Sending Mail to Germany

Everyone loves a care package, but knowing what to send can prove difficult.  The list of prohibited items provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) is kind of strange and contains items you probably weren’t going to send anyway.  More important are the everyday items, for which the recipient may have to pay customs or value-added tax (VAT) or both, once the package arrives.  The DHL shipping company offers nice, clear guidelines in English for senders.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • In general, if you could purchase something within the EU that is comparable to the item you are sending, you will pay customs on it.  That is, after all, the whole point.
  • It doesn’t matter if you bought something new to ship, or if you already own it (like the bulky winter coat you didn’t want to pack); you may still have to pay customs on it.
  • Don’t send anything made of fabric.  You will most likely pay customs on textiles.
  • If a medication is available for legal purchase in Germany, and you have someone mail it to you, you will pay customs on it.

Links to some helpful information:

  • USPS Conditions and Prohibited Items for Mailing to Germany here.
  • DHL Customs Information here.
  • German Customs Conditions for Items Sent from Non-EU countries here.

Finally, if anyone has any helpful information to add to this page, please share!

Note: One of the founding principles of the European Union is the “free movement of goods and people,” meaning items sent within the EU have different guidelines.  Know anyone traveling from the US to the EU?


4 Responses to Sending Mail to Germany

  1. kathleen says:

    The funniest item on the USPS prohibited list: “Playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped.” Um…

  2. gwenness says:

    The only way I found to get around German Customs fees (and sometimes even mail boxes they didn’t open) was by using a huge, black magic marker and covering all box sides with hearts and “I LOVE YOU” “I MISS YOU,” obnoxiously. I always included a card and little love notes on each item, which seemed to satisfy the DE Post that the items weren’t for resale. This is a bit awkward when I tell my friends what to do, but 9 times out of 10 it works 😉

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