Why plants, animals, and artifacts can become especially expensive

Animals, plants and monuments
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What weird travel gifts can get expensive

Bringing a plant or fruit from a long trip? Or do you prefer mussels and snail shells? If you plan to bring souvenirs from your vacation, you should familiarize yourself with the import regulations. Otherwise, there may be problems when arriving at the airport.

Those returning from travel should generally avoid exotic souvenirs from their vacation. Not only do stuffed crocodiles cause problems at customs when they enter Germany, but also more obscure objects such as shells, corals, snail shells or exotic plants. Certain medicines or cosmetics may also not be imported and exported without further ado.

Some plant or animal preparations are protected, and therefore it is not permissible in any way to export them from the country of origin. Bringing supposedly harmless souvenirs like plants, fruits and seeds from holiday trips outside the European Union can, when in doubt, bring travelers more trouble than happiness. This is not always allowed and can quickly become costly, according to the Gießen Regional Council’s Plant Protection Service. The appropriate checks are carried out by the staff at Frankfurt Airport.

In order to avoid fines and destruction of the plants they brought with them, travelers should familiarize themselves with the import regulations in detail. Because there are special regulations for the import of many plants and plant parts aimed at preventing the import of pests or plant diseases. One fruit can contain several dozen larvae or fruit flies, which can spread further. This can have severe consequences for the environment and agriculture.

However, there are exceptions to five fruits in terms of their import and export: pineapple, coconut, dates, durian and banana can be brought without a health certificate.

It should be clear in advance that exotic animals such as cobras and live turtles in glass containers or cosmetics such as rheumatic plasters made of tiger bones cannot pass through customs. Few people know that mussels, corals or snail shells can also cause problems at customs. Because if the imported animal is a protected species, there is a risk of high fines or even criminal prosecution. By the way, this applies even to sand if it is in a nature reserve, for example. An accurate list of animals and plants subject to species protection around the world can be found on the website artenschutz-online.de of the German Customs Administration and the Federal Agency for Nature Protection (BfN).

Tourists should be equally careful when buying supposed deals. Many branded products are counterfeited abroad and offered at very cheap prices. This ranges from Adidas to Lacoste to Gucci and Prada. Importing these counterfeit products is a criminal offense and will be punished with high fines.

Particular caution should also be taken with antiques or cultural and historical items. Even within Europe, export regulations vary here. In Poland, for example, old books, artwork and paintings dating from before 1945 cannot be exported without prior permission from the Polish authorities. Turkey and Greece are particularly strict when it comes to protecting cultural assets. The acquisition, possession and export of antiques can be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years. What many vacationers don’t know: Turkey’s export ban also applies to antiques, fossils, coins, and hewn stones.

If you want to avoid hassle at customs when entering or leaving the country, you should find out in advance the applicable law from the customs authorities and, for example, have a certificate or at least a receipt issued when buying handicrafts. These official approvals are only issued by the authority responsible for them, but not by a dealer. However, in case of doubt, you should do without the souvenir of the holiday and take a photo or other photo.

Here is the photo gallery: These holiday souvenirs are subject to customs penalties

(Goku/dpa)

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