Thursday, January 18, 2024

Flying into MUC, Bringing in My Personal AP... Please Mr. Custom's Man, Don't You Check My Bag

Okay, cute and snappy title, huh? And yes, it is a bit sarcastic. BUT, the sarcasm is actually directed at the situation, not Mr. Schwarzenegger.

For those of you few watch enthusiasts around the world who slept the last 48 hours, here's a quick link from the Guardian -

Courtesy of (Arnold Schwarzenegger was held at Munich airport after failing to declare an expensive watch. Portions of this image were obscured by the source before CNN obtained it.)

Now let's dive right in, shall we? Essentially, Mr. Schwarzenegger was transiting through Munich Airport en route to Kitzbuhel, Austria where he was scheduled to auction off his AP watch with the proceeds to his climate crisis charity.
The statement from the customs folks in Germany was that Mr. Schwarzenegger failed to declare the watch, further that it was an "import", and thus subject to tax. Now this is a point that I am actually in agreement with. If the contention of the tax man is that because the watch was coming into the EU, and would be sold in the EU (albeit for altruistic reasons)
and would therefore be taxable, then fair enough. 

But where (from my naive, American perspective) things got a little goofy was the stern statement from the customs office as cited from the Guardian's article:

A customs spokesperson told Sueddeutsche Zeitung: “If the goods remain in the EU, you have to declare them through customs. This applies to everyone, whether their name is Schwarzenegger or Müller, Meier, Huber.”

Not really sure what the snark from the customs spokesperson was in aid of, because by all accounts, Mr. Schwarzenegger cooperated completely, did not make a fuss or pitch a fit even though the efforts to collect the pre-payment of taxes and fines went more than a bit sideways...

Per CNN's coverage:
The actor agreed to pre-pay potential taxes on the watch and the officers failed to use a credit card machine for an hour until they gave up and brought him to a bank and asked him to withdraw cash from an ATM to pay, according to the source. The ATM they brought him to had a limit too low and the bank was closed.

When he returned, a new officer brought a new credit card machine that worked, the source added.

Now by and large, I am a rule follower. And I understand and respect that when we travel, we are guests in someone else's home. I also understand that many of my European colleagues have one mode of behavior at home, and a different one when abroad - as do we all, I suspect. 

So we've all learned something... maybe... 
We will likely never fully know the nuance or even letter of the law of ever country we may visit, but when it comes to watches, probably best to simply wear a Swatch and avoid the headaches.

Enjoy your home ; )

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