By James Stammerjohan
Chief Inspector for the Wiesbaden Customs Office
In recent years the Defense Commissary Agency received command approval to permit facility entry of people who are not members of the U.S. Forces as long as they are guests of and are accompanied by an authorized shopper.
But such visitors are not allowed to purchase tax- and duty-free merchandise, nor can such merchandise be purchased for these guests by the accompanying sponsor.
Authorized personnel who are unable to shop, such as in the case of a medical disability, may apply for an exception to policy from the Customs Executive Agent NATO SOFA Office requesting approval for an individual normally not authorized store patronage to shop on their behalf. Such requests require written justification and supporting documentation and will be approved or disapproved in writing.
Military Police investigators are assigned to every U.S. Forces Customs Office. One of their primary missions is to survey all U.S. Forces sales facilities in an attempt to combat black-marketing and the illegal transfer of tax-free goods.
Patrons who witness suspected illegal transactions should call the local customs investigators at mil 337-5145/5740 or the Military Police. Each facility is responsible to check the documents of the shopper to ascertain if they are authorized shoppers.
In accordance with Army in Europe Regulation 600-700 and AE Regulation 550-175, the following personnel are authorized to shop in PX/Commissary facilities in Germany:
- active duty military, civilian component personnel and their accompanying dependents assigned to or on TDY in Germany; @ active duty military and their dependents stationed in Europe or North Africa on official leave in Germany;
- active duty military personnel on R&R leave in Germany from Iraq and Afghanistan;
- contractor personnel with technical expert status managed by Department of Defense contractor personnel office in possession of a CAC card indicating the level of support;
- retirees and their accompanying eligible family members and dependents who reside in Germany or visit Germany for at least 30 days may be authorized the use of U.S. Forces sales facilities to purchase non-rationed items with payment of duty to local German customs officials;
- un-remarried widows of military personnel who reside in Germany may also be eligible to shop in the PX and Commissary. For both retirees and widows, presentation of verifying documents and registration at the local U.S. Forces Customs Office and subsequent issuance of a German customs certificate is required.
Both the retiree and widow must present their valid German customs certificates also referred to as their pink cards, stamped by German customs authorities within the last two months of their visit and their ID card to be able to make purchases in the PX and Commissary.
The following personnel are not authorized to shop in PX/Commissary facilities in Germany:
- active duty military and their dependents on leave in Germany from the United States or outside of Europe or North Africa. This also applies to any retiree visiting Germany for less than 30 days and all visiting widows.
- Local national employees are not authorized to use the facilities.
The above list is not intended to be all encompassing. When dealing with military and host-nation laws and regulations, it is difficult to say one situation fits all.
Keep in mind that each situation might be different. For specific detailed information of persons authorized to shop in these facilities, consult your local U.S. Forces Customs Office.
For answers to specific questions contact the Wiesbaden Customs Office at mil 337-5188/6071. The office is located in Building 1038, Room 201.
Or visit the customs website at www.hqusareur.army.mil/opm/customs.htm.