Germany's import and export

Importing goods into Germany - Sales taxation

The principle of mutual recognition involves that EU Member States are required to allow products on their markets which are legally marketed in another Member State. This fundamental principal applies even if they have not been harmonised (or uniformed) by an European Regulation or Directive. The application of this principle can be challenged only under some particular conditions ( e.g. public safety, health or environmental protection).

It is important to know that companies from EU contries, which are not registered in Germany, are eligible to apply for a VAT refund according to the EU Directive 2008/9/EC. Even companies from non-EU countries can apply for a VAT refund and must apply for it at their local tax administration offices.

The application can be carried out online at the Website of the German Federal Central Tax Office. Alternatively, you may consult a German tax accountant on a Network Apart who will submit your vat refund to the tax office for you.

There are no customs, but taxation and statistical reporting obligations must be kept in mind.

When goods are imported into Germany from non-European countries, tariff and non-tariff restrictions must be observed. It is important to say that few good traded in Germany are currently subject to direct market regulations, as the EU direct market regulations.

Tariff import restrictions originate under customs law and tend to consist of customs duties payable for the imported goods;

Non-tariff import restrictions may originate in foreign trade law or in international conventions.

Good imported from non-EU contries into Germany are subject to the value-added tax of 19%. The import turnover tax may be lower in some particular cases (e.g. 7% as for food products, newspapers and books).

Import restrictions under foreign trade law are prohibitions (e.g. embargo measures), requirements for authorisations (e.g. the demand for import authorisations for certain textiles) and monitoring measures (e.g. monitoring documents for the import of sugar).

Goods of which the import is subject to restrictions under foreign trade law and particular procedural requirements are listed on the import list (Annex to the Foreign Trade Law). Import prohibitions or authorisation requirements may, however, originate from other legal areas. These are designed to protect other objects of legal protection outside of commercial policy (e.g. bans on imports of drugs for the sake of the protection of the public health).

Customs monitor compliance with the laws and regulations applicable to the goods and often also levy the import duties due (customs, import turnover tax, particular consumer taxes such as excise on spirits or tobacco).

Exporting goods from Germany

The export procedure must be observed - according to article 161 of the German Customs code - when exporting goods from Germany. This is designed for the application and monitoring of Community (referring to the EU) and national foreign-trade restrictions on exports of Community goods . The export procedure should be stricktly followed when re-exporting non-Community goods as well, in conjunction with a customs procedure which has a particular economic importance for the German country.

Please keep in mind that the export of certain goods requires special authorisation (e.g. defence goods, dual-use goods).

There is a special office for this, the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Germany Trade and Invest). This Office issues import authorisations and control documents in respect of certain goods from third countries (non-EU countries). Third countries are subject to an authorisation under EU regulations, as well as export or shipment authorisations for specific deliveries of goods in EU and non-EU States. Moreover, further trade restrictions may arise from embargo measures.