I'll be flying from the USA back to Germany. I have bought several gifts for family.

This includes:

  • A brand new laptop
  • makeup
  • clothes
  • wallets
  • perfumes

Is this going to cause a problem at the airport. We are flying from Charleston to Washington then to Germany. I have heard US customs sometimes cause problems. What are the things I can do to avoid such a hassle?

  • 4
    Why are you asking about US customs, when you're leaving the US?
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 18, 2022 at 13:53
  • 12
    US customs doesn't inspect people leaving the US. You will have to pass German customs.
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 18, 2022 at 14:06
  • 18
    I would suggest not packing the brand new laptop in checked luggage. It is possible that you will never see your checked luggage again, and a brand new laptop would be a choice target for theft. And every man and has dog already has keys for TSA approved locks (and if you don't use TSA approved locks, they will be cut off)
    – Peter M
    Oct 18, 2022 at 14:49
  • 5
    @MJeffryes It's rare anyway for US customs to inspect people leaving. Unless you have controlled goods in your bags or something deemed by the authorities to be of security importance on your laptop it's not something to worry about. I agree, do NOT check the laptop. If necessary, take it out of the box and carry the laptop itself. As happend to me once, the empty luggage turned up a couple days later. Oct 18, 2022 at 15:26
  • 3
    @SamuelMuldoon "Verleihung"`? surely not. that would mean "bestowal, award ceremony" or "lending", "loaning", "rental". A bestowal is the act of giving a gift, not a gift itself. An alternative to "gift" would be the word "present", if you want to speak English.
    – JakeDot
    Oct 19, 2022 at 8:27

1 Answer 1


The rules for importing goods to Germany as a traveller are here. Since none of the special categories apply to the goods you've brought (ie, they are not tobacco or alcohol) and you are travelling by air, the duty free allowance is the value of €430.

This is the total value of goods that you may bring in duty free. For any goods that exceed the total value you must pay duty on the total value of the items which exceed €430. By way of example, let's say the total value of the makeup, clothes, wallets and perfumes is €400, and the laptop is worth €500. In this case, you can bring everything except the laptop in according to your duty free allowance, but you will need to pay duty on the total value of the laptop.

The calculation of duty is quite complex. But the customs officers will do it for you. Assuming you are over the duty free limit you will need to pass through the red channel when entering Germany to declare your goods.

  • 12
    Might be worth adding: Use the red channel when in doubt, e.g. because the value is roughly 430€. AFAIK, there is no penalty in using the red channel when it turns out you have no goods to declare; while there sure is a penalty if you take the green channel and are found carrying goods to declare during a random inspection.
    – Sabine
    Oct 18, 2022 at 15:59
  • 5
    Once you have declared your goods (you need to have the invoices handy) the officials will calculate how much duty you have to pay. It may be zero. If it is > 0 then you just smile and pay it. This is OK, no crime has been committed. Do not argue. Do not try to hide anything.
    – RedSonja
    Oct 19, 2022 at 8:59
  • FWIW: German customs is fairly relaxed as compared most other countries. I've entered the country dozens of times and NEVER got asked anything by customs. In fact, the one time I actually chose to declare something, it was huge pain just to find an officer on duty. CAVEAT: I'm white and German looking so not exactly a target for profiling.
    – Hilmar
    Oct 19, 2022 at 13:45

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