar experiences, if I recall correctly. It's a EU flight, exit is trivial. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jun 12 at 12:31
  • 1
    (+1) Note that luggage checked in inside the EU have green stripes on both sides of the tag. You could remove it before going through the customs channels, travel without hold luggage or even apply fake tags after collecting your luggage but apart from that, it's very easy for customs agent to see at a glance where your luggage came from originally. – Relaxed Jun 12 at 13:16
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    @MarcWittke You have to walk out one way or the other, the theory is still the same: all flows are mixed at the luggage claim level, declaration at the very end of the journey rather than the first flight into the EU, spots checks to enforce all this. Sometimes the lane is a sliding door with a green sign rather than a full corridor with colored walls, the only EU airport I saw another setup is Toulouse (which is much smaller than MUC): the red “lane” was a phone on the wall you were supposed to use if you didn't qualify for the only exit (which was marked green). – Relaxed Jun 12 at 13:21
  • 2
    @Relaxed TLS is far from the only airport which only has a phone for customs declarations; plenty of smaller airports do that. – gsnedders Jun 12 at 19:37

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