After a long time and many interventions from all sides, the requirement for flights from Switzerland to the EU to first fly to an official airport with customs clearance has been abolished. What has long been true for pedestrians, cyclists, train and car travelers has also arrived in general aviation: entry and exit without unnecessary formalities. The change itself was already decided at European level two years ago (see Union Customs Code (UCC) of the European Union (EU) Article 2 paragraph 141 letter d), but it took a long time - at least in Germany - for this change to become part of everyday life to implement. But who said that administrative work is quick? The main thing is that it is implemented and just right for the 1 flying season.

What is new is that when flying to Germany we can generally fly to all German airports, provided and to the extent that we are not carrying any goods that are subject to customs clearance. Personal items such as clothes, toiletries or travel souvenirs and the like are duty-free - as you know from the other border crossings. Anyone who carries other goods - e.g. purchases, repairs, etc. above the allowance - must still fly to a customs airport with the red/green canal system and declare the goods there.

A customs officer and pilot from Germany describes it as follows: “In plain language, this means that anyone who is traveling privately and has no goods on board their aircraft that are prohibited or subject to other quantity restrictions does not need to use a customs airport when entering or leaving the country, otherwise they do! But if a customs airport is used (for whatever private or aviation reasons), then you are only considered “through” if you have gone through the green channel or have not made a declaration to customs.

Apparently there is a certain uncertainty as to whether word of the new regulation has already spread to all customs offices and airports in Germany. As an EU rule, the new rules should also apply to Italy, France and Austria. We will continue to stay tuned, clarify this and provide information as soon as we have news from the AOPAs of these countries.

Therefore our recommendations:

  • Take the letter from the German General Customs Directorate linked below with you (printed out or electronically)
  • If you are unsure, fly to a customs airport
  • Flight plans remain mandatory for cross-border flights. As is well known, they do not replace the obligation to fly to a customs airport if dutiable goods are being carried.
  • As a reminder: Schengen and the customs union are not the same thing. Switzerland is a member of the Schengen area, but not the customs union.

And now we wish you a nice 2022 flying season with many nice flights without unnecessary administration.

With warm (duty-free) greetings

Your AOPA Switzerland