Outside the EU
The Foreign Trade Act (AWG), the Foreign Trade Regulation and the legislative acts of the European Council and of the Commission (in particular Regulation (EC) No. 428/2009 determine German foreign trade with other countries. Distinctions are drawn depending on the nature of the goods and between trade with other EU States (the internal market) and third countries.
In the case of the supply of weapons, munitions and other defence goods , the Foreign Trade Act and the Foreign Trade Regulation apply in combination with the export list, laying down the duties of authorisation for trade with both other EU States (movement) and trade with third countries (export).
The legal basis for the movement and export of dual-use goods in third countries is the EC Dual-Use Regulation (Regulation (EC) No. 428/2009 of 5 May 2009), which is supplemented by the national regulations in the AWG and the AWV. This regulation likewise provides for certain duties of authorisation.
Exporting goods from Germany to a territory outside the customs territory of the Union
When exporting goods from Germany with a destination in an area outside the customs territory of the European Union, the export procedure is to be followed. This is set out in Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code from 19 October 1992 (ABI. L 302 from 19.10.1992, S. 1-50) (cf. article 161 and article 182 Customs Code) and additionally regulated in the Foreign Trade Regulation. This is designed for the application and monitoring of the communal and national foreign-trade restrictions on exports of Community goods and the re-export of non-Community goods in conjunction with a customs procedure with economic importance (e.g. customs warehouse procedure and inward processing). It also serves the safety of the supply chain.
The export of certain goods requires authorisation (e.g. defence goods, dual-use goods). Other elements must likewise be borne in mind, including EC regulations providing for embargos vis-à-vis certain States and persons, and foreign trade statistics, collected by the Federal Statistical Office.
Import of goods from third countries to Germany
When goods are imported from third countries, tariff and non-tariff restrictions must be observed:
- 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 other legal areas.
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 iron and steel products).
Goods of which the import is subject to authorisation and monitoring requirements under foreign trade law and particular procedural requirements are listed on the import list (Annex to the Foreign Trade Law). The import list is integrated into the Electronic Customs Tariff.
Import prohibitions for defence goods may be based on EU embargo regulations. Import prohibitions or other 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 rare animals for reasons of species conservation or for drugs for the sake of the protection of 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). Goods are covered by a index of goods (nomenclature).
Declaring goods for export
The export and re-export of goods with a destination in an area outside the customs territory of the European Union must be declared to the customs administration in the following way:
- electronically (for the commercial movement of goods) or in writing (if the IT systems are down)
- orally or implicitly (for consignments of low economic importance, e.g. in the case of tourist travel, small consignments)
The communication between participants and the customs administration is performed through the IT process ATLAS with EDIFACT messages. In Germany, the export declaration can be submitted via the Internet (Internet customs declaration) for the export procedures cited. The Customs Administration form centre holds, if necessary, required customs forms online.
The export procedure is in two stages, which means that export declarations are lodged with the competent customs office at the point of exit, and this customs office (generally the frontier customs office) monitors the physical departure of the articles from the customs territory of the European Community. Another procedure covers articles worth under EUR 3,000. Declarations may be lodged directly with the customs office at the point of exit for these.
For export or movement plans requiring authorisation, the basic point is to apply to the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA). Applications can also be made electronically using the ELAN form. To facilitate the procedures for the export of goods subject to approval, there are also bulk export authorisations.
The import of goods must likewise be declared to the Customs Administration (Article 79, Customs Code). Where import restrictions are imposed under foreign trade law in respect of industrial goods from third countries, the necessary import documents (e.g. import authorisations, control documents) must be applied for from the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA). Applications can be made electronically under certain circumstances.
Where import restrictions exist in respect of articles from the agricultural and food sector, the Federal Institute for Agriculture and Food (BLE) is responsible.