Economic operators are obliged to state a customs number. Economic operators are persons who in the course of their business are involved in activities covered by customs legislation.
Parties to the submission of the customs declaration with indication of the customs number are:
- the declarant and his/her representative
- the consignee on import
- the consignor/exporter and subcontractor on dispatch/export
- the principal
The duty to state a customs number also applies to parties domiciled abroad.
Persons other than economic operators (private individuals) are not obliged to state a customs number in the customs declaration, even if they are directly represented by a service provider (e.g. postal service or express delivery service). Private individuals are, however, obliged to state a customs number in case of exports subject to authorisation.
When the party concerned completes a customs declaration, the customs number must be preceded by the abbreviation "DE" (e.g. DE1234567).
The 7-digit customs number serves as an identification or ordinal number under which the concerned party's address and authorisations granted to him/her by the customs authorities - as the case may be - as well as the network connections available to him/her are registered (in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act).
The customs number must also be stated within the framework of licensing procedures of the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle - BAFA) and the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung - BLE). Furthermore, this number is necessary for evidencing the import VAT assessed in the ATLAS paperless IT procedure to the tax office.
As from 1st November 2009, there is an additional identification or ordinal number: the Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number - EORI number. Since the above date, this number has been the condition for customs clearance within the European region.