Typical lost property items include mobile phones, keys and bicycles.
If you discover lost property, notify the owner or deliver the property to the police as soon as possible. The police operate a quite comprehensive nationwide lost property system.
If you discover any items whose acquisition or possession is prohibited or requires a permit from the authorities, such as drugs, illegal alcohol or firearms, deliver them to the police without delay. To find your nearest police station, just enter the name of your municipality in the police department search.
If you cannot transport the lost property you found without danger or difficulty, notify the police of your discovery.
You may also notify or deliver the lost property to a customer service point of a joint service with which the police have an agreement about delivery of lost property.
Property found in a public place
Hand over any lost property to the staff at the location where you found the item or to the lost property office at the site if you do the discovery in one of the following places:
- public transport vehicle,
- railway station or bus station or other similar transport location,
- business premises,
- government facilities,
- office premises,
- a workplace,
- an educational institution,
- a hospital,
- a theatre,
- a sports venue,
- any other similar premises, or
- outdoors in a public event that requires a notification or a permit held in a specific place.
Finder's reward and ownership of lost property
Owners of lost property are entitled to claim back any items you have discovered if they pay you a finder’s reward and compensate you for any costs incurred.
By law, the finder’s reward is 10% of the current market value of the item, though no less than EUR 4. The specified fee for storage costs is 5% of the current market value of the item, though no more than EUR 17. If the general storage costs amount to less than EUR 4, the compensation may be waived.
If the owner does not claim the lost property item within three months, you can collect the item, with a few exceptions. If the lost property was delivered to the police, you must collect the item within three months of the transfer of ownership. After that, the lost property shall be forfeit to the government.
Lost property acquired by the government will be auctioned off or sold in some other way, adopted for government use or disposed of.
You cannot gain ownership of such discovered items as:
- documents which can be cancelled and whose owner is not known,
- keys, IDs cards, licences, bank cards, credit cards, or other similar property items, such as memory devices (e.g. mobile phones or laptops), or
- property the acquisition or possession of which is subject to a licence unless the finder has such a licence.
Furthermore, you cannot gain ownership of a bicycle or moped you have discovered. Bicycles and mopeds that are lost property and remain unclaimed by the owner shall be auctioned off. You are entitled to be paid one third of the sale price of the item.
No finder’s reward is paid on property found in a public place and its ownership is not transferred to the finder under any circumstances.
If you illicitly take possession of such a lost property item, you may be guilty of embezzlement or petty embezzlement.
Lost property of low value
A lost property item shall be considered to be of low value if it is worth no more than EUR 20 and has no apparent sentimental, utility or other personal value for its owner.
In the absence of a lost-property office, it is your responsibility to return any low-value item that you find to its rightful owner. If tracking down the owner would be a disproportionate burden, you can keep the item yourself.