Arnold Schwarzenegger's Customs Ordeal at Munich Airport Over a Luxury Watch: A Detailed Account

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Customs Ordeal at Munich Airport Over a Luxury Watch: A Detailed Account
Photo by Free Nomad / Unsplash

Former California Governor and renowned actor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently encountered a challenging situation at Munich Airport in Germany. The incident, which involved a luxury watch and customs officials, has garnered significant media attention.

The Incident at Munich Airport

On a recent Wednesday, Schwarzenegger, best known for his role in the "Terminator" series, was temporarily detained by customs officials at Munich Airport. This event occurred during his transit to Austria. German media outlets, with the German tabloid Bild being the first to report, detailed the circumstances of this detention.

The Luxury Watch Controversy

The cause of this unexpected delay was a luxury watch found in Schwarzenegger's luggage. The watch, a custom-made Audemars Piguet, was valued at approximately $30,000. According to reports, the watch was not declared as required by customs regulations. This oversight led to a temporary hold-up and initiated criminal tax proceedings against Schwarzenegger.

Customs Procedures and Schwarzenegger's Response

A customs spokesperson highlighted the necessity of registering such high-value items since they are considered imports. Schwarzenegger reportedly informed the officials that his intention was to auction the watch for a charitable cause. He was scheduled to attend a fundraising event in Kitzbühel, near Austria’s Kaiser Mountains, for his non-profit Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative.

Despite this explanation, German customs imposed a fee on Schwarzenegger. The total amount included tax value and a penalty, summing up to around $38,000, as per the Bild report.

Payment Challenges and Aftermath

An interesting turn in the events occurred when Schwarzenegger attempted to settle the dues. A source informed CBS that the actor was not asked to fill out a declaration form initially and tried to pay the fees at the airport using a credit card. However, due to a malfunctioning machine, this was not possible. Subsequently, customs officials escorted Schwarzenegger to a bank terminal to withdraw the necessary funds.

Despite resolving the payment issue, a customs spokesperson informed Agence-France Presse that the luxury watch might have to remain in Germany. Schwarzenegger expressed his frustration to Bild, highlighting the bureaucratic complexities he faced.

Customs Statement and Schwarzenegger's Commitments

A spokesperson for the main customs office in Munich emphasized the universal application of customs regulations, stating that these rules apply to everyone, regardless of fame or status.

Alongside the auction of the watch, Schwarzenegger's fundraising event boasted various other items for bidding. These included a training session with the former bodybuilding champion, artworks, signed memorabilia, and experiences from the worlds of sports and film.


The incident involving Arnold Schwarzenegger at Munich Airport underscores the importance of adhering to customs regulations, regardless of one's stature or intentions. It also highlights the unexpected challenges that can arise during international travel, even for high-profile individuals. Despite the inconvenience and subsequent financial penalty, Schwarzenegger's commitment to his charitable cause remained evident throughout the ordeal. The event serves as a reminder of the intricate procedures involved in international travel and the necessity of complying with local laws and regulations.