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South Africans in Germany

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Customs

It is very tempting to take some German goodies with you when you travel to South Africa, and while most items are allowed, please make sure you know restrictions apply and what items are forbidden.
 Here is a link to a pdf file from SARS with the customs requirements when entering and leaving South Africa.

A more comprehensive list of prohibited, restricted and counterfeit goods from SARS can be found here. It can be downloaded as a spreadsheet.

Below are some examples from this list, always refer to the complete list mentioned above.

Prohibited goods

  • Narcotics:
    All narcotics and psychotropic substances, as well as habit-forming drugs such
    as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, Mandrax, Ecstasy and any paraphernalia relating to
    their use.
  • Firearms, weapons and ammunition:
    Fully automatic, military and unnumbered weapons, explosives and fireworks and
    weapons of mass destruction.
  • Poison and other toxic substances
  • Cigarettes with a mass of more than 2kg per 1000
  • Goods to which a trade description or trademark is applied in contravention of any
    Act (for example, counterfeit goods)
  • Unlawful reproductions of any works subject to copyright, and
  • Prison-made and penitentiary-made goods.

Restrictions

Certain goods may only be imported if you are in possession of the necessary authority/permit.
Some examples:

  • Firearms / Weapons
  • Gold coins
  • Excess currency (cash, banknotes etc.)
  • Unprocessed minerals (e.g. gold, diamonds, etc.)
  • Animals, plants and their products (e.g. animal skins, dairy products, honey)
  • Medicine (excluding sufficient quantities for three months for own personal treatment accompanied by a letter or certified prescription from a registered physician)
  • Herbal products (Department of Health permit required)

Duty free allowances

Goods falling within the following allowances may be brought in without the payment of customs duty and VAT as accompanied baggage:

  • No more than 200 cigarettes and 20 cigars per person
  • No more than 250g of cigarette or pipe tobacco per person
  • No more than 50ml perfume and 250ml eau de toilette per person
  • No more than 2 litres of wine per person
  • No more than 1 litre in total of other alcoholic beverages per person

In addition to personal effects and the above consumable allowances, travellers are allowed new or used goods in his/her accompanied baggage to the value of R5 000 (2023).

A traveller is entitled to these allowances once per person during a period of 30 days after an absence of 48 hours from South Africa. 
The tobacco and alcohol allowance does not apply to persons under the age of 18 years.

Medicinal products

Travellers may import their personal medicaments provided it is for not more than three (3) months’ use. This must be accompanied by a prescription issued by a medical doctor.

References

The most up-to-date information is available on the official websites

  • The South African Revenue Service – Customs  Home page
  • SARS – Information for Travellers

Guide/leaflet

You can print a Traveller’s Guide from this the SARS website, or a shorter leaflet also from SARS

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What can I bring into Germany

It is very tempting to bring some South African goodies with you when you travel to Germany, and while most items are allowed, there are Restrictions.

It is very tempting to bring some South African goodies with you when you travel to Germany, and while most items are allowed, there are Restrictions. There is also a limit on duty-free allowances.
The German Customs Agency is called the Zollampt. The information on this page is mainly aimed at travellers from South Africa (or most countries outside the Schengen Area) to Germany. For rules and restrictions when travelling within the Schengen Area please refer to the German Customs Website

When you do your research about what you are allowed to bring into Germany, always keep in mind if the rules apply to travel within the EU, or to countries outside of the EU. The rules are different for each scenario!

Duties, taxes and allowances

Please note that when you move to Germany, different rules and allowances may apply. You can find more information about transferring residence to Germany on this webpage.
For information on normal travel allowances, duties and taxes, please refer to this page

Restrictions

Below are some examples of restrictions, but please refer to the complete restrictions list for a complete overview:

Tobacco and alcoholic products

When travelling from outside the EU the following restrictions apply.
If the importer is at least 17 years old:

  • 200 cigarettes or
  • 100 cigarillos or
  • 50 cigars or
  • 250 grammes of tobacco or
  • a proportionate combination of these goods.

For more information on the allowance that applies (also alcohol) click here
Information on allowances within the EU see here

Medicinal products

When entering Germany travellers may bring with them medicinal products in quantities that meet usual personal needs. In such cases the usual personal need of a traveller is seen as being equivalent to a maximum of three months’ supply of the recommended dose of each medicinal product, irrespective of whether the medicinal products were already taken out of Germany and are now being brought back, or whether the products have been purchased abroad.

More information can found on the Customs website and in the Medicinal Products Act

Animals and plants or products containing animal or vegetable substances

Protected species – Many of us find stuffed animals, objects made of animal parts, or plants that are fascinating because they look unusual, attractive. Such souvenirs are often on sale where we go for our holidays. However, it is wise to be extremely cautious. Some examples are exotic skins and fur coats (Zebra skin falls in this category) , Cacti and cactus-like plants, Tillandsia, and orchids. Ivory or elephant leather (for example: ivory sculptures or carvings, elephant leather bags or elephant feet that have been converted into umbrella stands).  More info can also be found on the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation

Products of Animal origin

Animal diseases such as swine fever, bird flu or foot and mouth disease are widespread worldwide. There is therefore a constant risk of diseases being introduced that could threaten wildlife.
For this reason, the import of live animals and products of animal origin is only permitted after prior inspection by the responsible veterinary authorities and with the required health certificates. In addition, imports are restricted to certain customs offices.

When meat or milk, or meat or dairy products such as sausage or cheese are imported for personal consumption they must meet the same veterinary requirements as those applying to commercial imports.
This means that travellers who are carrying such products may only enter the European Union through those points of entry where a veterinarian is on duty. The necessary health certificates and a validated Common Veterinary Entry Document – CVED must also accompany the products.

This includes Biltong, Droëwors and Evaporated milk from South Africa

More information about Biltong from countries outside the EU

There seems to be some confusion when referring to an English Zoll page. To quote the relevant paragraph 

“Products such as the following are excepted from these regulations, and so travellers can import them within the regulation quantity thresholds without any hesitation

  • other animal products than meat or milk and/or meat or milk products up to a weight of two kilogrammes (honey, for example)..”

This section must be read carefully and taken into context of the whole page – it does not imply you can bring in 2kg of meat products, but that other animal products like honey are exempt and you can bring in 2kg of honey.  The German page is even more clear on this, you can also refer to the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2122 

“Ausgenommen von diesen Regelungen sind z.B. die nachfolgenden Waren. Sie können daher grundsätzlich im Rahmen der angegebenen Höchstmenge durch Reisende mitgebracht werden:

If you are still convinced that you are allowed to bring in Biltong, declare it at customs the next time you arrive in Germany, they will be able to give you up-to-date information.

References

  • The German Customs “Zoll” Home page
  • BMEL (Federal Ministry of food and Agriculture) – Importation of products of animal origin for personal consumption and also German regulations on the import of food.
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2009 regulates the non-commercial introduction of all animal products into the EU. This regulation has been directly applicable law since 1 May 2009.
  • Online Tools

  • With the travel tax calculator, you can quickly and easily find out which goods are permitted when entering Germany and what you will probably have to pay if you exceed the travel allowance.
  • The most important customs regulations are summarized on the customs website. The website provides comprehensive information on various topics related to customs, such as what you can bring back from abroad, what the allowances are for specific goods, and what items are prohibited.
  • Being a mindful traveller requires considering the impact of our tourism on the environment. You can use the Species Protection on Vacation website to research protected animals, plants, and related products sold at your holiday destination. This helps you make responsible choices and avoid supporting the illegal wildlife trade, which endangers many species.
  • Zoll und Post – When the goods are dispatched by post from a non-EU country, customs regulations must be complied with and import duties must usually be paid. The new “Customs and Post” app calculates the expected taxes and provides information on important customs regulations for a wide variety of goods groups. It also warns of the dangers that some products can pose
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