Customs Import Regulations in Germany.

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The European Customs Law is codificated in the Union Customs Code (UCC / Regulation (EU) Nr. 952/2013), in the Common Customs Tariff (CCT / Regulation (EU) Nr. 2658/87), in the Community system of reliefs from customs duty (Regulation (EU) Nr. 1186/2009) and in the international agreements on the customs regulations. These regulations are supplemented by the national tax law and by the national regulatory law of the EU-countries: In Germany are relevant the import regulations the Fiscal Code (AO), the regulations of the Customs Administration Code (ZollVG), the Customs Regulation (ZollV) and the Customs Investigations Service Code (ZFdG).

Union Customs Code.

The Union Customs Code (UCC) applies directly in the countries of the European Union. The import of goods to EU is regulated by the Titles I to VII of UCC, which include – among other – the following regulations: Applications and requests to the customs authorities; appeals against the decisions of the customs authorities; regulations of charges and costs; regulations of customs debt; regulations on goods brought into the customs territory of the European Union; general rules on placing goods under a customs procedure; regulations on customs declarations. The Union Customs Code is supplemented by additional EU-Regulations, which set formal requirements - among other – on the EORI-Number, which is an operator identification number. The EORI-Number is necessary to register and to identify economic operations and is valid in all countries of the European Union after beeing issued in the EU country of the main interest of the operator.  

European Common Customs Tariff.

Important is the customs regulation of the Common Customs Tariff. It contains the Combined Nomenclature of goods and CN-Codes. The CN-Codes are based on the international Harmonized System of Goods Classification. The CN is the 8-digit EU coding system within the 10-digit TARIC-Number (Tarif Intégré Communautaire), which classifies goods according to the EU trade policy on the certain groups of goods. The TARIC Number, added with the 1-digit ECT-Code, the electronic customs tariff, forms the 11-digit International Customs Number.

Customs Criminal Law. 

The Customs Criminal Law is the special part of the national customs law, which is codificated in Germany in the Fiscal Code (AO) and in the Criminal Code (StGB). The most relevant criminal offences are the illegal import, export, or transit of goods according to the § 372 AO; the professional smuggling according to the § 373 AO; the tax avasion according to the §§ 3 Abs. 3, 370 AO; the receiving, holding or selling goods obtained by tax evasion according to the § 374 AO; the facilitation of crimes according to the § 369 Abs. 1 Nr. 4 AO; the  counterfeiting of official stamps according to the §§ 148, 149 StGB, § 369 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 AO. The customs violations are - among other - the reckless understatement of tax according to the § 378 AO; the general minor tax fraud according to the § 379 AO; endangerment of import and export duties according to the § 382 AO.

Practice of Import. 

Every import of goods to the EU and to Germany is to be prepared in accordance with the customs regulations. The importer must apply for an EORI Number on the electronic customs portal of the customs authorities of the EU country of import. Then the customs tariff number must be legally researched and determined. Special approvals and certification must be applied for certain categories of goods. The commercial and supporting documentation must be completed. The existing legal restrictions on the import of certain product groups must be determined. The traits for the import customs duties must be determined: The customs value and the existing preferences. The customs declaration must be then prepared as an electronic declaration and filed via the ATLAS system.

The following documents must be completed and kept for controlling: The customs declaration, the commercial invoices, the customs value declaration, the certificates and declarations of origin, CE marking of european conformity, the manufacturer`s declaration of conformity, the technical documentation for imported goods, the reports for intra-EU-trade statistics.

Legal summary.

The import of goods to EU and Germany is widely regulated by the EU customs law and by the national customs, administrative, tax and criminal law of the countries of the EU. To keep the import sales efficient and legally compliant, it is important to complete duly a legal product research, a legal customs and trade research and to keep the trade documentation in accordance to the legal requirements of the importing country of the European Union.

The law firm FAITZER advices in all matters of the import and transport law and supports the dispute resolution in the international trade law. 

Author: Attorney Yana Krause 

Law Company FAITZER

T 0049 40 39109 365

F 0049 40 39109 373


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