One of our readers, Boris Kupesic, sought clarification from Zoll headquarters about what he should do when carrying a musical instrument into Germany. Here’s what he was told.
Below please find some guidelines for the (temporary) import of music
instruments into the EU/Germany. For you the first section applies.
During the customs declaration the travelers may be asked to show
their instruments (e.g. to open the violin case). But the instruments
will not be improperly handled by the officers.
Instruments for professional use:
The instruments can be imported under the procedure of temporary
admission, free of import duties.
The temporary admission may be used by residents from outside the EU,
who return with their instruments to a place outside the EU;
citizenship is not relevant.
You (or a representative) may declare the goods for “temporary
admission” according to articles 569 of Regulation (EEC) No. 2454/93.
You have two options.
Temporary admission by oral declaration
Usually, the declaration for portable professional equipment can be
made orally when passing the RED exit at the airport.
In addition you should provide an informal document stating the
a) name and adress
b) usage of the instruments during stay
c) customary and/or technical labeling of the instrument,
d) suggested way of proper identification (e.g. pictures, serial
numbers) of the instrument,
d) timelimit of re-export,
e) suggested office fort he re-export (airport for return trip),
f) place of usage during stay,
g) suggested requirements for transportation (violin case)
Nevertheless the customs office MAY ask for a written declaration
(form 0747) and a deposit equivalent to the potential duty and tax
(for a violin: 3.2% duty plus 19% import VAT).
Temporary admission with formal declaration (ATA carnet)
For the import and export declaration you may use an ATA carnet issued
by an association in the third country you are coming from. The
associations that issue ATA carnets and their costs may be found on
http://www.iccwbo.org/ATA/id2965/index.html. No additional deposit is
An ATA carnet is the easiest way to apply for temporary admission.
But you may also apply for it with a Single Administrative Document
(SAD; Form 0747), which also has to state place and period of use in
Germany. A deposit is obligatory (equivalent to the potential amount
of import duty and tax on the imported goods).
When re-exporting the items you need an electronic export declaration
(e.g. on www.ausfuhrplus.internetzollanmeldung.de) and the
“Verwendungsschein” (Form 0790, issued at import).
Please note: These imort and export declarations are to be made in
You may use photos of the picture for identification purposes if no
other identification is suitable (like customs seals) when using an
ATA carnet or when using the SAD to apply for temporary admission.
Instruments for private use/ no professional use/ holidays etc.
Travellers, who have their normal place of residence outside the
European Union, may import their personal belongings -including
musical instruments- in temporary admission, i.e. free of duty and
tax. Of course the goods have to be re-exported.
Normally the declaration may be made by just passing the green exit at
the airport. Nevertheless the customs office MAY ask for a written
declaration (form 0747) and a deposit equivalent to the potential duty
and tax (for a violin: 3.2% duty plus 19% import VAT).
Traveling within the EU:
Within the European Union there are no customs checks. So neither a
declaration in the red exit nor an ATA carnet is necessary.
Coming from abroad as an EU resident with an (abroad) bought
If somebody is or becomes resident of the EU, they have to declare the
instrument in the red exit and usually pay duty and tax.
There are exemptions for
- scholastic material (e.g. students at a music academy in the EU),
- miltary personnel
- persons changing their place of residence (see
There’s also an exemption for returned goods (goods from the EU which
have been outside for less than 3 years and have not been changed)
For legal reasons this information can only be given to the best of
our knowledge and is non-binding.
Informations- und Wissensmanagement Zoll
(Information and Knowledge Management section of the German customs
Central information unit
Enquiries in English: