How to Get Stamps Expertized in Germany

Germany has many philatelic experts who issue certificates that are accepted throughout the world. At one time, there was a Bundesprufer Association which gave referrals to the expert handling that area of philately. This is disbanded by the German government since the word "Bundes" was deemed to be a government body.

Currently, a letter must be written to the individual expert. A listing of these experts and their specialty is included in the Ask Phil listing of experts residing in Germany.

The first step is to write the expert that specializes in the area that you questioning. Ask him for his expertizing forms, and cost. Naturally you will have to tell him the Michel number of the piece you want expertized.

One collector has sent more than 150 mailings to Germany of stamps to more than twenty different expertizers. During this period, he has lost only two letters, one he had misaddressed, and the other simply disappeared.

All letters were sent registered and insured for zero amount. He feels that registered mail in Germany (Einschreiben) is about the equivalent of certified mail in the USA. In order to have a letter protected like the registered mail in the USA, it must be a "Wertbrief" (valuable letter), have a declared value in Marks and be sealed with wax.

The costs involved vary from reasonable to expensive. The standard price is about 3% of the Michel value (plus supplements for expensive town cancels), plus return postage, plus a 15% value-added tax (VAT) on all charges. Minimum charges are between DM 20-30. Certificates cost between DM 20-40 for all stamps with a Michel value of DM 1,000 or more. Officially, there is a minimum charge of approximately DM 3 per stamp and 1% for forged stamps.

Payment is another problem. US checks present a problem because of the high bank fees (typically DM 20) in Germany. Some collectors enclose cash with their stamps and have incurred none, or very little losses. Others buy American Express travelers checks in DM, endorse them to the expertizer and include this with the stamps.

Packaging should be in as small and unobtrusive an envelope as possible so that the German Customs Office is not alerted. This requires a visit to the Customs by the expert and payment of additional fees.

Do not use many commemorative stamps, but the highest valuestamps to make up the minimum number of stamps to pay the postage. Do not use any plastic tape to seal the envelope, only paper tape.

When sending a stamp to a German expert, many experts will write on the stamp that it is forged. When that happens, the auction firm may not accept the stamp for return since it has been "altered." Some collectors get around this by including the lot sheet with their stamp and telling the expert, that if the stamp is forged, or altered, please explicitly state on their invoice that this particular stamp was forged.

There are certainly risks involved in sending stamps overseas, but it is a doable option for expertizing.