Tobacco & Liquids Seized by German Customs

German Customs Lawyers

Tobacco & Liquids Seized by German Customs

German Customs Lawyers

With significant changes to German law relating to tobacco and similar products, there have been increased problems facing those looking to bring such products into Germany. Dealing with seizures by customs can be a major challenge, and our lawyers are here to help you.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we are familiar with such cases and will provide you with leading service and clear advice during difficult times. If you require our services, please do not hesitate to contact our team directly.

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Smuggling: Legal Defences

Charges of “smuggling” can be lain at the feet of anyone travelling where the authorities believe they are trying to evade import duties on transported goods in travel. Often such goods are in the personal luggage of the person responsible, and the goods are intended for personal use. Such “smuggling” occurs for those looking to bring tobacco or shisha liquid from other countries without correctly declaring it.

However, if the person is smuggling such products for a commercial purpose, this can be held as a reason for stricter sentencing in the case that the person is found guilty of the offence. Regarding commercial purposes, it should be noted that cigarettes and tobacco products cannot be brought easily from the other EU Member States into Germany. The proper paperwork needs to be completed. When bringing in these products, German revenue stamps are required, as, without them, the German authorities can seize them.

Regarding travelling within the European Union, 1000g of tobacco can be imported for personal use without significant problems. However, when coming from outside the EU, a person may only bring in significantly less duty-free. However, it is essential to declare this tobacco when entering Germany, which involves choosing the red exit at customs. During this process, it is advisable to have your purchase receipts ready; otherwise, customs will determine a reference value for how much you paid for the tobacco.

Not using the red exit, and instead attempting to use the green exit, can leave you open to the accusation of smuggling and attempted tax fraud. Customs officials can bring charges against you and place a penalty on you. At this point, it is strongly advised to consult with our customs lawyers, especially if you face the possibility of being arrested at an airport.

Appealing Against Customs Decisions

Should customs officials decide to seize your goods, our customs lawyers are prepared to examine your case, and make the appeal. Our team will closely analyse the situation and determine the likelihood of a successful claim, ensure that the objections are filed within the deadlines and in the correct manner, thoroughly prepare for the examination of the appeal, including preparing for the opponent’s arguments, and provide full-service legal support with appeals to the tax courts, if necessary.

Appeals against customs decisions need to be conducted appropriately, and those impacted need to consider the deadlines. It is not uncommon for customs officials to incorrectly classify goods, and especially with changes in the law, errors happen.

Investigations by Customs Officials: Legal Advice and Representation

It may emerge that the one of the Customs Investigation Offices (Berlin, Dresden, Essen, Frankfurt a.M., Hamburg, Hanover, Münster and Stuttgart) or another customs office gets involved with the case. These bodies get involved in criminal investigations and they possess legal powers equivalent to the public prosecutor’s office, particularly relating to searching business premises and companies. They have the right to do this under § 102 German Criminal Procedure Code, in cases where there is an initial suspicion of a criminal offence based on a court order.

The consequences of such investigations can be severe as the criminal penalties in customs proceedings are often significantly higher than in “simple” criminal tax proceedings. Additional consequences can include having a conviction under criminal tax law and further consequences under professional or disciplinary law.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers are ready to advise you regarding customs investigations and what is permitted in these cases under the law. Without proper legal advice and support, you may be leaving the door open for the authorities to overly extend what they are permitted to do under German law. Our team has successfully worked alongside clients across Germany in these cases, and will provide you with comprehensive guidance relating to suitable defence strategies based on the circumstances of the case.