Rules explained for shopping in exchanges in Germany
March 1, 2012
HEIDELBERG, Germany -- U.S. forces stationed outside Germany are not normally allowed to shop at the exchanges and commissaries in Germany, say military customs officials. But, they noted, that there are exceptions.
"Active duty service members and U.S. civilian employees who are based in countries like Belgium, the Netherlands or Italy can shop at U.S. facilities in Germany if they are on [temporary duty], leave or pass," said Fred Evans, chief of Customs Services at U.S. Forces Customs--Europe.
These shoppers must have their TDY orders with them to use facilities there, he added. U.S. forces personnel in Germany on leave or pass must carry documentation that identifies their duty stations in Europe or North Africa when shopping at U.S. military retail facilities in Germany.
Family members can also travel to Germany and shop in an exchange or commissary without sponsors, as long as they carry a copy of the orders assigning their sponsors to Europe or North Africa.
Customs officials pointed out, however, that dependents of U.S. personnel on TDY to Germany from locations other than Europe or North Africa are not authorized shopping privileges in Germany.
"Duty and tax-free shopping is a very important benefit to U.S. personnel stationed in a high-cost country like Germany," Evans said. "But one condition of that privilege is that we limit access to the sales facilities to authorized personnel."
In Germany, the use of U.S. facilities is based on the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. It specifies military tax-free facilities are designated for the sole use of members of the military forces, federal civilian employees and other personnel with SOFA status, and their authorized dependents, while they are stationed in Germany.