Arnold Schwarzenegger Detained At Munich Airport Over Luxury Watch

Arnold Schwarzenegger Detained At Munich Airport Over Luxury Watch

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Yesterday I wrote about how 76-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger was detained at Munich Airport for three hours, following a random inspection at customs that revealed some valuable, undeclared goods. There are now more details about how exactly this unfolded, and it’s an interesting story…

Schwarzenegger detained over luxury watch

Schwarzenegger flew Lufthansa from Los Angeles to Munich on Tuesday, landing at the airport at around 1:40PM on Wednesday. He’s in Europe for the World Climate Summit in Kitzbühel, Austria, and Munich is the closest airport to that (so he was going to leave the airport and drive to Kitzbühel).

According to reports, when Schwarzenegger cleared customs at the airport, he was stopped by officials and asked to open his bags. Presumably the customs officers knew who he was (who doesn’t?), though the claim is that there wasn’t any particular reason for suspicion, but rather it was just a random check.

Schwarzenegger claims he was asked a variety of personal questions as well, including how many children he has, his partner’s name, how much money he has in his bank account, and his net worth. Then upon opening his luggage, customs officials discovered a super rare Audemars Piguet watch. This was a custom watch for Schwarzenegger, belonging to his private collection. Schwarzenegger’s plan was for this watch to be auctioned off before dinner on Thursday, at the official start of the summit, as part of a fundraiser.

Unfortunately this caused some major issues. Not only was Schwarzenegger detained for hours, but he has also faced a significant fine.

Schwarzenegger was detained at Munich Airport for hours

German customs initiating criminal tax proceedings

Customs officials aren’t too happy about Schwarzenegger trying to enter Germany with a valuable watch that wasn’t declared, with a spokesperson for the customs office in Munich stating that they “have initiated criminal tax proceedings,” as “the watch should have been registered because it is an import.”

Obviously you’re allowed to travel to Germany with valuables. The issues is that he had no intent of taking this back to the United States, and therefore it was an import. When you fly to Germany, there are no customs forms you fill out, though you’re supposed to proactively declare any imports, which obviously didn’t happen.

When it comes to the watch, Schwarzenegger apparently claimed it was worth €20,000, though it ended up being valued by customs officials at €26,000. This was then subjected to a tax value of €4,000, plus a penalty of €5,000 for failing to declare it.

Schwarzenegger was then prepared to pay the tax plus the fine, so he handed over his credit card. However, officials said that only half of the amount could be paid by credit card, and the other half had to be paid in cash. So then he had to be escorted to a bank so that he could get the cash needed to pay the fee, as the ATM didn’t allow him to withdraw enough money.

In response to all of this, Schwarzenegger says that “this is the problem that Germany is suffering from, you can no longer see the forest for the trees.” He claims he was just trying to do a good deed, and he was punished for it.

I have to say that one of my biggest takeaways from this is the amount the watch was valued at. A custom Audemars Piguet was valued at “just” €26,000 by customs officials? It sounds to me like he got off easy, and there might be a zero missing there.

Schwarzenegger had just landed from Los Angeles

Bottom line

“Terminator” superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger was detained at Munich Airport for hours on Wednesday. He was reportedly randomly stopped, and officials discovered a valuable Audemars Piguet watch. Schwarzenegger intended to auction this off for a good cause during the World Climate Summit, but failed to follow correct import procedures. He ended up having to pay a total of €9,000, including the standard import tax plus a fine.

What do you make of this situation?

Conversations (89)
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  1. Al Guest

    He better watch out next time he goes to Germany :-)

  2. David Guest

    Good to see that he was treated like any other individual who has to adhere to applicable laws, without any celebrity bonus.

    Try to save a bit of taxes via your tax declaration and you will see the full force of the tax authorities.

    And why they are inspecting celebs a bit more frequent than others is because the likelihood that they carry stuff/cash which is to be declared is much higher. And...

    Good to see that he was treated like any other individual who has to adhere to applicable laws, without any celebrity bonus.

    Try to save a bit of taxes via your tax declaration and you will see the full force of the tax authorities.

    And why they are inspecting celebs a bit more frequent than others is because the likelihood that they carry stuff/cash which is to be declared is much higher. And more often they (the celebs) don’t care about it. So even the Terminator has to declare like any other person. That doesn’t make Germany a country of bureaucrats, but rather shows that there are no exceptions made for the rich and famous.

  3. iamhere Guest

    I think you miss the whole point. They stopped him because of who he was. They may have been even tipped off about the event he was attending and the there are two obvious reasons why they would not let him pay it all on his credit card.

  4. Hans Guest

    Audemars for 26k €? No way.
    This watch was auctioned for charity yesterday for 270,000 €.

  5. Matt Guest

    The watch just auctioned of for EUR 270k, roughly USD 300k.

    I don't see why Arnold shouldn't have to pay import tax on that piece. W/ at least $400M in personal assets, taxation wouldn't bother him.

    But makes a big difference in aid for those less fortunate.

  6. rpearson Diamond

    Is this an EU "duty" on the watch, or is it a German "duty"? It sounded like his destination and place he was going to donate it for the charity auction was in Austria (his birthplace).

    1. DT Guest

      It is called "Zollunion", customs union. Look it up.

    2. Samo Guest

      There's no such thing as German duty the same way there's no such thing as New York or California duty. Germany is part of the Union, it's kinda the point of the whole thing that it operates as a single custom territory. Otherwise you could hardly have the free movement of goods.

  7. AJB Guest

    Not sure why Germany would/could charge an Import Tax when Austria is where the watch is being imported to.
    He would have been in Germany for just a couple of hours as the Austrian border is just two hours drive away from MUC.
    If everybody had to pay duties on the airports they merely transited through, that would be rough. Next time, avoid MUC and fly to VIE…

    1. DT Guest

      See above. Customs union.

    2. Samo Guest

      Because that's where he entered the EU. Not sure what would flying into VIE solve, he would still have to pay the same duty for importing goods in the EU (assuming he would be also selected for the customs check).

  8. Moein Guest

    The reason is that German people are very cultured and law-abiding ! also against luxury . This is because even a famous artist with German roots has been treated badly . Arnold should wear the watch around his wrist and say : Hasta la vista, baby !

  9. R B Guest

    Arnold & Audemars-Piguet (AP) have had a long relationship, going back to the movie 'End of Days' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_of_Days_(film).
    AP created a Royal Oak Offshore specifically for Arnold to wear in that movie.
    So I am not surprised that AP designed other custom-made watches for The Terminator.

  10. GUWonder Guest

    I wouldn’t be surprised if German authorities had a tip-off if he had publicly mentioned he was going to auction off the watch for charity. That or maybe they had scanned the bag before sending it to the baggage belts for pickup by the travelers.

    While it is not surprising that they may have scanned the bag and then sent it out for him to recover it, it’s not very common for orange-tag checked bagged...

    I wouldn’t be surprised if German authorities had a tip-off if he had publicly mentioned he was going to auction off the watch for charity. That or maybe they had scanned the bag before sending it to the baggage belts for pickup by the travelers.

    While it is not surprising that they may have scanned the bag and then sent it out for him to recover it, it’s not very common for orange-tag checked bagged passengers to get pulled over when arriving into MUC from the US for a “random” manual baggage inspection.

    Will the former governor of California become ineligible for Global Entry due to this customs violation in a US CBP partner country?

  11. BX Guest

    Good. Wouldn’t have happened if him and all the other climate fascists didn’t swan around the world and had their meeting on Zoom.

    One rule for the elites, one for the rest of us scum.

  12. Arnold’s illegitimate son Guest

    Good, I wish they would keep him there in Austria. i’m tired of watching him in stupid movies at the Ripe age of 76 as an action hero.

    1. Icarus Guest

      Why are you watching his movies if you don’t like them ?

  13. Kor Guest

    Munich security and custom agents can be a bit of pain in the .... Few years ago I was going through security check when officer decided to take out from the bin my Zippo and just placed aside without saying a word. When I asked him about it he told me I am not allowed to take it on board. I did not argue with him (despite having it with me on numerous flights and...

    Munich security and custom agents can be a bit of pain in the .... Few years ago I was going through security check when officer decided to take out from the bin my Zippo and just placed aside without saying a word. When I asked him about it he told me I am not allowed to take it on board. I did not argue with him (despite having it with me on numerous flights and once even forgot it in the bin at the security on another airport but got it back without any problems). Since it was personal gift and had been specially engraved I did ask him if I can just take the casing and he han throw away the rest. He refused it, and only after few mintue of discussion and talk with his supervisor I managed to get the casing back.

  14. Ethan Guest

    German and Canadian customs are the absolutely worst, shaking down on tourists' beaten up Apple products, just absurd.

    1. Samo Guest

      Apparently you never encountered US CBP if you think German customs (which 99% of the time you won't even notice exist) are the worst.

  15. Jean Guest

    As an anecdote, my husband and I were exploring Vienna when we happened upon a vintage/used watch store where we purchased a watch for me. The owner told us some of the watches for sale were on consignment by Arnold. Makes one wonder…

  16. Ryan Guest

    There's no rule that Germans won't follow you the letter.

    3am, not a car for miles, they'll still stand and wait for permission from the "walk" signal to cross the street.

    I've had my carry-on luggage denied for Lufthansa international 1st class denied because it was .5 kg over the "limit".

  17. Bails from Oz Guest

    Is there any reason to think the USA tax collectors would be less effective in collecting duty than the Europeans?

    1. Antwerp Guest

      The U.S is actually far easier to work with. They are more concerned with large amounts of cash or drugs. CBP agents would not recognize or care about a rare watch, unless you had 20 of them.

      As to other actual antiques, if properly declared with broker paperwork they are duty free into the U.S. Which is why valuable works more often find their way to the American market. It's simple and no one will...

      The U.S is actually far easier to work with. They are more concerned with large amounts of cash or drugs. CBP agents would not recognize or care about a rare watch, unless you had 20 of them.

      As to other actual antiques, if properly declared with broker paperwork they are duty free into the U.S. Which is why valuable works more often find their way to the American market. It's simple and no one will question anything. I am moving valuable objects by container and courier (including with me) to the U.S. and can assure you it is the easiest import market in the world for any antiques of value. In actuality, the hard part is getting things OUT of the EU. Again, showing the bureaucracy of the system. Much of this is due to their wanting to protect items of national interest from leaving when, in fact, the system of placing duties on items that are antique or produced there just encourages them to never come back.

    2. George Guest

      I once declared a watch I had purchased while in Korea to US customs, and they were surprised I had bothered to do so. They said most people just walk out with their stuff. They were so impressed with my honesty that they were going to give me a discount on the duty (though, I think they just didn't want to be bothered with figuring out how much to charge). The first $800 is duty...

      I once declared a watch I had purchased while in Korea to US customs, and they were surprised I had bothered to do so. They said most people just walk out with their stuff. They were so impressed with my honesty that they were going to give me a discount on the duty (though, I think they just didn't want to be bothered with figuring out how much to charge). The first $800 is duty free, then the next $1000 is taxed at 3%. The remainder is taxed at a rate depending on the good being imported. They were going to just tax me at a flat 3%.

      Customs is far more concerned with agricultural imports, especially in California.

      The funny part is that when they went to go get a cashier to collect the money, the cashier wasn't there, so they let me go without paying.

    3. Dusty Guest

      US VAT duty is also generally far less for luxury goods than a lot of places in the US. I've heard numbers as high as 20-30% of the declared value from friends in the UK, Finland, and Chile. Some people will understate the value to try and dodge it, but that can also backfire on you if customs thinks its too low.

  18. Bails from Oz Guest

    The ridiculous thing is he had no need to physically bring a unique artefact into Germany for the auction, the purchaser could have collected it from wherever it is normally stored.

    This is clearly a person who normally doesn't have to think about government and officialdom.

    Oh thats right he was the Governor of one of the largest economies in the world for quite some time.

    1. Antwerp Guest

      You need to understand the auction market. It's far more tactile than you imagine. Virtual sales exist, of course, but for prestigious items the need for touch or sight becomes an important equation in luring in buyers. To see it, feel it, as well to know it is right there for you to take, is a powerful tool in the sales process for items costing hundreds of thousands, and for what you really don't "need."

    2. LarryInNYC Diamond

      And, in this case, I would imagine to receive it directly from Schwarzenegger (with obligation photo) would have value as well.

  19. Andy Diamond

    I think either the charity or he himself will have to pay the duty, depending on when asset has been legally transferred to charity. And the person who purchases the watch in the auction will have to pay duty again, unless the watch stays within the EU.

    1. Alex Guest

      But then u get the duty and vat back when it’s re exported, so comes out in a wash

  20. Mark Guest

    I am German, living in the US. I recall my fellow citizens who are customs officials over there, having a particularly hard baseball bat up somewhere when it comes to fulfilling their 'obligations' ... I am embarrassed and really sorry for 'Arnie' that they are creating such trouble for him ! What a shame !!

    1. NathanJ Diamond

      Genau…was für eine Schande.

    2. Samo Guest

      Poor Arnie not being able to cheat on taxes. What a terrible injustice.

  21. frrp Diamond

    Its his property until its auctioned surely? Doesnt matter if the intent was to auction it, until that point its his.

    German customs can be absolute dicks tho.

    1. Samo Guest

      Yes, it's his property. So what? It's still an import and duty must be paid on it.

    2. Mark Guest

      sounds 'German' to me ;-)

    3. Bails from Oz Guest

      Pretty sure the USA tax collectors would be at least as assiduous in collecting their "dues"

    4. Brooke Guest

      Surprisingly, US customs is not super concerned with collecting duty taxes. It is not at all unusual or unheard of for US customs to not bother collecting duty on declared items. They often don't want to bother with the paperwork and payments. They're already too busy and it just backs them up to have to collect duty. They will get irritated and be more likely to fine you and/or charge duty if you deliberately lie...

      Surprisingly, US customs is not super concerned with collecting duty taxes. It is not at all unusual or unheard of for US customs to not bother collecting duty on declared items. They often don't want to bother with the paperwork and payments. They're already too busy and it just backs them up to have to collect duty. They will get irritated and be more likely to fine you and/or charge duty if you deliberately lie to them about what you have.

      I actually feel like most US customs agents would've been willing to believe this situation with Arnold could be a genuine mistake and thus not have actually fined him even if they did end up needing to collect a duty tax (he may not have realized or understood it needed to be declared since it was being taken to another country and donated).

  22. Luke Guest

    At Munich Airport years ago before getting on a British airways flight I noticed near a security check entrance a couple folks sitting with weight scales and randomly asking people to weigh carry ons that "looked" heavy.

    I was at a distance when noticed these guys so I made sure not to walk near them and made a circular route around front of terminal to get into the security check line from another side...

    At Munich Airport years ago before getting on a British airways flight I noticed near a security check entrance a couple folks sitting with weight scales and randomly asking people to weigh carry ons that "looked" heavy.

    I was at a distance when noticed these guys so I made sure not to walk near them and made a circular route around front of terminal to get into the security check line from another side that didnt have someone like that! My bag probably wouldn't pass and would be forced to pay something!

    1. Andreas Guest

      They did (and most likely still do) the same thing in Vienna at Terminal 3 (Austrian, LH, Swiss). This is ridiculous: as long as you can store your cabin luggage, why bother about its weight?

    2. Kelley P Diamond

      When flying internally in Australia a few years back we went through the exercise of having our carry on bags weighed, it was a major pain to redistribute items to the checked back so the carry on would meet the weight requirements. The whole POINT of my carry on is that that is where I put items that can NOT get lost (my laptop, medications, etc.). It's very aggravating. Honestly most likely a money grab...

      When flying internally in Australia a few years back we went through the exercise of having our carry on bags weighed, it was a major pain to redistribute items to the checked back so the carry on would meet the weight requirements. The whole POINT of my carry on is that that is where I put items that can NOT get lost (my laptop, medications, etc.). It's very aggravating. Honestly most likely a money grab on the part of the airlines. IIRC that was Virgin and maybe Quantas, but Virgin was the worst about it.

    3. Donato Guest

      About 10 years ago this became everyday activity at LH. I was verboten (forbidden) to take my roll on onboard despite it fitting in the frame and meeting weight rules. I lost it and reminded the clerk of WWII and he tried to have me say the German "N" word. I was aware that calling him a NZ would have me arrested.

    4. LarryInNYC Diamond

      I had a backpack denied as a carry-on due to weight in 1984. Not new!

  23. derek Guest

    The charity should pay any duty. The watch was personal property until page auction. Was there a reserve such that it would be possible that Arnold comes back with the watch if there are only low bids?

  24. Lee Guest

    Given that the item was to be donated to a qualified charity (and the charity can verify this intention), the likelihood is that charges will be dropped.

  25. Trey Guest

    All part of the plan; due to the news coverage the auction price probably rose by 500,000€. Pocket change for the terminator to pay the required taxes now!

  26. Antwerp Guest

    I'm in the fine arts field and handle import/export all over the world. While Germany and Austria are by far the worst countries to bring in or out valuable objects (they are bureaucrats to the core), it is really surprising that they inspected his luggage. I would bet they had someone either tip them off or had pre-knowledge he was carrying an item of significant value. Going back and forth via MUC, VIE, and FRA...

    I'm in the fine arts field and handle import/export all over the world. While Germany and Austria are by far the worst countries to bring in or out valuable objects (they are bureaucrats to the core), it is really surprising that they inspected his luggage. I would bet they had someone either tip them off or had pre-knowledge he was carrying an item of significant value. Going back and forth via MUC, VIE, and FRA virtually every few weeks I have never been inspected once over decades as an example.

    Given that the item was being brought over for charity it would have been tax exempt with proper paperwork and filings. But, given the system in Germany, would most likely have taken weeks to be released. The reality is, if he had worn it they never would have said anything. Clearly he had the paperwork and box included which is the alarm for them. He should have shipped those separately and worn the watch over on his wrist.

    Bottom line is in the reality that billions of dollars worth of items, especially jewelry, watches, etc, are moving across borders every year. Few really care. Virtually no one is caught unless overdoing it with continued movement every few days and a suitcase full of them. He was targeted, for whatever reason, probably via a tip. Most likely, given Germany being Germany, he will be subject to a fine and either filing it under a charitable donation (requiring time) or paying the duty on the value.

    Side note, officials at MUC do not mess around, they are nasty. I was arrested at the airport a few years ago because in scanning my luggage (checked) for a flight to LHR they saw my belt by Martin Margiela with a buckle that vaguely resembled brass knuckles. It was clearly not when looking at it. Didn't matter, they were dug in. I was detained, missed my flight, and paid $500 Euros for "attempting to smuggle a dangerous weapon out of Germany." Yes, a belt, lol.

    1. Joern W Guest

      But if you are going back forth between MUC, VIE, and FRA, you're never leaving the customs union. So why do you expect to be inspected in the first place?

      Schwarzenegger arrived from outside of the EU, so he should be checked (I have a batting average of one random check every 20 entries or so for my entries from outside of the EU).

    2. Antwerp Guest

      I am going back and forth between MUC, VIE, and FRA from the U.S and Asia. Sorry if that was not clear.

    3. pstm91 Diamond

      This was a great comment but you say you've never, over decades, been inspected in Germany, and then conclude with how strict they are and how you were arrested at MUC a few years ago because they looked at your bags closely. While I do understand what you're saying, that's quite the contradiction.
      You also say he should have worn the watch. I would think there would be strict instructions against this for a...

      This was a great comment but you say you've never, over decades, been inspected in Germany, and then conclude with how strict they are and how you were arrested at MUC a few years ago because they looked at your bags closely. While I do understand what you're saying, that's quite the contradiction.
      You also say he should have worn the watch. I would think there would be strict instructions against this for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is what if he bumped it on something??

  27. Chris W Guest

    Why didn't he fly a private jet to the Climate Summit?

    It would have been more convenient and no pesky watch inspections.

    1. Icarus Guest

      Yeah right. All the attendees flying private jets You do realise that they also clear the same formalities or do you believe those on private jets are exempt ?

    2. TravelinWilly Diamond

      "Why didn't he fly a private jet to the Climate Summit?"

      Because it's a climate summit, and Ahnold appreciates the irony of flying private to such an event.

    3. Robert Guest

      He’s not Prince Harry, he actually got a brain lol

    4. Shayla Guest

      There's one in every comment section!

  28. Icarus Guest

    Sounds bizarre. People carry very valuable watches and jewellery all the time. They may choose to wear them.

    Furthermore, why was it in checked baggage ? Unless it was in cabin baggage.

    So if someone gave me a gift or I chose to wear a very valuable item including a belt or shoes, I am supposed to declare it ?

    1. Dusty Guest

      If you intend to sell said item(s) in the country you entered, yes. You're importing something to sell. In most countries that means you'd declare the items and pay an import duty.

    2. LarryInNYC Diamond

      If you're bringing the item for personal use and it will leave the country with you, it's generally not subject to duty. But if it's staying in the country (or in the case of the EU, within the union) it's an import and probably subject to duty depending on value and intended use (personal use, commercial use, commercial sample, etc).

      "Customs", which seems to be almost universally misused to mean passport control, is actually entirely...

      If you're bringing the item for personal use and it will leave the country with you, it's generally not subject to duty. But if it's staying in the country (or in the case of the EU, within the union) it's an import and probably subject to duty depending on value and intended use (personal use, commercial use, commercial sample, etc).

      "Customs", which seems to be almost universally misused to mean passport control, is actually entirely concerned with the movement of goods and payment of tax. Every time you pass through customs you're implicitly stating that you're familiar with customs regulations and not carrying anything that requires a declaration.

  29. Greg Guest

    Lucky missed the points and miles angle...

    He was asked to pay a 35,000 euro fine on the spot.

    And he insisted on using a credit card to pay.

    They only allow 50% of a fine to be paid via card, so he was escorted to a bank by an officer to get the remaining cash.

    "Arnie is said to have then agreed to pay the sum by credit card. Another hammer: He wasn't allowed...

    Lucky missed the points and miles angle...

    He was asked to pay a 35,000 euro fine on the spot.

    And he insisted on using a credit card to pay.

    They only allow 50% of a fine to be paid via card, so he was escorted to a bank by an officer to get the remaining cash.

    "Arnie is said to have then agreed to pay the sum by credit card. Another hammer: He wasn't allowed to do that - even though the Hollywood giant has an unlimited limit. Because: 50 percent of the customs fees should be paid in CASH.

    The consequence, which sounds like a bad script: Arnie was accompanied to a bank by an officer. His partner Heather Milligan (49), who accompanied him from Los Angeles to Kitzbühel, was allegedly not allowed to come to the bank, nor was another confidant."

    1. GUWonder Guest

      The ATM withdrawal limits meant he couldn’t take out enough cash to pay the fine on the spot. The German authorities claimed to him that they couldn’t get a credit card processor to work and then eventually got one that worked to charge the rest on the card.

  30. Cedric Guest

    The issue is that the watch isn't coming back with him when he leaves. He is importing it. Technically he would have had to pay the 19% VAT and any duties on the value of the watch. They could also impose penalties for a false declaration... not sure how that works in Germany. He probably assumed that he was giving it away, not selling it, but that doesn'y change anything in this case.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      Then that’s over €100.000 he owes on a million dollar watch.

    2. BigG Guest

      Some miss info here . The watch is valued at 21k us. He declared it and they wanted the duty. Took hours to figure out how to pay it finally he paid by card . As far as I know no penalty no fine just duty which in typical German efficiency took several attempts and hours.

    3. Shayla Guest

      Well hopefully part of the misinformation is the 35k euros paid if the watch was only valued at 21k US

  31. MildMidwesterner Diamond

    Interesting side note: When Arnold was asked to describe his bag he responded, "It's not a Tumi!"

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Good heavens that was awful.

      And by awful, I mean fantastic.

    2. RCB Guest

      I just cackled! I am glad that I am not the only person in the world who gets this obscure reference.

    3. Jem Guest

      I didn't get it...
      Help...

  32. Todd Guest

    If he's on his way to Austria, effectively transiting Germany, why would Germany have a claim to taxes on goods that aren't remaining in Germany?

    I guess we'll wait for more details.

    1. rrapynot Guest

      Because he is entering the Schengen area in Germany. Perhaps Munich is the closest area to his final destination in Austria and he’s heading there by road?

    2. Pogonation Guest

      Because Munich is the easy way to access. Munich to Kitzbuhel is by car and only takes about 1hr45. He will have cleared immigration in Germany with the intent of driving the watch over the border.

    3. Luke Guest

      When you arrive at a country in the Schengen/EU zone, the first point of entry is when theres customs check and any declarations are settled. The travel between Germany and Austria would effectively be like a domestic flight.

    4. Joern W Guest

      No, not really. Whiole the US and many other countries do passport control and customs at the first point of entry, that is not true for the EU. Customs is done at the final airport in the EU. So, if you fly, say, LAX-AMS-MUC, you enter the Schengen area in AMS (that's where you show your passport, and I believe that formally your hand luggage can be checked there), but your luggage is only checked...

      No, not really. Whiole the US and many other countries do passport control and customs at the first point of entry, that is not true for the EU. Customs is done at the final airport in the EU. So, if you fly, say, LAX-AMS-MUC, you enter the Schengen area in AMS (that's where you show your passport, and I believe that formally your hand luggage can be checked there), but your luggage is only checked in MUC. This is why you don't have to pick up and check your luggage in AMS. Customs agents can see whether you come from outside of the EU - baggage tags from within the EU have a green stripe on them.

    5. Samo Guest

      This. Schengen has nothing to do with customs, it only concerns people. You do immigration at the first airport, but customs are only cleared at the final airport. But that seems to have been MUC in this case nevertheless, with continuation of the trip to Austria by land.

    6. Manoel G Guest

      Because within the European Union they have what is called a “customs union”. With Germany and Austria being both member countries, the German customs agents are effectively trying to address the import into the EU, and by extension both Germany and Austria.

    7. DT Guest

      This. “Zollunion”.

      What he had to pay would have been 0.80€ duty (sic!). And 19% tax.

    8. GUWonder Guest

      Indeed, but in other cases there can be particularities involved whereby there are declaration and/or customs control limits for some goods going between EU countries. This can even hit with cash carry across national borders within the EU.

    9. Samo Guest

      Intra-EU duties only apply for alcohol and tobacco. Everything else can be transported freely across member states. This includes cash (cash can also be freely imported and exported of course, it just needs to be declared).

    10. LarryInNYC Diamond

      The European Union is, first and foremost, a customs union. Goods are dutiable on entry and travel freely within the union.

  33. Gerwanese New Member

    Puts him in nice company of the former Chairman of FC Bayern, who was caught with an expensive watch too. ;)
    Of course customs officials can't make exceptions in those cases. Otherwise soon everybody would declare that those rare expensive items are just imported for charity. It's pretty much impossible for customs to track whether the auction is really held and afterwards the money also sent to some officially registered charity.
    I'm just...

    Puts him in nice company of the former Chairman of FC Bayern, who was caught with an expensive watch too. ;)
    Of course customs officials can't make exceptions in those cases. Otherwise soon everybody would declare that those rare expensive items are just imported for charity. It's pretty much impossible for customs to track whether the auction is really held and afterwards the money also sent to some officially registered charity.
    I'm just surprised there was nobody warning him about the issue. Usually someone like Schwarzenegger will have professionals who do trip plannings and organize everything for him. Especially when he's invited to some big event.

    1. Greg Guest

      I'm surprised the charity didn't advise him. I can see him making travel plans, etc in a self reliant way. Or just using his usual travel agent who doesn't really come across these matters / wasn't aware he was bringing the watch.

    2. DT Guest

      Michael Ballack once brought an expensive hand bag back, that he didn’t declare. Maybe the customs officials at MUC are going after celebrities…

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Antwerp Guest

I'm in the fine arts field and handle import/export all over the world. While Germany and Austria are by far the worst countries to bring in or out valuable objects (they are bureaucrats to the core), it is really surprising that they inspected his luggage. I would bet they had someone either tip them off or had pre-knowledge he was carrying an item of significant value. Going back and forth via MUC, VIE, and FRA virtually every few weeks I have never been inspected once over decades as an example. Given that the item was being brought over for charity it would have been tax exempt with proper paperwork and filings. But, given the system in Germany, would most likely have taken weeks to be released. The reality is, if he had worn it they never would have said anything. Clearly he had the paperwork and box included which is the alarm for them. He should have shipped those separately and worn the watch over on his wrist. Bottom line is in the reality that billions of dollars worth of items, especially jewelry, watches, etc, are moving across borders every year. Few really care. Virtually no one is caught unless overdoing it with continued movement every few days and a suitcase full of them. He was targeted, for whatever reason, probably via a tip. Most likely, given Germany being Germany, he will be subject to a fine and either filing it under a charitable donation (requiring time) or paying the duty on the value. Side note, officials at MUC do not mess around, they are nasty. I was arrested at the airport a few years ago because in scanning my luggage (checked) for a flight to LHR they saw my belt by Martin Margiela with a buckle that vaguely resembled brass knuckles. It was clearly not when looking at it. Didn't matter, they were dug in. I was detained, missed my flight, and paid $500 Euros for "attempting to smuggle a dangerous weapon out of Germany." Yes, a belt, lol.

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Dusty Guest

If you intend to sell said item(s) in the country you entered, yes. You're importing something to sell. In most countries that means you'd declare the items and pay an import duty.

6
MildMidwesterner Diamond

Interesting side note: When Arnold was asked to describe his bag he responded, "It's not a Tumi!"

6
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