How to import to Germany, step by step process

Complete Procedures to import goods to Germany  

Import Licence process required in Germany


This post explains about import registration procedures to be obtained from Germany government authority for importation to Germany.


If you need to import goods or services, a onetime registration procedure is being completed in most of the countries.  Such import export licence may be obtained from concerned government department of Germany if required.

           For importing merchandise long term on a self-employed premise, the importer should register a business or company in the trade office of their local public authorities. On a fundamental level, an importer may participate in commercial activities without unique or special authorisation. There are, however, certain exceptions to this administer, e.g. for importing medications. Depending upon the legal document and the nature and extent of the commercial activity, an entry in the commercial register may also be required.

                  The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle, short BAFA) is a German federal agency. It publishes the conditions applying to the granting of import licenses and observation documents as declarations in the Federal Gazette.

                  Since  Germany falls  under  EU countries,  a common  trade policy is adopted  to import  most  of  the products .   A separate rules and regulations are applied to specific products when importing and exporting in the European Union called Integrated Tariff of the European Communities (TARIC code).   For any import, export or transit in EU countries, an EORI number is compulsory. EORI means Economic Operator Registration and Identification.  The European Union (EU) legislation has required all member states to adopt the Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) scheme. All importers, exporters and other transporters need to use a unique EORI reference number in all electronic communications with Customs and other government agencies involved in the international trade. This means that anyone involved with export, transit or import operations need to have EORI number.

Usually, import of goods to Germany requires three categories of procedures wherever required.  One-time registration procedures to act as an Importer in Germany, Specific import licence to import goods to Germany if applicable, and certain certification from concerned government agencies of Germany related to each import wherever applicable.

There is separate government agency who handles and regulate such specific products who issue import license or import permit.  However, specific licence to import goods is required only for certain specific goods restricted.  Based on trade policy of each country categories of products classified under freely importable, restricted to import.  Prohibited list of goods are not permitted to import in to the country.  The list of restricted goods to import and prohibited list of goods are notified time to time by government of such importing country which may be referred the official website of respective department of importing country.


Import licence or Import permit to import certain products to Germany

Import Licence or import permit has to be obtained from Germany government for importation of certain commodities to Germany.  There are separate Germany government agencies to issue such import permit or import licence. 

Prohibited goods notified by Germany are not allowed to import, hence no permit or licence is granted to import such goods to Germany.


Import to Germany by courier

Goods can be imported to Germany by courier.  However, there is limit of amount or quantity prescribed by Germany Government time to time.  If value or quantity is more than the prescribed limit, necessary procedures have to be completed in Germany to customs clear the imported goods by courier.


Import of personal effects to Germany

The goods for personal use can be imported to Germany as per rules and regulations of Germany Government amending time to time.   The import duty is fixed based on the nature of consignment, imposed by Germany Customs department modified time to time. 


This information is about import licensing procedures to import goods to Germany.  If you have to add more information about import permit and registration required to import goods to Germany, share below your thoughts.



Import Customs procedures in Germany, step by step


The information provided here details on how to import goods to Germany especially import customs clearance procedures in Germany.

German Customs Administration - Zoll

The Bundeszollverwaltung (Federal Customs Service) is a German executive and fiscal administrative unit of the federal government and part of the Federal Ministry of Finance. Zoll, abbreviation for the German Bundeszollverwaltung (Federal Customs Service)

As we have discussed in other post, import of goods to Germany requires three categories of procedures wherever required.  One-time registration procedures to act as an Importer in Germany, Specific import licence to import goods to Germany if applicable, and certain certification from concerned government agencies of Germany related to each import wherever applicable.

                       The Operators are required to fill out an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the goods are brought into the customs territory of the Union, using the electronic ATLAS-EAS (Automatic Rate and Local Customs Clearance System) procedure (Union Customs Code - UCC)

The Union Customs Code (UCC) is part of the modernisation of customs and serves as the new framework regulation on the rules and procedures for customs throughout the EU.

The official model for written declarations to customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The SAD depicts merchandise and their movement around the globe and is fundamental for trade outside the EU, or of non-EU goods. Goods brought into the EU customs domain are, from the time of their entry, subject to customs supervision until customs formalities are finished. Products are secured by a Summary Declaration which is documented once the things have been exhibited to customs officials.

The Summary Declaration can be made on a form provided by the customs authorities.  However, customs authorities may likewise permit the utilization of any commercial or official document that contains the particular information required to recognize the goods.  The SAD fills in as the EU importer's declaration.  It incorporates both customs duties and VAT and is substantial in all EU member states. The declaration is made by whoever is clearing the merchandise, normally the importer of record or his/her agent.


Now let us discuss about the process of import customs clearance procedures in Germany.

Once after arrival of import cargo at sea port or airport of Germany, such goods are unloaded by carrier at Germany customs bonded area.   Necessary customs import process has to be completed to take delivery out of customs area of Germany. 


  There are mainly three categories of permissions required to take import clearance cargo delivery from Germany customs bonded area.  They are Permission from Germany Customs authorities, Permission from Carrier of goods, permission from custodian of cargo handling at particular import customs port in Germany.


How to get permission from Germany customs to take import delivery of cargo arrived in Germany?


Either you (importer) or your customs broker can file the necessary documents for Import customs clearance procedures in Germany import clearance procedures.  The carrier of imported goods in Germany files IGMS (Import General Manifest) with Germany destination port customs authorities.   Before arrival of your goods, you can keep ready of all pertaining documents required for import clearance. The major documents required to import customs clear in Germany are Bill of Lading or Airway bill, commercial invoice, packing list, Cargo Arrival Notice, Freight certificate, purchase order or LC and other specific documents for your goods.

You need to track the import shipment of arrival in Germany port properly as you need to customs clear the cargo as early as possible on arrival of shipment. Otherwise, you may be imposed demurrage by Germany import handling authorities. Normally, a limited number of days of one, two or three are allowed by import handling authorities as free of cost time duration to take import delivery. You can complete Germany customs formalities within this time normally, subjected to produce of all required documents with customs.   If you are unable to customs clear the imported shipment in Germany port within the prescribed free days on arrival, you may have to pay storage charges to custodian of cargo at such Germany port of arrival of imported cargo.  Apart from storage charges by handling custodian of imported goods, you may have to pay charges to customs authorities of Germany also if applicable.


 The Germany customs entry filing is being done either by a customs broker or consignee against import shipment to be cleared out of Germany Customs.  The import entry information is filed based on the requirements of Germany customs updating time to time.


Once the cargo arrives in Germany port, carrier of goods files Import General Manifest (IGM) with Germany customs department. IGM is the details of import of goods to be filed with customs mandatory, by all carriers once goods arrived. Normally, each aircraft or vessel has one IGM number and each of consignments carries ‘line numbers’. So, each shipment carries a ‘line number’ and the total load of the said vessel or aircraft has an IGM number. Here, you will have one IGM number (common for one lot of goods arrived) and a ‘liner number’ for your particular shipment.


You need to enter IGM number in the specified column of import entry form electronically as specified by Germany Customs authorities. This number will be automatically linked with your document while filing uploading the import bill of entry details with Germany customs web software. The Bill of Entry number is generated at one place for all over the ports of Germany as per software queue automatically. If your goods are under green channel clearance, you can directly take delivery of cargo with simple procedures at Germany port.  Certain category of imported goods can be customs cleared freely from Germany customs authorities. 


The inspection if required is carried out under the supervision of necessary Germany customs officials and enters examination report in the system for the imported shipments wherever applicable.   Necessary other import customs clearance is completed with Germany customs authorities.  Final permission to move import cargo out of Germany customs bonded area is allowed, once Germany customs satisfies with their rules and regulations.


How does carrier of goods release import cargo arrived in Germany?


Once after arrival of goods in Germany Customs port, delivery order has to be obtained from carrier of goods at import customs location of Germany.  This is applicable for both Sea import clearance and air import clearance.  The import Delivery Order is nothing but a permission from Carrier of goods to take delivery of import cargo in Germany.  The carrier checks whether any due amount payable to them under the said import shipment arrived in Germany.  If freight payable at destination, necessary air freight is collected from consignee before releasing Delivery Order.  If freight already paid at load port, Delivery order is issued by carrier at destination port of Germany by collecting a nominal destination service charges. 


When does custodian of cargo release import cargo to consignee in Germany?


Custodian of cargo keeps custody of cargo at import customs location in Germany.  The custodian of cargo could be a government authority or private party who follows the norms of Germany government related to imports.  The custodian of imported cargo is responsible to safeguard the imported cargo arrived in Germany destination customs location by handling properly. 

Once after completion of import customs clearance procedures at destination port in Germany and collected Delivery Order from carrier of imported goods, the custodian releases imported shipment to consignee after collecting their charges if any. 


The information provided here details on how to import goods to Germany especially import customs clearance procedures in Germany.


Import documents required in Germany


Information provided here describes about documents required by each import in Germany which need to be submitted with customs officials for the clearance process.

The documents required for import to Germany to take delivery of import cargo is based on the product importing, multilateral, bilateral or unilateral trade agreements, and other trade policies of Germany government.  The import documents required in Germany also depends up on the nature of goods importing (General goods, Personal effects, Dangerous goods, Livestock etc.) , regular trade policy of Germany Government,   specific goods importing to Germany (Arms and ammunition, health products, food products, chemicals etc.)


However, the following documents required to import goods to Germany:


Import Customs clearance documents required in Germany


Customs Entry document: (specified by Germany customs) prepared by importer’s customs broker or Importer

Customs bond if applicable for specific goods importing to Germany or to claim import benefits from Germany government

Legal Undertaking (LUT) if applicable to claim import benefits from Germany government or to import specific products

Customs declarations wherever applicable:  Germany import customs clearance declarations as per specified format of Germany government.

Import Licence if applicable to be obtained from government agency of Germany.

Purchase order or Letter of Credit between Germany importer and overseas supplier of goods.

Commercial Invoice cum packing list issued by seller of goods

Certificate of Origin issued by competent authority of origin country of goods.

Insurance Certificate issued by the government authorized insurance service provider

Certificates of Inspection if applicable:  Some of the importers demands exporter (seller) through LC or Purchase order to inspect export goods to Germany by an internationally recognized inspection agency like SGS, BVQI, or other Quality inspecting agency. etc.

ATA CARNET/Temporary shipment certificate if applicable

Certificate of Analysis if applicable.  The buyer may insist the seller to enclose certificate of analysis about the goods.  The same certificate helps Germany customs authorities to confirm the product imported to Germany.

Certificate of Free Sale if applicable.  If goods are not commercially involved, a certificate of sale is attached by exporter along with goods dispatched.

Weight Certificateif applicable.   Weight certificate issued by exporter is required at various circumstances like satiability of flight, satiability of vessel, International road safety rules, import or export duty calculation, claiming export/import benefits from government etc.

Consular Invoiceif applicable:  Some of the importing countries insists embassy attested documents which is mandatory at importing country to customs clear goods.



Documents required for customs in Germany for specific products

Electronic Export Information if applicable

Certificate of Health or Sanitation if applicable

Generic Certificate of Origin if applicable

Dangerous Goods Certificate if applicable

Fisheries Certificate if applicable

Fumigation Certificate if applicable

Halal Certificate if applicable

Health Certificate if applicable

Ingredients Certificate if applicable

Inspection Certificate if applicable

Pre-Shipment Inspection certificate if applicable

Phytosanitary Certificate/quarantine certificate if applicable

Radiation Certificate if applicable

Dock Receipt and Warehouse Receipt if applicable

ISPM 15 (Wood Packaging) Marking certificate if applicable

Product manual or Product catalogue if applicable

Certified Engineer's Report if applicable

Chartered engineer’s certificate if applicable

Product specification certificate

Other specified documents if applicable



Bank Import documents in Germany

Purchase order or Letter of Credit

Commercial Invoice cum packing list

Pro forma Invoice

Bill of Exchange

Certificate of Origin

Insurance Certificate

Certificates of Inspection if applicable

Electronic Export Information if applicable

Certificate of Health or Sanitation if applicable

Other specified documents if applicable


This post explains about various documents at different levels that required by every importer need to be submitted with the Germany Customs Authority in order to obtain clearance of the consignment and subsequently move it out of the port of Germany Customs.


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