Which country levies customs duties on exports?

Customs law: all the facts that you absolutely must know and adhere to

Anyone who believes that customs law - today the Customs Code - originated in the 19th century is wrong. Because: Even in ancient times, customs were used. What is meant by customs law from then until now and what is part of the customs law (customs code)? You can find out in the following article!

All relevant topics in Customs law and themost important news about the Union Customs Code You will always receive timely and practical information from the information service"Current Customs Law".

Customs law: what is it?

As mentioned briefly at the beginning, the customs (law) comes from the 3rd millennium before Christie. The term “customs” comes from this greek teloswhich means as much as goal or payment. Since then, the original term “customs” has had different word constellations.

The resulting confusion within the German states - import duties, export duties and transit duties - was abolished with the Association Customs Act (1869) under the eyes of the German Customs Union and the regional customs union, and in 1871 it was converted into imperial law. The goal was a common external tariff!

Due to the rapidly growing industry and the latest technology, which spread internationally, the Association Customs Act was replaced by the Customs Act in 1939. Another change in customs law was processed in 1961 and lasted until December 31, 1993. From 01.01.1994 the now well-known customs code came into force.

Traders (national and international), states and co. Are currently adhering to the Union Customs Code (UZK) that was in place in 2013. However, this was only legally and legally enforced from May 1st, 2016.

Customs meaning and its application

Customs duties are taxes that are collected within the meaning of the Tax Ordinance. Even if tariffs are part of our “society”, they are severely criticized. Apparently they prevent international trade in goods. However, tariffs are one of the oldest taxes that have been levied since the division of states. However, since there is no precise definition of “customs”, all taxes are meant that are levied for the import and export of products or goods.

Danger: Customs duties within the meaning of the Tax Ordinance are not to be equated with sales tax (import sales tax).

In the EU, the Union Customs Code applies. These include, among other things

  • Customs Code and Implementing Regulations
  • uniform customs tariff
  • Legislation on duty exemption
  • international agreements

Danger: Not related to customs law, but anchored in the customs administration, include the Social Security Code, the Criminal Code and the Code of Civil Procedure.

General legal basis of European customs law

In Germany, the legal basis is anchored in the Customs Administration Act. The common legal basis of the EU can be found in the Union Customs Code. Furthermore, these legal bases of the EU are built on different levels. Two areas are extremely important - international law and EU community law.

The international law is influenced by EU customs law. International treaties, the basis of which are international agreements and conventions, are of great importance in this regard. They were negotiated and concluded under the eyes of the international organization. On the one hand, the essential components are WTO and on the other hand the WCO.

  • WTO (World Trade Organization) - The World Trade Organization has enormous influence on customs law. It was founded in Switzerland - Geneva - on January 1st, 1995. In the meantime, 161 member countries and some observation countries have joined. One of the tasks of the WTO is the responsibility of the HS (Harmonized System). This is used to describe and code goods.
  • WCO (World Customs Organization) - The World Customs Organization was founded in Brussels in 1952. The task of the WCO is to maintain international connections and to deal with existing problems. There are currently around 154 countries that implement the content of the WCO.

The European Community Law plays an important role alongside international law. At this level of EU customs law, the "Treaty establishing the EU Economic Community“Enormously important. The EEC was legally closed in Rome in 1957. The members signed it off

  • Coal and Steel Community (France)
  • Italy
  • FRG
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg.

Customs duties are always relevant when goods are transported across a customs border. Nonetheless, many tariffs are critical. Reason: It is believed that this hinders international trade in goods. It is also assumed that the increased cost advantages lead to a loss of welfare. In terms of welfare effects, however, a distinction is made between two areas - small country and large country. In a large country, the tariff has an enormous impact on the world market price. In contrast, nothing changes in a small country, and there are hardly any changes in the price of goods in small countries.

Customs law always comes into play when it comes to the Import, transit or export deals with goods that require a delivery. An overview of the tariffs mentioned shows what is important.

Import duties find great importance in customs law. After all, the state gains foreign currency through import duties (linking) and can also protect its own economic companies from foreign competition. Foreign currencies find their guidelines in the financial tariff and protection against competition in the protective tariff.

Are not allowed Transit duties According to Article V: 3 GATT (link), therefore trucks that only pass through different countries without delivering goods within these countries are marked and sealed at the same time. The vehicles can be recognized by an additional license plate "TIR".

Export dutiesis seldom raised - after all, it is in your own interest to sell goods abroad and thus make a profit. On the other hand, there are export subsidies - these are state services for the export of goods. The special thing about these products - they are not competing goods, but should be made competitive. If one puts export subsidies on the same level as the EU, one always speaks of export refunds and subsidies.

All relevant topics in Customs law and themost important news about the Union Customs Code You will always receive timely and practical information from the information service"Current Customs Law".

Other important tariffs and their meaning

Customs law is not only concerned with the import, export and transit of goods.

Customs law is also relevant when it comes to

  • Weight inches,
  • Ad valorem duty,
  • Fiscal tariff and financial tariff,
  • Protective tariff,
  • Anti-dumping duty,
  • Retaliatory tariffs,
  • Educational duty
  • and the optimal tariff.

Note: No customs duties are levied within the EU, as all states form a customs union.

Customs law in the EU and its implementing acts

In the EU, the Union Customs Code and its implementing acts apply. With the help of customs law, states determine which tariffs apply to which countries for which products or goods. Furthermore, the implementation of customs law is defined by the administration. The Customs Code came into force in 2013 (October). A few days later - also in October - the definition of the Union Customs Code (UCC) was adopted and presented in the new basic legal act. The customs code has been in use since June 2016. After the UCC came into force, all member states will work together with the EU Commission and respect the implementing regulations.

The Lisbon-Contract contains the regulations and the implementation law, whereby 2 legal acts are particularly important and stand out: DA and IA. You can find another brief insight in this regard under Implementation Law.

Implementation law - DA and IA

One of the most important underlying requirements in implementation law is the exchange of information between those involved and the customs administration, which should only take place electronically. However, the ATLAS IT procedure had not yet been adapted at this point in time, as the time window between publication and outstanding technical specifications was far too short. Now - in 2018 - the situation has calmed down and the technology can be used by every economic operator.

Implementation law is divided into two main areas - Delegated Acts (DA) and Implementing Acts (IA). Both legal acts are of great importance for the rights of users and entrepreneurs.

What are the main changes in the Union Customs Code and implementing law?

The decisive legal changes are among others in the areas

  • Authorized Economic Operators
  • Customs debt
  • Customs procedure
  • Internal and external dispatch
  • Security in the temporary storage of goods
  • Overall security - reduction in security
  • Simplification of the procedure for the export of goods
  • Binding information from customs
  • Customs value
  • electronic data exchange

In the following, we will briefly cut out each essential area so that you know what it is at a glance:

Who are Authorized Economic Operators?

The AEO (Authorized Economic Operators) have had further advantages in terms of implementation law since the innovation. You are exempt from the obligation to present, a deferment of payment is approved (certain requirements), from 2020 central customs clearance is to take place for most of the member states and the focus is on self-control.

There is also a simplification to achieve AEO status. All AEOs are assured of tax reliability. Furthermore, practical and professional qualifications that are directly related to the activity are to be supported in order to achieve the status.

What is meant by customs debt?

The customs debtor is no longer just a person, but also the person who provides incorrect information when declaring the customs - provided that the incorrect information leads to the waiver of customs duties in whole or in part.

Despite this, it is now easier to revise an extinction of the customs debt more economically. However, it must be proven that the false information was not given willfully.

Customs procedure: what is anchored there?

There are innovations in the customs procedure with regard to the release for free circulation. Furthermore, the focus is on special processes that relate to shipping, storage, refinement and use. Changes have also been made to the customs procedure of the implementing law for the export of goods / products.

Internal and external shipping of goods

Internal and external shipping are hardly affected by changes in customs law. Reason: The existing shipping system has so far proven to be good, both on a national and international level. But: The shipping of goods by rail had to be adapted to the current situation of the electronic shipping process with innovations.

For this reason, it is planned for 2019 to adapt CIM waybills, container waybills and transport notes to the IT system - ATLAS-Versand. This applies to all 28 member states. Another advantage: once the changes in customs law come into effect, security deposits are no longer required - but for the first time this only applies to shipments by rail.

Security in the temporary storage of goods

Art. 148 UCC stipulates that goods may be temporarily held in custody. In addition, a permit and security are required. In any case, this is still the case as long as the IT systems are not fully adapted to the UZK. Therefore, the transitional provisions apply as long as In the area of ​​special procedures, for example goods from a customs debt, special features also apply and a security deposit must also be paid. More details are still pending.

Overall security - reduction in security

This means that a total security for goods on the import duty amount or export duty amount, as well as the customs debt for several processes, the customs declaration and the customs procedure can be given. However, a permit is only possible if:

  • residency in the customs area of ​​the EU,
  • there are no violations (whether new or repeated) of customs or tax regulations.

A deposit of the security can take place as cash security or a declaration of commitment. But: Again, this is only possible if the economic operator can provide satisfactory evidence that is relevant to the system. This can include: keeping business books and transport documents.

Simplification of the procedure for the export of goods

The focus here is on simplifications in the area of ​​the registration procedure according to Art. 166 ff. UZK and the entry in the bookkeeping in the sense of Art. 182 ff. UZK.

Danger: Please do not confuse the "entry in the bookkeeping" with the current "entry procedure" according to the ZK. Only a simplification is made by dispensing with the electronic data exchange between all parties involved at the time of the goods movement.

Binding information from customs

The BTI (binding customs tariff information) has shortened its period from 6 years to 3 years. In addition, a decision of the binding tariff information is no longer legally binding only for the customs authority but also for the holder of the BTI.

Danger: When making the customs declaration, you MUST make a clear reference to the binding tariff information.

Customs Value - What's New?

Significant changes in terms of customs value are important.

  • It is no longer possible to register prices as a first sale in the area of ​​pre-sale deals.
  • Since 01/01/2018 it has been possible to determine the transaction value on the basis of a previous sale of the product. However, this can only be done if the person is bound by a contract that was concluded before January 18, 2016.
  • An expanded addition of license fees
Electronic data exchange in the ATLAS IT system

Since the cut-off date, all data exchange has only taken place electronically. This relates to applications, decisions and registrations. The electronic data exchange is carried out via the ATLAS IT system. It is also important to know that, for example, the “Proof of Unions Status” (PoUS) is used for the storage and processing of the proof of status of the community goods.

What is the customs valuation law

The customs valuation law is a service regulation. It is classified as a positive system. Exact compliance with the customs valuation law determines the customs valuation. The customs valuation law was changed by the GZD (General Directorate) with the approval of the BMF. The changes according to the customs valuation law are valid from November 10th, 2017. The Directorate-General has pointed out particular changes in customs valuation law. Affected are:

  • Purchase transactions between resident partners and the Union, whereby here reference is made to the export according to Article 128 UCC-IA.
  • According to customs valuation law, the version of the leaflet corresponds to Annex 8, Paragraph 60 of the E-VSF-Nachrichten
  • The customs valuation law states that the responsibilities and tasks of the Federal Customs Valuation Office have been changed. The federal agency no longer answers questions from economic operators in individual cases. Affected are paragraph 7 3 DV, paragraph 8, paragraph 60, 65 and paragraph 77 sentence two.

Union Customs Code (UCC) - What is it?

As already mentioned several times, the basic regulation of the EU Parliament of the Union Customs Code came into force in October. The very extensive implementation required further clarification and application of the basic regulation. However, further necessary documents were required for this, but they were only made public in December 2015 and March 2016. You can find more on the subject in the in this in-depth article on the "Union Customs Code".

All relevant topics in Customs law and themost important news about the Union Customs Code You will always receive timely and practical information from the information service"Current Customs Law".

Delegated regulation (includes the transitional regulations)

The main changes that determine customs law have been made in the transitional regulations. The delegated regulation also includes regulations that do not need to be adapted to the IT system. Areas affected include the origin of goods, goods preference, customs value, customs debt and custody (temporarily). You can read more about this topic in the article -Answers to 9 important questions about customs and the UCC - exquisite.

Obligation to participate in the ATLAS electronic export procedure

Everyone is obliged to participate in the electronic export procedure (ATLAS export).This applies to all registrations, regardless of whether they are being transported by road, air, post or rail. However, there are permissible exceptions which come into force if:

  • There are prerequisites for an oral or implied declaration of export,
  • the export of goods is available under an ATA Carnet (contractually recognized customs document)
  • or the application of the safety and failure concept takes place.

Tip: You can find out more about ATA carnets in the article of the same name Carnet!

Submission of the electronic export declaration

Everyone who takes part in the ATLAS process must also have suitable and certified ATLAS software. Economic operators who have such software can use this method to complete all customs formalities. However, in order to participate in electronic data exchange, you have to register with the customs administration using the ATLAS IT procedure. For more information on the ATLAS process, search the categoryATLAS export declaration.

What does the duty exemption regulation include?

In the customs exemption regulation, low value shipments are a main component. Goods - regardless of the sender or recipient - are defined as the total value of 22 euros. Total value means: value of goods including shipping value.


Episode: Here the duty exemption regulation applies in full. Means: the exemption applies to customs duties and import sales tax.

Goods with a low value are also anchored in the customs exemption regulation, but with one exception in which the goods are duty-free but not exempt from import sales tax. These are products that have a total value of 22 to 150 euros.


Episode: The shipment is subject to import sales tax.

Important to know: You have to determine whether the value limits are adhered to, because the total value is decisive. In addition, what is decisive for customs is what amount was paid by the customer (actual amount). This also includes the shipping costs. Because: these are not filtered out during the calculation.

All deliverers (courier companies and Co.) are affected and not just - as one suspects - the Deutsche Post. The type of shipment, whether letter, parcel, parcel, etc., must also be completely disregarded.

Important to know: For coffee of all kinds (roasted coffee, filter coffee or the like), customs duties and import sales tax are waived up to a goods value of 22 euros, BUT the consumption tax is charged. This can be read in Section 1 (1) of the Import Excise Duty Exemption Ordinance.

This tax can also be called the “coffee tax”.

What is the excise duty?

A consumption tax is the tax that is imposed on certain goods that are consumed or used. This form of tax is paid by the buyer of this type of goods. This includes taxes on alcohol, electricity, tobacco and mineral oil. Another typical consumption tax is sales tax. A consumption tax of this kind is subject to indirect taxes for Germany and all other countries in which a consumption tax is due for certain goods. Each country is authorized to levy a consumption tax independently. However, competition between countries must not be disrupted.

The consumption tax is levied in the same amount

  • domestically
  • for commercial imports from all EU member states
  • Import from third countries

Note: With this form of taxation, the consumption tax supports the state budget.

If you want to export goods that are subject to a consumption tax, the two-stage electronic export procedure and the data-based shipping procedure are used. Traffic is monitored and transported by the EMCS - Excise Movement an Control System. The EMCS is an IT system that monitors the transport of goods with excise duty using real-time data between the member states (Germany and Co.) (ZK-DVO).

Exemptions for commercial transactions

There are a variety of goods that are exempt from duty and tax. However, they are subject to customs surveillance. This monitoring measure ends for the economic operator when the conditions specified for it are no longer applicable. The goods in commercial transactions for which the exemption counts can be found in the following generic terms.

  • Imported goods for promotion
  • Advertising printed objects for advertising
  • Samples or sample goods with low value
  • Exemption for all low value shipments
  • Used or used products that were used for exhibition purposes
  • and finally goods that are in the (personal) luggage of the traveler

What exactly is meant by that? Read the following section for a brief look

Imported goods for promotion

If you would like to make use of this area of ​​exemptions for commercial transactions, prior notification to customs is mandatory. Customs will then decide whether this is an option for you.

Advertising print and advertising items

Everything that has to do with advertising print - catalog, leaflet or price list - fall into this area and, if this is evident, are exempt from duty under certain conditions. To ensure visibility, you should observe the following criteria:

  • The name of the provider in the third country must be visible on the printed product.
  • The consignment with the printed product may only be sent as a single copy. If there are several print products, only one single item of each copy may be present in the shipment.
  • Shipments that contain several individual print products must not exceed the maximum weight of 1 kilogram.

Danger: Items that you want to import may only be used for advertising purposes and accordingly have no commercial value.

Example: Products (cups, pens, umbrellas and CO.) Must not have any advertising imprint from the sender. There is the possibility of using it outside of advertising purposes.

There are a few more conditions, but more about that in the Customs category.

Samples or sample goods with low value

In this area, goods can be imported duty-free if they are used for representation and definitely (cannot) serve any other purpose.

Example: If you would like to deliver a scarf or new footwear to a company so that the item can be sold by this company, this is only tax-free if the product can be recognized as a sample. In order for customs to recognize this, radical measures must be taken. For example, a huge hole has to be deliberately cut into the scarf. In the case of footwear, it is common to perforate the sole in such a way that it is no longer wearable.

These measures are certainly difficult for one or the other to understand, but there is nothing else to do if you do not want to pay the customs duties. If you do not follow these measures, the full duty is due to customs.

Note: If it is a small sample (pen, block, nail gel or similar) in a very small amount, it is free of customs duties without damaging it.

Exemption for all low value shipments

Duty-free can be claimed for goods with a low value - up to a total value of 150 euros. The whole thing has a small catch, of course: the value limits are different and so you have to find out exactly which customs and tax exemption apply to which border.


Used or used products that were used for exhibition purposes

If you would like to take advantage of discounts in this area, the products - samples, samples, advertising material - must be demonstrably from public events. It can be:

  • measure up
  • Exhibitions
  • Agriculture
  • Trade shows such as industry or craft.

It must also be clear that the goods are used or consumed.

Other events relevant to the Customs Exemption Ordinance include: exhibitions and events that serve the charitable purpose, international organizational meetings of representatives and the like.

The situation is different with goods that are used for demonstration. It should be noted here that these are processing samples. If it can be proven that these products are processing samples, they are exempt from customs duties.

Customs tariff: what does it say?

"Customs duties are only to be applied if the customs debt exists". The most common reason for a customs debt occurs when goods are released for duty-free circulation. The amount of the import duty is listed in the GZT (Community Customs Tariff). Due to the high level of customs clearance for imports, many customs offices have been equipped with the electronic customs tariff (EZT). The previously used printed labor tariffs are no longer available.

Customs tariff number - brief overview

The customs tariff number is nothing more than a goods number. With the help of this, goods can be clearly identified and classified. Behind the customs tariff number there is a precise description of the goods, for example

  • Tariff quotas
  • Anti-dumping regulations
  • Tariff suspensions
  • Prohibitions and Restrictions
  • and hides the encryption of import sales tax rates.

If you would like to know more about the customs tariff number and how it is structured, follow the informative articles in theCategory Customs tariff number.

What does harmonized system mean?

The harmonized system arises from the nomenclature that was introduced for the description and coding of the goods, in short "HS nomenclature". There are currently 155 contracting parties to the agreement. But: More than 200 administrations are used in this regard. Mainly for the creation of the respective national customs tariffs and for the collection of business-related statistical data. The harmonized system nomenclature contains around 5000 product groups, which are legally and logically structured by a 6-digit code.

What is the TARIC?

TARIC stands for Tariff Intégré des Communautés Europpéennes - in German: Integrated Customs Tariff. This online database contains information - free of charge - which applies to the 8 most important member states

  • VAT
  • Income taxes
  • Corporate taxes
  • Social security contributions (employee and employer)
  • Inform energy and tobacco taxes.

In total, however, the TARIC contains information from a total of 600 taxes.

The TARIC is used as a basis for imports and exports and for trade negotiations. For the export and import documents, make sure that the TARIC code number is given.

What is the EZT for?

The electronic customs tariff, called EZT for short, is provided free of charge by the Federal Customs Administration. It covers the entire TARIC database of the EU and is supplemented by the national breakdowns and measures. You can query the relevant data using the 11-digit code number or the 8-digit product number.

If you would like to use the EZT for corporate purposes, the program is chargeable. In order to be able to use the electronic customs tariff, registration is essential.

Another task is assigned to the EZT - it is the automated tariff and local customs processing system. All German customs offices are equipped with the EZT.

Knowledge of national customs law

National customs law includes specific rules, among other things. These relate to the responsibilities of individual customs exemptions, the recording of the movement of goods and the powers of the customs administration. Furthermore, the national customs law deals with the border area (the proximity of the respective customs border of the country) of the EU external border. Also in the area of ​​national customs law there are duties of assistance of other authorities, the generalization as well as the authorization of

  • Procedural rules,
  • Customs offenses,
  • and customs offenses.

The national customs law is applied, for example, when small consignments and luggage are exempt from import duties. It is true that there are relevant regulations regarding duty exemptions, but ultimately the decision-making power rests with the customs administration.

National law also applies to service regulations, market regulation law, foreign trade, sales tax regulations and trade policy measures. Service regulations are anchored in national law, to which the customs administration, among other things, must adhere. However, there are other provisions here which are of great importance to people who have to carry out duties under customs law.

What is customs criminal law and where does it apply?

Another important part of customs law is criminal customs law. The task of this is to take action in the event of breaches of the customs laws. The difficulties lie in globalization and thus in the increasingly extravagant trade of all countries.

Mainly offenses are punished in customs criminal law that are wrongly declared or not declared at all. According to the customs criminal law, goods are kept secret or false information is given about the goods sent in order to save costs. Such criminal acts are punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment under customs law.

What is foreign trade law?

The Foreign Trade Act and the Foreign Trade Ordinance together form the basis for foreign trade law. In Germany, foreign trade law came into force in 1961, whereby all foreign trade is permitted under foreign trade law. There are certainly exceptions in foreign trade law - but these only apply if restrictions are expressly ordered.

The main task of foreign trade law is to regulate the traffic for foreign exchange, capital, services and other economic goods - with foreign countries. Foreign exchange laws existed until 1949, which were replaced by foreign trade law in 1961.

Foreign trade law is now heavily influenced by European law.

Customs Administration Act: Where to Find What

The duties of the administration are anchored in the Customs Administration Act in 9 parts. part

  • I deals with the recording of the movement of goods
  • II deals with the acquisition of customs regulations
  • III deals with the powers of the customs administration
  • IV is active in regulations for land and buildings in the border area
  • V serves the customs administration and the assistance obligations
  • VI Special provisions for free zones and other parts of the territory are in focus
  • VII deals with other regulations
  • VIII is active in the area of ​​other authorizations
  • IX serves the tasks of tax offenses, tax offenses and tax offenses in travel

Customs regulation - stands for ...

... the Customs Act and the Customs Administration Act. All paragraphs that are relevant to customs law are summarized here.

Section 1 contains information on the movement of goods across Lake Constance, while Section 2 provides information on customs roads. Sections 3, 4 and 4a deal with the customs airports, customs landing sites, traffic regulations and traffic restrictions as well as customs signs for watercraft. You can find out about the obligation to transport in Section 5 of the Customs Ordinance. From § 6 to § 8 of the Customs Ordinance, all matters relating to the exemption from presentation are covered.

You will also find in §

  • 8a - Participation in electronic data transmission
  • 9 - Moving goods out of the customs territory of the Community
  • 10 - Customs declaration documents
  • 11 - Regulations on exemption from import duties
  • 14 - Mouth Supply and Ship Supply
  • 15 and 16 - Dining car supplies and aircraft supplies, respectively
  • 17 - Diplomatic and consular goods

You can see all other paragraphs of the Customs Ordinance at Laws on the internet.

Author: Customs and Export Knowledge Editor

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