GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — DOD personnel with an APO address in Germany are subject to international customs regulations and are prohibited from ordering several products.

 

According to Andre Hutchinson, USAG Bavaria Customs Inspector, the list of authorized products is determined by German Customs, U.S. Customs, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Postal Service and evolving agreements between the U.S. military and the German federal government.

Andre Hutchinson, USAG Bavaria Customs Inspector, performs a routine inspection at the Tower Barracks Post Office Tue, July 12.

 

Although the list may seem detailed and exhaustive, Hutchinson said “grey areas,” or situations without clear and specific guidance, pop up regularly.


 

“If families and Soldiers have any doubts whatsoever,” said Hutchinson, “they should definitely run it by the Customs Office first. We’d rather have more calls than personnel reporting to JAG.”

 

DOD personnel who violate customs regulation may be subject to fines and disciplinary actions imposed by the German or U.S. justice system and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said Hutchinson. German customs officers may require the immediate collection of appropriate duties and taxes before a package is released. On military installations, unauthorized items will be confiscated.

 

International shipments go through three major filtration points, according to Richard Sturm, Lead Postal Assistant for the Grafenwoehr APO. When the package arrives in Germany, German customs officers process the shipments and x-ray a percentage of the packages. APO-bound boxes are then sent to the central distribution point in Wiesbaden, sorted and dispatched to specific installations. Finally, U.S. Army Europe customs officers regularly inspect APO for illegal imports at the installation.

 

For specific mailing requirements, visit the USPS International Mail Manual for Germany or USPS Postal Bulletin. For customs-related questions, call DSN 475-7249, CIV 09641-83-7249 on Tower and Rose Barracks, DSN 522-3376, CIV 09472-708-3376 for Hohenfels, and Garmisch.

 

Here’s the APO’s list of prohibited items for shipment to Germany.

 

1.  Animal products

What: All meat products — smoked, cured, vacuum-packed, canned, dried or otherwise —are strictly prohibited by German Customs. This also includes pet food and temperature-sensitive dairy products, such as soft cheeses and eggs, and untreated animal products, including game figurines, furs and bone or wood ornaments.

Why: German Customs Regulation No 206/2009

 

2.  Perishable items

What: Foods that easily spoil and perishable biological substances, including ready-to-eat meals, wild mushrooms, vegetables and kimchi, are forbidden. Non-perishable food items, such as candy and chocolate are allowed.

Why: German Customs Regulation No 206/2009

 

3. Plant products

What: Plants, live seeds and untreated wood products may not be shipped into Germany. Importation of dried, factory-sealed culinary herbs is allowed, however.

Why: German Customs Regulation on Plant Protection

 

4.  Coffee, alcohol & tobacco products

What: In accordance with international agreements, DOD personnel are not permitted to import rationed or duty-free items, including coffee, alcohol and tobacco products, through the Military Postal Service. These items are normally subject to customs duties and taxes upon entry into Germany, and so importing through the APO is a violation of German law and tax evasion. Specifically, liquor, wine, beer, alcohol-based candy and perfumes, cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco and packaged coffees are illegal.

Why: AE Regulation 550-175

 

5.  Kinder Surprise Eggs

What: Kinder Surprise Eggs are considered a serious choking hazard to children in the U.S., and exportation from Germany is illegal. Importation within Germany and the European Union is permitted, however.

Why: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection

 

6.  Nutritional supplements

What: Nutritional supplement products, including vitamins, medicinal herbs, protein powders, amino acids and dietary pills, are closely regulated in Germany and Europe. In general, only authorized products in Germany and the European Union are permitted. These items are available on the economy and on European websites, such as www.amazon.de.

Why: German Medicinal Products Act

 

7.  Prescription medication & recreational drugs

What: Foreign-produced prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication are also heavily regulated by German Customs. Authorized variations of medication are available at military medical treatment facilities, commissaries, AAFES, German pharmacies and retail stores. Recreational drugs and other controlled substances are strictly prohibited.

Why: German Medicinal Products Act and AE Regulation 550-175

 

8.  Firearms

What: Ammunition, firearms and imitation rifles, including airsoft, paintball and replica guns, are forbidden by German Customs. Shipment of privately-owned firearms is permitted with proper permits through the Bundesverwaltungsamt, or Germany’s Federal Office of Administration.

Why: German Customs Law on Weapons and Ammunition and AE Regulation 550-175

 

9.  Explosives, aerosols & flammable liquids

What: Explosives, aerosols and flammable liquids, including most perfumes, colognes, deodorant sprays and nail polishes, are not permitted through German Customs.

Why: German Customs Law on Fireworks and International USPS Regulation

 

10.  Counterfeit products

What: Products illegitimately carrying logos, business names and signs cannot be imported into Germany. This includes fake designer purses and illegally-derived DVDs.

Why: German Customs Law on Counterfeiting and Piracy

 

11.  Endangered species

What: It is illegal to import products containing components of endangered species. Ivory, reptile skin watchbands, sea turtle products, whale tooth decorations and caviar from sturgeon are all examples of prohibited items.

Why: German Customs Species Protection Law

 

12.  Items intended for resale or home-based business

What: It is illegal to order any products for a home-based business through the international Military Postal System.

Why: Army in Europe Regulation 210-70

 

13.  Pornography

What: Distribution and possession of obscene and pornographic materials are forbidden by the U.S. military.

Why: U.S. Postal Service APO Mail

 

 

 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 24, 2016.  The current information has been vetted by USAG Bavaria Customs officials and is updated as of November 8, 2019.


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