Shipping & Mail Forwarding to Germany

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Clearance Process
General Import Clearance Customs Number

All German importers must have a Customs Number on file. The exceptions to this requirement are individuals, military shipments (must be specifically noted on all documents), Non-EU residents and importers who only receive 3 or less shipments per year (total by any method of transport and or carrier combined). The importer must file and application to obtain this required Customs Number and this process could take 2 to 3 weeks. If a shipment arrives without the Customs Number on file delays and additional fees can be incurred.

Customs clearance is generally done electronically through the ATLAS System by the broker performing the clearance. There are six entry types used for clearance offered by FedEx in Germany. The specific entry requirement is determined based on the shipment value, approved use, commodity type, and licensing or other controls and reason for importation.

General Import Entry Types:

  • High Value Clearance. Verzollung. Duties & Tax (Excise Tax occur).
  • Manifest Low Value Clearance (Simplified Procedure for Import Clearance) for goods under 25 EURO
  • Single Low Value Clearance. Freischreibung. (For sample shipments exceeding 25 EURO)
  • Summary Customs Procedure. VAV. (Simplified procedure for frequent importers)
  • Bonded shipments. T1-Versandverfahren. (Shipments transiting un-cleared, in bond to final consignee)
  • AE 302 clearance. Armeegutabfertigung. (Shipments of official use for U.S. Military)

Document Requirements
Bills of Lading - No special regulations

Consular Invoices - None

Certificates of Origin - Certificates of Origin are required for the importation of any Textile products. Exceptions include marked and mutilated samples, luggage made up of textile materials, Canvas bags, Bona - fide Gifts, and Personal Effects. A Certificate of Origin is advisable for every commodity subject to import licensing and /or quota restrictions.

Certificate of origin Form A - A certificate of origin Form A may be required for goods under formal entry claiming preferential duty or exemption under the various agreements of the Generalized System of Preferences. It should be produced at the time of entry and must be in the possession of the Importer at the time of entry. Origin of the goods must be detailed on the commercial invoice.

EUR 1 form - Import - A EUR 1 form may be required for goods under formal entry claiming preferential duty or exemption under various bilateral agreements by the European Union countries and some specific countries or groups of countries. It should be produced at the time of entry and must be in possession of the Importer at the time of entry. Origin of the goods must be detailed on the commercial invoice.

EUR 1 form - Export - A EUR 1 form may be required by exporters from the European Union to some countries to claim preferential duty or exemption under the various agreements as per the above paragraph.

Commercial Invoices - Invoices are required for all dutiable shipments regarding transaction between companies or companies and individuals, regardless of the value. Commercial Invoices should show freight, insurance and similar charges as separate items when applicable, regardless of the INCOTERM used on the transaction. It must be in English or German for import and export.

Specific invoice details are required for a number of commodities including the following:

  • Audio/video cassettes and tapes - the length and width of the tape, a brief synopsis of the content and the reason for exportation.
  • Textiles - the fabric breakdown, whether knit or woven and, for clothing articles, the gender and number of textiles.
  • Marked/mutilated samples - the words "mutilated samples" or " marked samples, not for resale" as applicable and number of pieces
  • Software on CD's and floppy disks - The value of software must be shown separately from software support.
Air Waybill - An air waybill or carriers certificate (naming the consignee for customs purposes) as evidence of the consignee's right to make entry

ATA Carnet - The ATA carnet is a document that may be used instead of SAD forms for Temporary admission and Temporary exportation, which are the usual Customs documentation for temporary clearance of professional equipment, commercial samples and advertising material. The carnet is usually issued by Chambers of Commerce in the country of origin and is valid for one year. It must be validated by Customs upon import, re-export, export and re-import. The "Admission Temporaire - Temporary Admission", or the ATA Carnet, is an international customs document which may be used for the temporary duty free admission and temporary export of commercial samples. This is in-lieu-of the usual customs documents required for entry. The carnet serves as a guarantee against the payment of duty, which may become due if the merchandise is not re-exported.

Note: These articles require special processing and customs clearance, which are not handled under the FedEx IP express carrier operation and it's commitments.

Dangerous Goods Certification - Some goods will, in addition to the standard documentation noted above, require DG certification. i.e. Perfumes, Liquor, Chemicals, etc.

All documents presented for use in customs clearance processing should be prepared in English or German to avoid delays and expedite clearance processing.

Country of Origin Marking

All articles imported into Germany must bear a proper country of origin (country of manufacture) marking as specified by Custom's regulations. The country of origin must be provided on the goods in the manner and location designated by the rules governing that commodity. For purposes of identifying the actual country of manufacture where goods are processed or assembled in more than one country; the country of origin (manufacture) will be that country; where the goods were last processed into, a finished good or where a substantial transformation was made on the raw materials transforming them from one commodity into another. Substantial transformation requires that the goods be changed markedly from one commodity to another. Adding of water, to fruit juice concentrates to make fruit juice, is deemed not to be a substantial transformation. Smelting of ore into steel sheets or rods is considered a substantial transformation. Rules of origin are complex and require a thorough knowledge of the commodity and processes used in making the product, as well as the rules of origin that apply to any preferential tariff agreements in place.

Marking of Goods

Certain electronic goods put up for sale or use in Germany, require Electromagnetic Compatibility Certification and must bear the appropriate CE marking. Toys put up for sale or use in Germany must meet certain safety regulations and must bear the appropriate CE marking. Child Safety restraints, motorcycle helmets put up for sale or use in Germany must meet certain safety regulations.

CE Marking

The CE (Conformite' Europeenne) Marking is required to be displayed on regulated products offered for commercial sale on the European market. It indicates that a product complies with applicable European Directives related to health, safety, environment and consumer protection. Because the CE Marking identifies products that meet a common set of criteria established and adopted by 18 member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), the CE Marking on your products will permit them to move freely in commerce throughout the European market. The manufacturer, or authorized representative, is responsible for placing the CE Marking on compliant products. The common CE Marking logo is placed on the product, product literature or packaging as described in each Directive. Articles regulated under the European Directives that are not properly marked when imported are subject to delay in customs and may not be cleared for consumption.

Temporary Imports: Including Repaired Articles or Articles for Repair

Articles consigned for Temporary Import traveling under Carnets, goods for exhibition, goods for repair, goods for incorporation into other articles and goods imported for further processing and re-export are acceptable for importation into Germany. These articles require special processing and customs clearance, which are not handled under the express carrier operation commitments. Clearance delays could be experienced on entries lodged for these type shipments. Shipments of these type goods can also be consigned as ATA (Airport to Airport) shipments and designated for handling by an approved local clearance agent or forwarder.

Customs Valuation

All goods categorized, as non-document commercial goods shipped to Germany must have a proper value declared and proper description provided which should convey the shipper's intent related to the goods as well as any special processing requirements that exist for the goods shipped.

Everything has a value, whether or not a transaction took place. Failure to properly document value of any goods will result in delays and or additional fees as deemed necessary in addition to warehouse fees.

Import Duties
Most goods imported are subject to Ad Valorem Duty and Value Added Tax. Rates of duty vary and are based on the commodity type and country of origin. Value Added Tax is zero, 7.0% (applicable specifically to antiques and original works of art) or 19.0 % and is determined by the commodity type. Duty is based on the cost of insurance and freight value, and Value Added Tax is payable on the sum of the cost, insurance, freight value plus the duty amount payable. Additional taxes also include Excise Duty which is payable on commodities that have a spirit or alcohol content, tobacco products, coffee, and hydrocarbon oils.Below is a summary of the new rules for EU deminimis value that enter into effect December 1, 2008:

  • A commercial shipment below 22 Euros: no duty and no VAT collected.
  • A commercial shipment between 22 Euros and 150 Euros: no duty but VAT is collected.
  • A commercial shipment over 150 Euros: duty and VAT are collected.


Under strict enforcement of unfair trade laws, Customs will assess antidumping duties or countervailing duties. Antidumping duties are assessed on imported merchandise sold in Germany at less than the normal price of goods in the manufacturer's home market (also called fair market value).

Excise Duties

Excise duties are payable on a number of commodities: alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, Coffee and Coffee Products, minerals oils (all at EU harmonized rates), and waste, electric energy, certain energy sources, sweets and soft drinks (at national rates). Higher tariffs than the EU level may be imposed on the following items: footwear, rubber, plastic, metals, raw hides & skins and some electric machinery.

Additional Duties

Countervailing duties are assessed to counter the effects of subsidies provided by a foreign government for merchandise exported to Germany resulting in artificially low prices that are detrimental to German and European Union member states' industries.

Import Taxes
Most imports enter under MFN Rates (Most Favored Nation) rates. Relative high tariffs apply to textile, automobile, consumer electronics, cereal, meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, footwear, rubber, plastic & metals.

Value added tax (VAT)
In addition to duties goods; imported into Germany are also subject to a Value-Added Tax (VAT) that is generally charged at one of these rates:

  1. The standard basic value added tax is at a rate of 22%. VAT is payable on the sum of the value of the goods, plus insurance, plus freight cost and any other duty amount the goods may be subject to.

  2. The reduced rate of 17% on Foodstuffs.

  3. The reduced rate of 8% on Sport facilities usage, medicines, books, cinemas, passenger transport services, hotel and other accommodation, entertainment performances, sporting events, zoos, museums, and other such events or institutions.

Agricultural and forestry products continue to be subject to different forms of taxation outside of the VAT.

Goods exempt from the VAT include health care, education, insurance, newspaper & periodical subscriptions and rentals.

Customs Fees
Invoice Fee
Customs in some situations will assess additional fees based on the invoices provided for a shipment. The fee is usually levied if they deem them necessary as part of the terms of entry due to the size of the shipment and the related large number of invoices provided by the shipper for his goods.

Examination Fees
Additional fees can be assessed on some commodities to cover the expense of performing the examinations and or testing required as a condition of the goods entry into the commerce of Germany. Commodities affected are: cosmetics, drugs and medicines, artwork.

Exchange Controls
There are national restrictions within the EC for cash money transport to Germany.

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)
Technical barriers or non-tariff barriers to trade, as they are sometimes known, can cause many problems for exporters looking for new markets for their products. These barriers can be in the form of regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that these barriers do not create unnecessary obstacles. To obtain further information on Technical Barriers to Trade as well as Notifications on technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, go to the EU website.

Consular Fees
There are no consular fees.

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