Leaving Oct 3

Old Sep 28th, 2000, 06:43 AM
  #1  
kay
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Leaving Oct 3

I will be leaving Oct 3 for Frankfurt. We will be going to Belgium, Austria, Italy, London, Holland, and of course Germany. What should I know about custom regulations?
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 07:56 AM
  #2  
Art
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If you are refering to Customs (Imigration) and not customs of countrys in most of the countries that you have mentioned you'll not have any to go through. The exception would be England which is not part of the EU.
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 08:23 AM
  #3  
Gordon R
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Art: You're a little out of date. We in the UK have been part of the European Community since the early 1970's. Perhaps you are thinking of the Schengen (sp) agreement covering the lowering of border controls between some continental European countries.

Kay: For info on UK customs regulations, go to www.hmce.gov.uk and look under "information for the public". I'm sure one of my continental European friends can point you in the right direction for the other countries mentioned.
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 10:09 AM
  #4  
KAY
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I thank both of you for your reply. I have never left the United States before and do not know what should be declared at the customs (?) counter in the Frankfurt airport. Also, I want to buy souveniers (spellink?) but do not know how much I can buy in each country or how much I can bring back to the states. I am very confused.
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 10:27 AM
  #5  
kay
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I did check out the sight hmce.gov.uk. I am more confued than ever. I must be extremely dense, because I just don't get the whole thing. (Please, don't say to stay here...I want to see my new grandbaby.) What about gifts for the baby, they total $160 US. Do I have to declare this items, and if they are over the 350DM that German customs limits, do I have to pay duty? If I smoke, I can only bring 200 cigarettes? What about Christmas gifts for family & friends back home here in the States, do I have to declare them at US customs? How do I bring back gifts or should I mail them? Thank you for your patience.
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 11:43 AM
  #6  
Gordon R
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Hi Kay, sorry to hear the UK Government website caused confusion. I suspect you're worrying unnecessarily, but that's perfectly understandable if you're not used to overseas travel. Let's see if I can add some practical advice.

When you arrive in Europe, you'll see 3 customs lanes. The red lane is for people with goods to declare. It's rare to see people going through the red lane, but it would apply if you were importing items of high value (e.g. a suitcase of diamonds!)

I assume you won't be, so you need to go through the green lane. I'm also assuming you won't be bringing any prohibited items such as illegal drugs, hard core pornography, firearms or fruit (restricted due to pest control). Even in the green lane, you can still be pulled over by customs agents who may ask you some questions and have the right to search your bags. Highly unlikely this would happen though. I've travelled internationally over 100 times in the last decade and only been stopped once (although this was on the way back to the UK from Los Angeles). Even if the value of your gifts are slightly over the limit it's very unlikely they would ask for duty to be paid.

There's also a blue lane, but this is only for those arriving from flights originating in the EU. You would use the blue lane if yu take further "internal" flights within the EU countries.

Another issue is Immigration, which you reach before picking up your bags of the carousel and going through the customs lanes. Non-EU citizens have to go through a separate immigration channel (which can lead to long delays) and have to complete a landing card. Usually no problem provided your passport is in order, you have sufficient funds for your trip and there is no evidence you intend to seek work here.
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 11:51 AM
  #7  
Art
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Good answers Gorden. Thanks for the correction. It's been many years since I visited the UK and wasn't sure about that. As far as the European mainland , Kay, I was just in France, Portugal, Spain, Morroco, Germany and Gibralter and the only time that I went through customs was when I landed in France and when I left Germany to return to the U.S.
Gorden, I'll be traveling to the British Isles in 2 years so a year or so down the road I'll be soliciting information from you.
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 11:56 AM
  #8  
noname
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Hi Kay:
If you have the baby gifts packed in your luggage, I don't believe you have to declare them. Cigarettes I am not too sure of. Though 200 seems to be right. I usually mail my gifts homes, less to carry and I like to receive the packages when I return home. Most of the time the VAT(the value added tax) is deducted before you buy the item. If you choose not to ship the items home ask for a Global Refund Form. Have the customs agent stamp it in the airport. You might have to produce the items (another reason I ship things home)You can claim the tax refund and have it credited to your credit card when you get home or get your money at the airport. The refund takes a while to get credited but I never liked waiting on the long lines to get the refund at the airport. One thing I ask is that the customs agent stamp my passport so I have a record of each place I have been. Not all Customs agents do it, so I ask and have never been denied! Have a wonderful trip and enjoy your new grandchild!!
 
Old Sep 28th, 2000, 11:57 AM
  #9  
Gina
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Hi Kay,

It's all a lot easier than it seems, and if you have any concerns or confusion, usually you can ask the flight attendant on your plane for help in filling out the landing card.

Gordon provided great information about landing in Europe; you also asked about how much you could bring back. I believe the limit on value of goods purchased overseas for U.S. citizens returning from Europe is $400. If you've bought more than that, you have to "declare" it and go through the "to declare" side of things at customs at your first airport within the U.S. (i.e., if you come back from Frankfurt to Chicago but land in New York first, you go through customs and all that in NY and then don't deal with it at all in Chicago).

Odds are you won't buy more than $400 worth of stuff unless you're really buying pricey things or buying for a lot of people. Don't worry too much about it--I've never sat down and totaled receipts for everything, just made a rough estimate. ("Three sweaters in Galway, the jewelry in Dublin, souvenirs from Newgrange, a hat from the Aran Islands, that's about $175.") They don't expect you to put down figures to the penny; I usually round it off to the nearest $10 to $25.

I've only ever been stopped once, and it wasn't at customs, actually, but at security in Heathrow. I was traveling with a wrapped package in my carry-on luggage (Liberty's had wrapped up some Penhaligon's perfume for my mom), and that apparently caused me to get some serious scrutiny both at general security screening and at the smaller security screening Virgin did at our gate. They both went through my carry-on bags pretty thoroughly and patted me down; frankly, it made me feel a bit safer.
 
Old Sep 29th, 2000, 06:55 AM
  #10  
Kay
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Thank you all for your wonderful, helpful information. I understand what to do a lot better now. It sounds like shipping packages home is the easiest way to go, (considering time and my back.) I just need to relax now and enjoy. Thank you, again.
 
Old Sep 29th, 2000, 07:05 AM
  #11  
kay
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P.S. Gordon, thank you very much for the airport info. That was the area I was concerned about the most. And you are right about the import of illegal items....unless pacifiers and diapers are considered contraband. Are there "green" lanes for travel by train, bus or auto from EU country to EU country? Do we go through customs at each border?
 
Old Sep 29th, 2000, 08:03 AM
  #12  
Sjoerd
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There is no customs (customs = for your luggage) when travelling between EU countries. At airports, there is a special blue EU lane. At land borders, you just drive on.
There is no immigration (immigration = for yourself) between Schengen countries, Schengen countries are Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italy and Greece.
So when travelling between these countries, you don't even stop at the border.
 
Old Sep 29th, 2000, 08:11 AM
  #13  
Gordon R
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Border controls on land borders within Europe do vary depending on what countries your passing between. This is where it gets a little complicated - at the risk of causing further confusion I'll try to answer.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain are all part of the Schengen agreement, so (at least in theory) there are virtually no border controls if you pass directly between any two of these countries by air, road, train or sea.

Nevertheless, France, invoking internal security reasons, has decided to use the safeguard clause of the Treaty, allowing the temporary continuation of passport controls on its borders with Belgium and Luxembourg.

The UK (and several other EU nations) are not part of "Schengenland", so you will encounter the same border controls between the UK and other European countries.

Where border controls are conducted on land routes, it's usually no more than a perfunctory check of your passport on the train or through your car window at the border.

Have a great trip.
 

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