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Taking Insect Collection Into Schengen (Austria)  
User currently offlineduke From Canada, joined Sep 1999, 1155 posts, RR: 2
Posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 1313 times:

I will soon be returning to Europe to teach English in Prague. I will not be flying there directly, but will be entering the Schengen zone through the Vienna airport. An issue I am thinking of: I collect insects. During the year that I have been back in Canada, I caught some butterflies and other bugs in the Toronto area. No endangered species, nothing on any of the "red lists", just some common local insects. I plan to take these with me in my luggage (let's say, in two small boxes inside a suitcase, with each specimen wrapped unspread in folded paper triangles). What I would like to know is:

-is there any customs law against importing this to Austria/the Schengen zone?

-can I expect my luggage to be opened at Austrian customs (it never was subject of the random searches at Czech customs in the past)?

-am I supposed to volunteer information about these insects if they ask if I have anything to declare?

-what could happen if they find it and I haven't declared it? Nothing? Confiscation? Fines? Being sent back to Canada?

In case anyone knows. I do plan on e-mailing Austrian customs about this, but don't know if I'll get an answer so am asking here too.

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinesomething From United Kingdom, joined May 2011, 1633 posts, RR: 21
Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 1282 times:

You should not expect any issues. You can only bring 3 dead sea horses though lol

http://english.bmf.gv.at/Customs/_start.htm



..sick of it. -K. Pilkington.
User currently offlineGeezer From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 1479 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 1265 times:

Duke;

While I have "zero" knowledge of Austrian customs, I do have some "ideas" on "human nature"; all people who are in the business of checking travelers at airports, International borders, etc. have many things "in common"; they all tend to be suspicious, serious, "unfriendly", and extremely quick to "pick up on" ANYTHING that is "out of the ordinary", or is something they personally have no knowledge of,( or interest ) in. ( human nature )

The mere fact that probably no more than one passenger in every 50,000 travels with a collection such as yours, certainly doesn't make you "unusual", "wrong", ( or anything else "negative" ). But I must tell you, to these kinds of people, it will make you "statistically different" than the last 50,000 people they have "checked"; that is all it takes to arouse their "suspicion" ! So, you are very wise in "looking ahead" and taking any steps you can to "lessen" these suspicions.

First, I would not mention the word "bug"; to most people, it arouses "negativity"; ( again, human nature )
Next, any time I'm doing anything that I think may seem to anyone watching, as being "less than ordinary", I always try to have a "cover story" ready.........something that leads the "suspicious" customs agent's "suspicious mind" back to "ordinary"
For example, I wouldn't say, "oh, I collect insects"........I would say, "you see, I'm a teacher; I teach entomology to my students in Europe, and I have these "specimens" which I have collected in North America, and which are quite rare or non-existent in Europe, and of course, they ARE ever so "fragile".............so you are leading the suspicious mind back to "ordinary", and placing yourself in a more "admired group", namely a teacher: everyone "admires" teachers !
At the same time, you are very politely letting him know that your "specimens" are fragile, they have great "value", and they must be handled with great care !

While all this is going on, I would be quite "pleasant" ( but not overly "cheerful" ); serious, and above all, I would "exude confidence". ( it's really all about human nature ! ) Confident people have nothing to hide; nervous people on the other hand, "inspire" suspicion ! ( And believe me, Customs agents are "masters" at "reading people" ! )

I really think it's a good idea to do or say anything "upfront" that I have these "specimens"; ( not butterflies, not bugs, but "specimens"........."valuable specimens" to be used in teaching entomology to students. Its all about "helping young people to learn"........

From the time I was quite young, I was very interested in reptiles; in any "group", you mention the word "reptile", 99% of people think "snakes" ! I don't have to tell you how many people view snakes; I learned early on, you must be very knowledgeable about snakes, and why they are so beneficial to people, how they go about their lives, and why they are totally undeserving of the very negative "reputation" they have been given. When I was in my 20's, I was asked to give a "lecture" on snakes and lizards to a group of young children; I had a few common harmless "specimens", a small crocodile from Asia, and a copperhead, ( which are very "pretty", colorfully marked, and rather mildly venomous)
You CAN lead people's minds in the direction you choose, if you have knowledge, and you can "put aside" their fears.
Learning how to "impart knowledge" and to "control the situation" while lecturing people about reptiles taught me a lot about human nature.

So from now till you return to Europe, you will be thinking, " I'm a teacher, I help young people learn, I need these "specimens" to help my students learn about entomology. When you reach the Austrian border, you will be CONFIDENT! ( And I predict they will treat you like a teacher, and not like a "suspicious person" !

Good luck, Duke !

Charley



Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein
User currently offlinesomething From United Kingdom, joined May 2011, 1633 posts, RR: 21
Reply 3, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 1252 times:

What is with all the ''quotation marks''? haha

But you should not worry about the customs too much. If they're legal to bring along, they're legal to bring along. If you want to be on the safe side, send their customs department an email, print it out and should you run into problems (which I doubt), show the officers the email and tell them confidently that none of these insects are endagered species and fall under no protection.

They are more interested in living animals, drugs and little Chineses importing suitcases full of bootlegged products than a few dead bugs.



..sick of it. -K. Pilkington.
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9097 posts, RR: 29
Reply 4, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 1236 times:

Quoting Geezer (Reply 2):
n common"; they all tend to be suspicious, serious, "unfriendly", and extremely quick to "pick up on" ANYTHING that is "out of the ordinary", or is something they personally have no knowledge of,( or interest ) in. ( human nature )

he says that he travels to Austria., not to the USA..

Now, Schengen has nothing to do with that, you enter the Schengen zone froma third coiunmtry which means you have to clear customs. Check with the Austrian embassy 8or the German, since the custoims statute is the same) what to do. Getting a statement from a Canadian scientific institute might be a good idea, since the customs officer , in case you are checked, cannot knwo whether the species are endangered or not.,

Just walking through the green channel might solve the problem, however, if they stop you you should be prepared. In most airports, allluggage from third countris is usually x-rayed before it goes on the belt. You should be aware of that as well. So, call the embassy in Ottawa and get their advise.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineduke From Canada, joined Sep 1999, 1155 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 1066 times:

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 4):
Just walking through the green channel might solve the problem, however, if they stop you you should be prepared. In most airports, allluggage from third countris is usually x-rayed before it goes on the belt. You should be aware of that as well. So, call the embassy in Ottawa and get their advise.

I was thinking about the x-ray thing. As I said, all the specimens are in boxes (I plan to put them into one box), usually individually wrapped in small triangles of paper. I was wondering if during an x-ray check, they could see all the little triangles through the box and mistake them for drugs? Which gets me thinking - if you don't want them to see inside the box and get suspicious and open my luggage, what material would make it impossible to see inside the box? Metal? Plastic? Cardboard? On the other hand, if they just see a little "box" and can't see in it, could that make them suspcious and make them open my luggage?


User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9097 posts, RR: 29
Reply 6, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 1064 times:

Don't make them even more suspicious. Contact the embassy, Or ask the toronto zoo for advise and if they can give you a paper or statement that the species do not fall under the washington agreement. I'd do both.

If you declare it on arrival without scientific backing you cannot trust that the customs inspector is an expert. He will likely keep the collection for clarification. If you go through the green channel and they stop you you are in more trouble, because by stepping over the line at the green channel you have made a customs declaration.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineduke From Canada, joined Sep 1999, 1155 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 1039 times:

I sent an e-mail to the Austrian customs authorities and got a prompt answer. This is in brief what I was told:

-If there are no CITES red list specimens, it is legal to bring them, as long as they pass "veterinary law".

-Regarding whether they pass "veterinary law", I am to e-mail those customs officials who deal with this (E-mail was provided)

-For entry by air, the collection need not be declared, if its value does not exceed 430 EU (I don't think my collection is worth more than $40-50, even that may be an exaggeration).

So it would seem to be OK, I just need to check with the people who deal with the "veterinary law"...


User currently offlinesomething From United Kingdom, joined May 2011, 1633 posts, RR: 21
Reply 8, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 1033 times:

Quoting duke (Reply 7):
I sent an e-mail to the Austrian customs authorities and got a prompt answer. This is in brief what I was told:

Welcome to Europe man  



..sick of it. -K. Pilkington.
User currently offlineAustrianZRH From Austria, joined Aug 2007, 1358 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 879 times:

Quoting duke (Thread starter):
I plan to take these with me in my luggage (let's say, in two small boxes inside a suitcase, with each specimen wrapped unspread in folded paper triangles).

Checked or carry-on? Because for checked bags customs[/i) checks will be in PRG rather than VIE (assuming you have a connecting flight and are not planning on taking train/rental car/bus to the Czech Republic), you won't even see them in VIE. However, as you're entering the Schengen zone in VIE, [i]immigration controls will be there. And just to be warned: expect the about most unfriendly immigration officers of the world in VIE, right on par with CDG. Never had such grumpy people in any other country in the world...



WARNING! The post above should be taken with a grain of salt! Furthermore, it may be slightly biased towards A.
User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 10, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 871 times:

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 4):

Now, Schengen has nothing to do with that, you enter the Schengen zone from a third country which means you have to clear customs. Check with the Austrian embassy 8or the German, since the customs statute is the same) what to do. Getting a statement from a Canadian scientific institute might be a good idea, since the customs officer , in case you are checked, cannot know whether the species are endangered or not.,

You seem to be doing fine. On the basis of the fun and games I have getting rocks sent to me past our quarantine:
1. Make out a list of what you have, item by item. You may already have a catalogue and if you do not it sounds a bit as if you should have!!!
2. Use the formal Latin names. This is probably how they will be known on CITES lists and informal names differ in various countries.
3. In the catalogue, list the place where caught if this is known or name and address of dealer if bought.

With rocks, our lot need to know they are from deeper than 2 m (they think that gets them clear of surface contamination) but if you do not give the exact depth, they go into a tizz. Excessive detail will get you past every time. Be extremely helpful.


User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 11, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 870 times:

System crashed and did a double while my back was turned, apologies, though not my fault, I thought it was the greeen channel yr honour.

[Edited 2011-08-05 08:45:17]

User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9097 posts, RR: 29
Reply 12, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 868 times:

What I overlooked, resp. what was not clear in your initial post, do you immediately continue on a connecting flight from VIE to PRG or do you stay in VIE first? In case of a direct transfer your bags are indeed transferred as well and entry into the EU is at PRG. Customs officers can spot transit baggage by the tags. Third country tags have black stripes whereas Schengen baggage has green stripes.


E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
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