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Postal traffic

Postal traffic means the transportation of goods by any of the postal administrations of the European Community; in Austria this is Österreichische Post AG. If goods are imported via postal traffic from third countries or exported via postal traffic out of the European Community, respectively, there are special regulations for customs clearance.

Import

In the case of consignments accompanied by a duly completed customs declaration (postal forms CN22 or CN23), upon presentation by Österreichische Post AG to the customs authorities the release for free circulation (i.e. customs clearance of the goods) is deemed to have been applied for. This regulation applies only to duty-free goods that are not subject to any prohibitions or restrictions on imports; however, for commercial goods (i.e. dispatch not private-to-private) only up to a total value of € 22 per consignment.

In the absence of such a customs declaration and if the consignment is not accompanied by any other documents containing the required information, if the value limit is exceeded in the case of commercial goods, or if the goods are subject to special formalities, Österreichische Post AG shall notify the consignee by requesting the necessary cooperation in customs clearance and the transmission of the required documents. Where the goods are to undergo a customs treatment other than customs clearance, a formal customs declaration must in any event be submitted.

Payment of duties and taxes

The customs administration requires Österreichische Post AG to pay the import duties, which Österreichische Post AG will then bill to the consignee upon delivery of the consignment; the notification of the customs debt amount received by the consignee upon delivery of the consignment is deemed to be a tax assessment notice.

Export of Union goods

If Union goods are to be exported to a third country via postal traffic, the goods can be handed over to Österreichische Post AG (short: Post) up to a total value of € 1,000 without prior customs clearance, provided that they are not subject to prohibitions or restrictions on export.

A formal export declaration is required in any case for goods whose total value exceeds € 1,000, or irrespective of their value if they are subject to prohibitions or restrictions on export. This means that when the consignment is handed in at the post office or at a postal partner’s, either the consignment has already been cleared at the responsible export customs office and the corresponding export certification document is presented or – if offered by the post office – the export clearance is arranged by the Post.

In the case of delivery of already cleared export consignments to the Post, the export certification document confirming that the goods have been accepted by the Post is also to be presented to the latter. Together with the export  certification document confirmed by the Post and the corresponding dispatch note, the customs exit confirmation can be requested from the competent customs office.

Duty-free shipping of goods to Austria

Whenever you receive a parcel, the customs rules and formalities are as a rule determined by whether you are sending it from a Member State of the European Union (EU country) or from a non-EU country.

Important: It makes no difference to the exemption from duty whether your parcel is transported or delivered by the Post or other services. However, the distinction is (currently still) important for the customs formalities. 

Which consignments of goods from non-EU countries are duty-free?

Duty exemptions exist for consignments of goods from non-EU states. No import VAT needs to be paid for shipments up to a value of € 22. No customs duty needs to be paid for shipments up to a value of € 150. The shipment must be sent directly from a non-EU country to a recipient in the EU. The sender may also be e.g. a trading company (see also Internet Shopping).

For private gift consignments, duty exemption even applies up to a value of € 45. Private gift consignments are consignments of goods from one private individual from a non-EU country to another private individual in the EU if they are

  • performed occasionally, 
  • consist exclusively of goods for personal use and do not, by their nature and quantity, give rise to a presumption of importation for commercial purposes, and
  • received by the recipient without any payment.

This exemption does not apply to consignments from the island of Heligoland.

To which goods do exceptions apply?

In general, the following applies: No import prohibitions or restrictions must preclude the importation.

In the case of consignments up to a value of € 22, the duty exemption does not apply to alcoholic products, tobacco and tobacco products, perfumes and eau de toilette.

In case of private gift consignments (up to € 45), the following maximum amounts apply:

Tobacco products

50 cigarettes or

25 cigarillos (cigars with a unit weight of no more than 3 grams) or

10 cigars or

50 grams of smoking tobacco or

a prorated assortment of these goods

For products of the category "tobacco for heating" the duty-free limit applies up to a total value of 45 Euro per consignment.

Alcoholic beverages

1 litre of distilled beverages and spirits with more than 22 % v/v, undenatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80 % v/v or

1 litre of distilled beverages and spirits, aperitifs made from wine or similar beverages up to 22 % v/v; sparkling wines, liqueur wines

or a prorated assortment of these goods

and in addition

2 litres of non-foaming wines 

Perfume 

50 grams

Eau de toilette 

0.25 litres

Important: These maximum quantities apply within the € 45 limit. This means that it is not possible, for example, to receive 200 cigarettes duty-free by post from a non-EU country, even if the value of the goods is less than € 45.

What about baggage sent ahead or on?

If you send ahead baggage to your holiday destination in Austria or from your holiday destination outside the EU to Austria in advance or have it sent on to your holiday destination in Austria or from your holiday destination outside the EU to Austria, the provisions on shipping goods also apply. Please note that for private shipments (value of goods up to € 45), the sender and the recipient must not be the same person.

An exception exists only for checked baggage that you have checked in upon your departure as baggage with the transport company with which you personally enter Austria or the EU. You can learn more about this from your rail or air transport company.

What should I pay attention to when sending goods from abroad?

There is no provision for duty-free mail order sales of alcohol and alcoholic products.

There is a general ban on trade in tobacco products (including snuff and chewing tobacco) due to the Austrian Tobacco Monopoly Act. The Austrian Tobacco Tax Act likewise prohibits mail order sales of tobacco products. This means that ordering of tobacco products via the internet or other means of distance communication such as telephone, teleshopping, email and the like is prohibited. This applies both to purchases from non-EU states and to purchases from EU states. 

Note: For tobacco products ordered and delivered abroad, the tax liability arises in Austria, whereby the acquirer becomes the tax debtor in addition to the mail-order company. A prohibited order may result in financial criminal proceedings.

Community territory under VAT law (§ 1 III 3 of the Austrian Value Added Tax Act 1994, point 146 et seq. of the Austrian Value Added Tax Guidelines 2000)

The Community territory under VAT law is identical neither with the area of application of the EEC Treaty nor with the customs territory of the EU.

The Community territory comprises the following:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (including Monaco), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including the Balearic Islands), Sweden, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including the Isle of Man).

Third-country territory comprises all territories that do not form part of the Community territory. International waters are also part of the third-country territory.

Third-country territory includes the following:

Andorra, Mount Athos, Büsingen, Campione d’Italia, Ceuta, the Faroe Islands, Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Gibraltar, Greenland, Heligoland, the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), the Canary Islands, Livigno, Lake Lugano, Melilla, San Marino, and the Vatican.