Paul and Paula Panhauser of Punxsutawney, Penn. could have avoided the mess if they had gotten the proper pieces of information about the E.U. bureaucracy behind customs regulations on arrivial in the European Union.
Well, let's change the scenario of Vol. 2 a bit.
Paula purchased the 4 cartons of cigarettes at the duty free shop near the departure gate at JFK for $98. Paul didn't say anything.
Aboard the Lufthansa plane and gotten acquainted with Peter and Shelly Travelmost of Denver, Colo., they got the info that they are only supposed to import two cartons of cigarettes instead of four. After having had a nice conversation and some drinks of Jack Daniels on the rocks and some glasses of red wine - free of charge with Lufthansa - during the eight-hour-flight to Frankfurt with the Travelmosts, Paul and Paula decided to declare their cigarettes at German customs in Frankfurt.
Behind the immigration booth, they walked through the red channel - but no customs officer was there - but a sign and a button: Anything to declare? Please ring for the officer.
After a short waiting-time of nearly five minutes, a friendly-looking German female customs officer in her green uniform arrived.
Paul showed her the passports.
Female German Customs officer (FGCO): Good day, Mr. and Mrs. Panhauser, how may I help you?
Paul: We'd like to declare two extra cartons of cigarettes, ma'am.
FGCO: Well, no problem, that will cost you German import dues of 60 euros. You may pay with your credit card. Will you please come with me to the customs check-out?
Paul: Sure. And, ma'am, my wife has some jewelry items worth $3.000 in her carry-on luggage. She will carry them on the stay in Germany and take them home, of course. What are we supposed to do?
FGCO: Sir, it would be fine with me if you left here at Frankfurt Airport. You'd rather pay the 60 euros for cigarettes here, you get the customs receipt. Oh, I see you have a connecting flight to Munich. OK, then you should go through the red channel again, show your receipt and declare the jewelry. My customs collegues have discretionary powers to demand a deposit or they let you go without a deposit as I would do here in Frankfurt. It would be better to pay the deposit in Munich if necessary, then you can claim it back there prior to your departure from Munich to New York via Frankfurt, OK?
After having paid 60 euros by credit card to the German federal treasury and about 30 min of procedure time, Paul and Paula got their connecting flight to Munich. On their 40 min hop to Munich, they cheered at each other with a couple glasses of champagne - free of charge on domestic Lufthansa flights - and they arrived on time.
At the German customs there, they declared Paula's jewelry and showed the receipt for the cigarettes, as well as the receipt for the two litres of Glenfiddich Scotch whisky they bought aboard the international Lufthansa flight.
The German customs officer at Munich airport didn't want to have a deposit for Paula's jewelry, everything was fine.
Paul and Paula, in their best mood, were picked up by their relatives after the short stay of 5 min at the customs inspection room.
They enjoyed their 3 week vacation in Bavaria very much, especially the one week on the Bavarian beer trail.
Please read Vol. 1 and 2 beforehand.
Inform yourself about the proper immigration and customs regulations prior to your journey.
Be honest and kind to the German customs people - it'll pay off, believe me.
If you aren't sure always go through the red channel - the German federal service personnel will be helpful and kind to you as well, this is general and official policy toward travelers.