Questions on customs procedures and commercial goods traffic
- Pre-clearance prior to export
- Supplier's declaration
- Requirement of a supplier's declaration
- What is a supplier's declaration?
- Purpose of a supplier's declaration
- Issuer of a supplier's declaration
- Request of a supplier's declaration
- Obligation of issuing a supplier's declaration
- Types of supplier's declarations
- Validity period of a supplier's declaration
- Formalities to be applied
- What origin may be certified?
- Certification of more than one preferential arrangement
- Injustly issued supplier's declarations
- Repairs abroad
- The most important value limits
- Import/Export enterprises
- Exhibition goods for a fair abroad
- The customs exchange rate
- Overview over customs procedures
- Examples of duty rates
- How to use the TARIC
- EDIFACT manuals in English
The goods or the packaging are already marked "Made in Germany".
In this preferential agreement tariff advantages were agreed upon. Tariff advantage means that the importation into the country of destination is duty-free or at least tariff reduced if a corresponding preference document is submitted. Most preferential agreements require the evidence of origin in the preferential document. The simple labelling "Made in ..." would not be enough for this purpose.
As an intermediate dealer intending to export goods cannot know if his supplier provides him with goods of EC origin or just resells imported goods, the intermediate dealer may issue a preference document only if he can confirm the origin of goods in the meaning of the preferential agreement on the basis of the supplier's declaration.
Text samples for supplier's declarations for goods with or without preferential origin even as long-term supplier's declarations are available.
Any trade company intending to export goods acquired within the EU under preferential conditions unchanged to a partner country or being requested itself to issue a supplier's declaration, would need a supplier's declaration for the assessment of the status of origin of commercial goods.
- single supplier's declarations: issued for a single consignment and
- long-term supplier's declarations: issued if identical goods are supplied regularly.
Long-term supplier's declarations are valid for at most 1 year.
In return the supplier is obliged to inform the consignee immediately if the particulars made in the long-term supplier's declaration about the preferential origin of the goods are not true any more.
There is no prescription by law as to the form. The wording of the supplier's declaration may also be submitted on a blank letter or letterhead of the supplier.
- According to tax laws: The incorrect origin in a supplier's declaration could end in the withdrawal of an issued preference document (e.g. EUR.1) and the subsequent payment of duties in the country of importation by the customer.
- According to criminal law: Participation in a tax offence (e.g. tax evasion) committed by the exporter or importer may be given.
- According to civil law: The originating status of goods may be taken as a guaranteed feature of the goods (art. 437 German Civil Code). The damage possibly arising for the customer - e.g. by subsequent payment of duties - must be compensated.
The placement under this customs procedure goes like this:
The damaged item has to be declared, i.e. presented, prior to exportation at the local customs office. The appropriate form is no. 0749 (available). This is a compound form of the SAD which is standardised within the EC and additionally includes the export declaration. Within the framework of export control, the customs office will then issue "a processing document" to the local consignor. On subsequent submitting this processing document at re-importation of the repaired items at the customs office of entry the customs duties and taxes shall be calculated only on the basis of the repair costs instead of the total value of the goods. If you can prove that it was a free warranty work, no import duties will be charged. In any isolated case the corresponding person has to decide whether the efforts in the procedure of outward processing are worth being carried out compared to possible customs and tax advantages. Many goods are duty-free or have low customs rates. In many cases the import VAT may be considered for the deduction of input tax.
If the repair is an act without "commercial character", i.e. a repair that is performed only occasionally and only concerning goods intended for personal use or consumption by the importer, the described customs procedure may be simplified. The issue of a "processing document" in advance may not be applicable. The procedure of outward processing may be applied for and granted at re-importation. However, even within the simplified procedure of outward processing the importer must submit all evidence the customs office considers necessary for the assessment of the case. Such evidence could be a guarantee, communication regarding the claim for repair, the invoice for repair or the previous purchase invoice.
There are different allowances for duty-free quantities or values because of differing legal
regulations, and there may be exceptions to every rule.
The following is a brief overview of the most important allowances by value or amount; the list is not complete and does not include exceptions (e.g. goods subject to excise duties)!
Small-sum arrangement for imports in tourist traffic;
amounts of less than EUR 3 are not levied.
Small-sum arrangement for other imports (except in tourist traffic);
amounts of less than EUR 5 are not levied.
Small-sum import VAT;
where no customs or excise duty is payable but only import VAT and the importer is able to deduct the import VAT as input tax at his/her tax office, import VAT amounts up to EUR 10 are not levied.
Consignments of minor value:
No import duty is levied if the total value per consignment does not exceed EUR 22.
With effect as from 1 December 2008, the maximum allowance for the duty-free import of small consignments is being increased to EUR 150 per consignment; for the import VAT, the existing value limit of EUR 22 will remain in force.
Excluded from this exemption are, however:
- Alcoholic products,
- Perfumes and eau de toilette,
- Tobacco and tobacco products.
Coffee is also excluded from the excise duty exemption, i.e. tax is levied on coffee even within the EUR 22 limit.
Samples and specimens
A limited number of samples and specimens up to a value of EUR 50 can be imported in one consignment duty-free. Other conditions also apply here and must be complied with.
Duty-free allowance for consignments from one private person to another
Goods sent by a private person outside the customs territory of the European Community to a person inside the customs territory of the European Community are duty-free up to a total value of EUR 45 provided they constitute an occasional, non-commercial consignment (= are not being sent in return for payment) and certain quantity limits are not exceeded in the case of tobacco products, alcohol and alcoholic beverages as well as eau de toilette and coffee.
Duty-free travel allowance for imports by persons aged under 15 in tourist traffic from non-EU countries
Duty-free allowance for imports by persons aged 15 or older in tourist traffic from non-EU countries who do not enter the country by sea or air
Duty-free allowance for imports by persons aged 15or older in tourist traffic from non-EU countries who enter the country by sea or air
EUR 250/EUR 50
EU resident and non-EU residents may import samples and specimens for corresponding trading enterprises or processing facilities
- in the case of industrial goods up to a value of EUR 250 per import consignment
- in the case of food and agricultural products up to a value of EUR 50 per import consignment, with the exception of seed,
without an import permit.
For dutiable goods which travellers import in their personal baggage occasionally and exclusively for personal use or consumption for their household or as a gift
which are sent in occasional consignments of a non-commercial nature, i.e. not in return for charge, by natural persons from territories which neither form part of the customs territory of the Community nor belong to the island of Helgoland to other natural persons and are exclusively intended for personal use or consumption in the household of the consignee
whose value does not exceed EUR 700 per traveller or consignment, the import duty is levied at specified flat rates.
|Description of goods||Preferential goods||Non-preferential goods|
|Sparkling wine||EUR 2.20 per litre||EUR 2.30 per litre|
|Liqueur wine, vermouth wine and other aromatized wines||EUR 2.10 per litre||EUR 2.10 per litre|
|Mixed products containing alcohol as well as brandy, liqueur and other spirits named in sub-items 2208 2012 to 2208 9078 of the Customs Tariff||EUR 6.60 per litre||EUR 6.80 per litre|
|Undenaturated ethyl alcohol with an alcohol content of 80 % by volume or more (in quantities up to 5 litres)||EUR 14.40 per litre||EUR 14.50 per litre|
|Undenaturated ethyl alcohol with an alcohol content of less than 80 % by volume (in quantities up to 5 litres)||EUR 9.80 per litre||EUR 9.90 per litre|
|Cigarettes||EUR 0.18 each||EUR 0.19 each|
|Cigars and cigarillos (in quantities up to 250 pcs.)||27 percent *||42 percent *|
|Fine cut (in quantities up to 1 kg)||EUR 70.30 per kg||EUR 82.80 per kg|
|Pipe tobacco (in quantities up to 1 kg)||EUR 35.40 per kg||EUR 49.30 per kg|
|Carburettor fuel||EUR 0.90 per litre||EUR 0.90 per litre|
|Diesel fuel||EUR 0.70 per litre||EUR 0.70 per litre|
|Other goods (exept beer)||15 percent||17.5 percent|
*) of the domestic retail price for cigars or cigarillos of the same brand or equivalent type and quality.
The flat rates of duty pursuant to the table above do not apply when goods are imported
in greater quantities than those stated above.
Where beer is imported in a quantity exceeding the duty-free allowance, the duty cannot be charged on a flat-rate basis. The import levies must be calculated on the basis of the rates of duty pursuant to the Customs Tariff and the German Beer Tax Law.
All indications of weight in this section refer to the net weights of the goods.
Goods for import and export exceeding the value limit of 1,000 Euro must be declared in writing.
Copy 3 of the export declaration (SAD) must be stamped by the inland export customs office prior to exportation.
Most preferential agreements between the Community and other states provide for this value limit in connection with the necessary preference document. For shipments of less value a declaration of origin in prescribed wording directly on the invoice or another trade document would be sufficient. For higher value the movement certificate EUR.1 would be necessary for granting the preference in the country of importation.
First define yourself a limited range of goods. Let us know the country your business partner is registered in. From a customs point of view it may be very expensive to deal in fresh fruit and vegetables, chemical products, leather products, electrical appliances, textiles, antiques etc. at the same time. The conditions are too different.
On principle, customs requirements depend on the heading of the international "Harmonised commodity description an coding system" (HS) a product is classified under. The Customs tariff of the EC and of most other countries is based on this HS. Many other fields of justice relate to it. The "Warenverzeichnis für die Außenhandelsstatistik" (Commodity classification for foreign trade statistics) which is available in book trade, may offer you an introduction into this "goods catalogue".
The ATA Carnet is an international customs document which may be used instead of otherwise necessary customs papers for temporary importation, exportation or transit (e.g. items of job equipment or goods for fairs or exhibitions). The advantage of this document is the option to use it in all Member States of the ATA-Convention as the only document. Among others the ATA Carnet would therefore even cover the transit through other countries so that you would not have to fill in additional customs papers at each crossing of a border or even have to lodge a deposit or pay import duties. This is possible because all issuing associations of all countries of the ATA-Convention are liable to the national customs authorities for possibly arising import duties. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the ATA Carnet is issued by the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK). Possible costs must be paid there.
The inland customs office would perform so-called identification measures by comparing the list of goods from the Carnet to the presented (declared) goods and confirming them legally. Then the transport could begin. At re-importation into Germany the completion of the procedure will be confirmed legally. The holder of the procedure will then return the empty booklet of forms to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK).
If the expenditures for the ATA Carnet procedure would be too high in a single case, perhaps because the value of the shipment is comparatively low, you should apply for an "Information sheet return arrangements INF 3" at the customs office prior to the exportation to make the re-importation easier. In this case you should separately dig for information about the regulations in the other countries concerned, best via institutions of these countries as Chambers of foreign trade or consulates.
By declaring the goods they are placed under a customs procedure and shall be cleared accordingly.
In some cases the customs law stipulates extensive conditions, surveillance measures, the obligation of proof and/or the deposit of a security. Any person concerned should take this into consideration for any single case before deciding for one of the customs procedures. A procedure in which you can save duties and charges but which also stipulates extensive surveillance measures may turn out to be less suitable than the placement under the procedure of free circulation and the levying of import duties connected with it.
Some customs procedures shall be briefly described here:
Customs procedure "release for free circulation (home use)"
This is probably the most frequently used procedure for the importation of goods. Goods are subject to normal customs duties and taxes. All external economic requirements for importation must be met as well as all conditions concerning possible prohibitions and restrictions. The importer pays the duties and may dispose of the goods freely.
Goods may be placed under this procedure
if they are not or not yet intended for another procedure and therefore have to
be stored. As long as the goods remain within this procedure most of the other
regulations shall not apply, in particular, no duties or taxes shall be
Goods may only be placed under customs warehausing if the warehouse keeper was granted a customs warehouse. In the Federal Republic of Germany warehouse keepers are always companies, not the customs administration. The granting may be subject to conditions as for example the deposit of a security for the case goods shall be released into free circulation without presenting them once more. On principle, the person concerned may not dispose of the goods.
Customs procedure "outward processing"
This procedure may be granted for goods
which shall be exported temporarily for processing or working abroad. Than the
newly created goods will be re-imported within the granted time period. At
re-importation the calculation of duties and taxes will be based on the
differential clearance or the clearance of the added value.
Differential clearance does not mean that the difference of goods value before and after working is calculated. The calculation of duties and taxes in case of outward processing is quite complicated - we cannot give a description here. In case of further questions in special cases, please contact your competent customs office or main customs office.
Customs procedure "inward processing"
In this procedure goods are first imported and subsequently re-exported after being processed or worked within a period of time defined by the customs administration (the counterpart of outward processing). Normally, no duties or taxes are levied on the imported goods. From case to case, a security in the amount of the equivalently applicable duties and taxes may be required. The exportation of the processed or worked goods in time shall be supervised.
Customs procedure "temporary importation"
This procedure shall be performed if
goods are imported only temporarily and shall be re-exported unchanged. These
cases are defined precisely. The possible periods during which the goods may
remain in the territory by reference to the authorised uses are always
Among others the defined cases include exhibits for fairs and exhibitions and goods which shall only be tested. In most cases, no special authorisation is needed. The authorisation is granted with the issue of the document for temporary importation on import customs clearance.
On principle, a security in the amount of the import duties and taxes will be required. The exportation in time will be supervised.
The "ATA Carnet" provides an alternative to the document for temporary importation as surveillance document. It shall be issued already in the country of exportation. On importation, no security shall be required - only the re-export in time will be supervised.
This procedure is used for the
transportation of goods. Among others, it offers the possibility to transport
goods according to their customs status through several countries without the
necessity to fulfil the otherwise prescribed conditions of each country for the
importation and exportation already at the border. Thus, most of the formalities
for the importation or exportation which are not connected with prohibitions and
restrictions may be transferred from the border into the inland.
As no import duties and taxes have been levied yet, a security is always required. The term is defined for such a period of time, that would be absolutely necessary for the transportation of the goods. Longer terms for an intended intermediate storage of goods without appropriate customs procedure are principally not granted.
For the transit procedure the means of transport shall usually be "suitable for sealing", i.e. it must be possible to affix customs seals to "ensure the identification of goods".
As a rule, import VAT is levied in addition to the customs duty on the importation of goods into Germany: 19 % or 7 % of the sum of invoice price (free domicile, i.e. including any transport costs) and the amount of customs duties.
|class of goods||rate of duty
of customs value
|clothing made of|
|- textiles||12 %|
|- leather||4 %|
|shoes with upper part made of|
|- leather||8 %|
|- other materials||17 %|
|gold and silver jewellery||2.5 %|
|fancy jewellery||4 %|
|USB flash drive||free-14 %|
|monitore / display||free-14 %|
|GPS-navigation device||3.7 %|
|sport apparatus||2.7 %-4.7 %|
|- e.g. golf clubs||2.7 %|
|- e.g. tennis rackets||4.7 %|
|decorative articles made of|
|- plastics||6.5 %|
|- base metals (e.g. copper)||free|
|books, paintings||free (import VAT: 7 %)|
|prints, posters, photos||free|
|music cassettes, CDs, videos, DVDs||3.5 %|
|- passenger cars||10 %|
|- quads||10 %|
|- motorbikes up to 250 cubic capacity||8 %|
|- motorbikes more than 250 cubic capacity||6 %|
|cosmetic products||free-6.5 %|
If you know already two, four or six digits of the code from other sources (six digits = international HS-Code):
Enter the first digits as TARIC code (e.g. t-shirts: 6109) and click on "Browse" in order to get a full description of the product you are interested in. After having determined the complete code number by clicking on the line according to the given detailed description of your kind of product, the system will go back to the start and shows ten digits as TARIC code.
Then choose the country of origin and click on "duty rates". You will get information about the general third country import duty rate, if applicable reduced preferential duty rates depending on the given country of origin and about certain import restrictions.
Click on "Browse" and you see the "Table of Contents". There you click on the section you are interested in and continue as mentioned above.
You can also change the "simulation date" from the current date into a date in the furture or past.
The complete European customs codes consist of 10 digits (=TARIC Code). For most products you would add "0" in order to get the complete German code No. consisting of 11 digits in case that customs clearance is in Germany.