Frachtbox team

Fixed guidelines for import and export


Published 30 Apr 2022

Fixed guidelines for import and export

Import / Export

If companies in the EU want to import goods from abroad or export them abroad, various contacts with the authorities arise. The requirements of importing or exporting companies differ as to whether they conduct trade transactions with non-EU states or with member states of the European Union.

If a company wants to import goods into the EU, it can first obtain information about any import bans or restrictions. Companies can seek advice from IWM Zoll - the Customs Information and Knowledge Management or from the Chambers of Industry and Commerce and the Chambers of Crafts. Depending on the country of origin of the goods, the importing company will have to deal with different authorities. A distinction is made between trade in goods with other EU countries and trade with non-EU countries.

 

Import from EU country

If the goods to be imported originate from a member state of the European Union, the importer must comply with other obligations within the scope of this intra-trade. If such an import is being carried out by a company for the first time, the VAT identification number (USt-IdNr.) must be applied for at the Federal Central Tax Office. The USt-IdNr. is an independent number that is issued to entrepreneurs in addition to the tax number of the regionally responsible tax office. The EU companies also have the option of having the foreign VAT registration number of the corresponding supplier verified at the Federal Central Tax Office. This can help avoid the need for additional clarification with the tax office or the payment of the tax amount during the further processing of the import. The purchase of the goods must be declared to the tax office in the advance VAT return. This must be done by all companies subject to turnover tax.

In the case of intra-Community trade in goods, companies subject to the obligation to provide information must also submit reports to the Federal Statistical Office for intra-trade statistics. Importing enterprises whose imported goods exceeded a value of 800,000 euros in the previous year are obliged to submit the monthly reports. The reports must include information on the trade transactions carried out. This includes, for example, details of the goods numbers, goods values, countries involved and weights.

 

Import from non-EU state

If the goods to be imported come from non-EU states, the EU company is obliged to apply once for an EORI number from IWM Customs before the first import. The EORI number is required by companies to declare exports or imports to customs. The obligation to provide the EORI number already exists from the first export or import transaction. Since October 2019, the EORI number can also be applied for electronically via the Citizens and Business Customer Portal (BuG) of Customs. Changes to master data will then also be made this way. The advantage of this procedure is that changes to the master data can be made yourself. For online registration, only an Elster certificate issued to the company is required.

Elster certificate issued to the company is all that is required for online registration. Alternatively, a form can still be filled out and sent to the Directorate General of Customs in writing, by e-mail or by fax.

Certain goods are subject to authorisation and require an import licence (EC). Currently, these foreign trade law restrictions exist for the import of textile and clothing products, iron and steel products, horticultural products (fruit and vegetables), rough diamonds and certain medicines.

Restrictions can be searched for directly and on a daily basis online in the electronic customs tariff (EZT-Online) in the Import section using the statistical goods number. The commodity number can be taken from the list of goods for foreign trade statistics of the Federal Statistical Office.

Licensing offices in the EU are the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) and the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE). A declaration on the end-use of the goods must be submitted. The order and contract documents on which the import is based must also be attached to the application. In addition, technical documentation of the import goods, if applicable, must be submitted.

From then on, the importing company faces repeated contact with customs. First, the goods must be declared at the border customs office. This customs declaration is always made via the IT procedure ATLAS.

For consignments of goods with a value of fewer than 1,000 euros, an oral customs declaration can be made. However, if the value of the goods exceeds 1,000 euros, the declaration must be made in writing via the ATLAS procedure. When making the customs declaration, the importer must provide the following information about the delivery of goods: Consignor and consignee of the goods, consignee's EORI number, desired customs procedure, delivery conditions, place of delivery, means of transport and details of the goods. The customs tariff number (commodity code) serves to clearly categorise the goods.

In addition to the customs declaration, the submission of a customs value declaration is mandatory for goods whose value exceeds 20,000 euros. The customs value declaration serves to determine the actual value of the goods in the delivery. For this purpose, all evidence must be provided that provides information on the value. This can be, for example, invoices, proof of freight costs or the sales contracts. If the value of the goods is less than 20,000 euros, this customs value declaration does not have to be submitted. However, it can be requested from the border customs office.

The EU has concluded free trade agreements with some countries for international trade in goods. These are intended to enable the duty-free or duty-favoured exchange of goods with non-EU countries. If a delivery is made within the framework of such an agreement, the foreign exporter must enclose appropriate proof with the delivery in order to be able to claim the customs duty concessions. These preferential measures thus represent preferential treatment under customs law for goods from certain countries and territories, which are integrated into the Electronic Customs Tariff (ECT) as preferential tariff rates. In certain cases, preferential proofs can be waived. The EU importers should additionally have the preferential proofs checked by the competent customs office in the EU. This serves as protection against having to pay customs duties due years after the trade transaction has been completed and could become necessary if the preferences promised by the exporting company turn out to be incorrect after all. The verification of foreign preference documents and the initiation of verification by other authorities when importing, for example, medicines, plant protection products or animals, can be applied for at the customs office.

When the goods arrive in the EU, the importer may be obliged to pay duties. These may include the following duties: Import duty, anti-dumping duty, countervailing duty and preferential duty. Furthermore, the payment of import turnover tax may be required. All duties must be paid to the customs office.

The import procedure under foreign trade law is regulated in the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) and the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV).

If the EU company wants to export goods to other countries, different regulations apply in some cases. Here, too, the contacts with the authorities for exporting goods to third countries differ from those for exporting to countries of the European Union. Regardless of whether it is extra- or intra-trade, the Customs Information and Knowledge Management, the Chambers of Industry and Commerce and the Chambers of Trade advise exporters on questions regarding export bans and restrictions.

 

Export to EU state

When exporting goods to other member states of the European Union, a one-time application must be made to the Federal Central Tax Office for the VAT identification number. The EU companies have the option of having the identification number of the corresponding recipient verified at the Federal Central Tax Office.

According to the Value Added Tax Act (UStG), the intra-Community delivery of goods is exempt from value-added tax. According to this, an intra-Community supply exists if, in the case of a supply, the company or the person receiving the supply transports or dispatches the object of the supply to the rest of the Community and the person receiving the supply is an entrepreneur who has acquired the object for his or her own business and the acquisition of the object from the person receiving the supply is subject to turnover tax in another Member State. In contrast, supplies of goods from businesses in the EU to private individuals in the other EU Member States are generally subject to the EU turnover tax. However, the delivery thresholds of the destination countries of the movement of goods must be observed. Deliveries of goods must be declared to the tax office in the advance VAT return. This must be done by all companies subject to turnover tax.

In addition, the exporting company must provide proof of receipt. The confirmation of receipt serves as written proof to the tax office that the tax-exempt intra-Community delivery has also reached the EU country. This is intended to prevent tax evasion. This proof can be provided by having the recipient of the goods confirm the delivery.

After the delivery has been made, the exporting company must submit reports on intra-Community trade statistics to the Federal Statistical Office. All companies subject to VAT whose shipments to the other Member States of the European Union exceeded the value of 500,000 euros in the previous year are obliged to report the data on intra-Community trade on a weekly or monthly basis.

In addition, data on tax-exempt intra-Community supplies, the so-called recapitulative statements (ZM), must be reported to the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt).

 

Export to non-EU countries

Before exporting to non-EU states for the first time, the EU exporters are obliged to apply for an EORI number from the Customs Information and Knowledge Management, which enables the unique identification of the exporting company, compare the explanations on the EORI number above under Import. If a company wishes to export goods such as weapons or narcotics abroad, export licences must first be applied for and issued. Depending on the type of goods to be exported, various authorities are responsible for issuing these licences: the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), the state institutes for agriculture and food, the state institutes for medicinal products and medical devices and other specific state authorities such as the municipal veterinary office. An EORI number is required for export licence applications. The Federal Office of Economics and Export Control sometimes forwards the applications to other authorities, such as the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy or the Federal Intelligence Service. In addition to the application, a declaration of the end-use of the goods must be made and the order and contract documents as well as, if applicable, technical documents must be submitted.

Since exporting companies must also comply with the import regulations of the country of destination, this may result in further contact with public authorities in the EU. It is possible that none, some or all of the following documents have to be provided by the companies. This depends on the requirements of the business relationship and the import requirements prevailing in the country of destination. For example, a preference certificate can be applied for at the customs office. This proof certifies that the goods are exported within the framework of a free trade agreement and that the respective company is therefore entitled to claim customs exemptions or concessions in the country of destination. In addition, the certificate of origin for the goods to be exported can be applied for at the Chambers of Industry and Commerce and at the Chambers of Crafts. The certificate of origin can be applied for online using the eUZ web application introduced at the end of 2019. In contrast to the preferential certificate, this certificate certifies that the exporter is not a member of a trade agreement and for this reason must pay customs duties in full. In many countries, this certificate of origin is a prerequisite for importing goods. To apply for the proof of preference at the customs authority and the certificate of origin at the chambers of commerce and industry, proof of the origin of the goods and each of its components must be submitted. Furthermore, commercial invoices can be certified by the chambers.

Before the goods can be exported, the export of goods must be declared at the customs offices. This declaration varies depending on the value of the goods. If the value is less than 1,000 euros or the weight is less than 1,000 kg, no written formalities are required. The goods can be declared verbally at the border customs office, stating the goods number, EORI number and, if applicable, the required export licences. The exporter is then issued a confirmation of final export by the border customs office. However, if the value of the goods exceeds 3,000 euros, the export declaration must be made in writing to the competent inland customs office. For this purpose, among other things, the commodity code and the EORI number must be indicated and any required export licences must be submitted. The inland customs office transmits the declaration to the border customs office and to the Federal Statistical Office for the purposes of foreign trade statistics. The exporting company then receives the export accompanying document (ABD) from the inland customs office, which must be presented at the border customs office. This document serves as proof of the tax-free export of goods to the tax office. The exporter receives confirmation of the final export from the border customs office. The goods can then be exported to non-EU countries. If, on the other hand, the value of the goods is between 1,000 and 3,000 euros, the exporting company is free to choose whether the declaration should be made orally at the border customs office or whether the written route via the inland customs office should be taken.

 

How satisfied are the companies with their contacts with the authorities?

The companies are predominantly satisfied with their contacts with the authorities. About 2 per cent of the contacts with the Federal Central Tax Office and the customs authority are rated as rather dissatisfied. Obtaining confirmation of final export from the customs authority is rated highest in satisfaction by the companies while applying for an export permit or licence is indicated with lower satisfaction.



source: https://www.amtlich-einfach.de/DE/Wirtschaft/Wirtschaftsbeziehungen/ImportExport/ImportExport_node.html