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Your Guide to Germany Shipping Restrictions

Shipping to Germany? We'll give you the latest scoop on Germany shipping restrictions, new EU VAT tax laws, and everything else in between. That way you're well-equipped to ship to Germany. Let's dive in.
Your Guide to Germany Shipping Restrictions
Alexandra Ortolani

By Alexandra Ortolani

 

August 4, 2021

Shipping to Germany is made easy by the country’s inclusion in the European Union (EU), which maintains good trade relations with the US and other major countries.

Additionally, major domestic US couriers like UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL all ship to Germany. That said, before you ship to Germany, check to make sure your shipment isn’t prohibited, restricted, or mega-expensive to import.

This blog gives you all the information you need to ship to Germany quickly and cost-effectively. You’ll learn the most current information about duty and tax, the new EU VAT tax laws, as well as items restricted for import to Germany

If you ship to Germany using Easyship, you’ll automatically save up to 70% with our discounted courier rates.

German Flag and Shipping Restrictions

Table of Contents

The New EU VAT TAX Laws

As of July 2021, all imports to EU countries including Germany are subject to new regulations.

The EU Value Added Tax (VAT) tax laws underwent a significant overhaul and, fortunately, the changes simplified the process of shipping to Germany. The two major changes  that impact sending goods to Germany include:

  • New €150 VAT Threshold: All imports to EU countries including Germany, are subject to EU VAT tax. All sellers are required to charge VAT taxes at the point of sale for imports valued at €150 or less. Regular duty and tax rates still apply for imports valued at €150 or more. Learn more here.
  • Simplified VAT tax filing: A new electronic tax payment portal makes it easier to pay import tax and duty for goods imported to Germany. For orders below €150, you can now file a single monthly VAT return for all low-value exports to the EU. This leads to less paperwork if you’re a regular importer to Germany. Learn more here.

The Basics of German Taxes and Duties

All cross-border shipments must clear customs in Germany before they can be delivered. This means each shipment may be subject to duty and tax at customs in Germany, and your shipment will be delayed at customs until all duties and taxes are paid, if applicable.

The tax threshold is the value amount over which the importer pays taxes on the imported goods. In Germany, the tax threshold is €0. As mentioned above, mentioned about the new VAT laws make it so all shipments under €150 owe tax. Duty is charged separately based on the category of items being imported.

Germany calculates duty and tax fees using the Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) method. This means that the import duty and taxes are calculated based on the value of the imported goods as well as shipping costs. German imports are subject to a handful of duty and tax fees, including:

VAT Tax

VAT is a tax paid by the consumer whenever they purchase a good or service. The standard VAT rate in Germany is 19% on all imports and is applied to all shipments under €150 per the new VAT regulations.

GST Tax

GST is a tax charged at the point of sale)but later is reimbursed to everyone besides the buyer. Unlike VAT taxes, GST is a flat-rate percentage of the entire transaction.

Import Duty

Import duties vary by product category. Below is a list of product categories and the duties charged for each one when sending goods to Germany.

Mobiles: 0%

Dry Food & Supplements: 9%

Computers: 0%

Home Appliances: 2.5%

Cameras: 4.2%

Home Decor: 0%

Accessories: 12%

Toys: 0%

Accessories (Battery): 3.7%

Sports: 2.7%

Health & Beauty: 6.5%

Luggage: 3.7%

Fashion: 12%

Audio Video: 1.1%

Watches:0%

Documents: 0%

Jewelry: 0%

Gaming: 0%

Pets Accessories: 2.2%

Books & Collectibles: 0%

For instance, you pay an extra 6.5% to import Health & Beauty items to Germany per the import duty.

Understanding all the specific duties and taxes for a specific country is key for international shipping. That way there are no hidden fees and merchants aren’t caught off-guard when it comes to VAT tax, import duties, and everything in between.

Germany Shipping Restrictions and Prohibited Items

Every country, Germany included, restricts or prohibits the import of certain items. As per the Germany shipping restrictions, the country prohibits the import of a few items making it an easy country to ship to.

Prohibited items are forbidden by law to enter the country. If an item is prohibited, couriers will refuse to carry it. Here’s a list of items that are prohibited from entering Germany:

  • Drugs (including “over the counter” and certain nutritional supplements)
  • Endangered animals
  • Endangered plants
  • Explosives
  • Firearms
  • Meat and dairy products

Restricted items are items that you can send if you abide by the rules and restrictions. Below is a list of items restricted for import to Germany:

  • Animals
  • Chemicals
  • Currency
  • Leather products
  • Powdered milk and canned foods
  • Radioactive and toxic materials

Major couriers also reserve the right to refuse or limit the goods they import to Germany. Here are the shipping-restricted items by courier, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL when sending goods to Germany.

USPS Prohibited Items

In addition to the standard Germany shipping restrictions, USPS prohibits the following items in shipments bound for Germany:

  • Absinthe
  • Arms and weapons, including firearms, part of arms, ammunition, and imitation weapons
  • Articles bearing political or religious notations on the address side
  • Human remains
  • Lithium cells and batteries
  • Live plants and animals
  • Melatonin
  • Perishable infectious biological substances
  • Playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped
  • Pulverized cocoa beans
  • Radioactive materials

Importation of medicines also requires special authorization by German authorities as per the Germany shipping restrictions.

UPS Prohibited Items

UPS maintains its own list of items prohibited for import to Germany, including:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Animal skins (non-domesticated)
  • Articles of exceptional value (e.g. works of art, antiques, precious stones, gold, and silver)
  • Dangerous goods/hazardous materials
  • Firearms
  • Furs
  • Ivory and ivory products
  • Live animals
  • Money and negotiable items
  • Perishable goods
  • Personal effects
  • Plants
  • Pornographic materials
  • Seeds
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Unaccompanied baggage

Certain restricted items can be shipped via UPS on a contractual basis by shippers at higher volumes and comply with all regulations. Contact UPS to learn more.

FedEx Prohibited Items

FedEx prohibits the following items from being imported to Germany:

  • Food items: wild mushrooms, potatoes, caviar, food supplements, and food/feed of animal origin
  • Any propaganda-related material that’s negative towards the free democratic ordinances and establishments
  • Asbestos fibers
  • Counterfeit or pirated goods
  • Fighting dogs
  • Live animals
  • Fully automatic weapons
  • Indecent or obscene material
  • Medication expect for pharmaceutical manufacturers or with proper permits/licenses

Mandatory Shipping Documents to Import to Germany

Sending goods to Germany requires more documentation than domestic shipping.

Failing to complete the following documents may result in your shipment being stuck at customs indefinitely.

Fortunately, your courier will prompt you to complete all the necessary import and customs paperwork when you buy your shipping label. Easyship also generates all necessary customs paperwork for all your international shipments automatically, ensuring you clear customs without issues. If you’re shipping via freight, though, you’ll need to pay closer attention and perhaps contact the company for help.

The Single Administrative Document (SAD)

The Single Administrative Document (SAD) is a form used for customs declarations for all EU countries, including when sending goods to Germany. Having a single document for all EU countries also simplifies the trading process immensely.

The SAD, which serves as the importer’s declaration, also covers VAT and customs duties. This particular declaration is made by the importer and has:

  • Address of the buyer and seller
  • The type and number of packages
  • Country of origin
  • Country of purchase
  • Description of articles
  • Quantity or volume (in commercial units)
  • Terms of payment and delivery
  • Date and place of issue

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a legal document that describes the goods exchanged between buyer and seller. The items that are required on your commercial invoice include:

  • Name and address of shipper as shown on the address label, including contact and telephone number
  • Name and address of the recipient, including destination country and postcode
  • Invoice date
  • Total shipment value
  • Number of packages and their total weight
  • Shipper’s signature and date

Dangerous Goods Forms

If your products are considered dangerous, you’ll be asked to complete a dangerous goods form when sending goods to Germany.

Here are some of the most common dangerous goods:

  • Batteries (lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers and mobile phones)
  • Liquids
  • Imitation weapons

As long as you do your research, have secure packaging, complete documentation, and correct labeling, you’re on your way to shipping dangerous goods without hang-ups.

To learn more about shipping dangerous goods, check out our blog post.

Certificate of Origin

The country or territory of origin must be stated on the invoice. If the customs authorities doubt the correctness of the declared country or territory of origin they may request additional proof in the form of a certificate of origin.

The Certificate of Origin must meet the following customs stipulations:

  • Must be an original form
  • Must contain the shipper's original signature in ink
  • Must be issued by the Chamber of Commerce of the importing country
  • Must contain a seal or watermark in the paper
  • Must provide a detailed description of the goods.

Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI)

If you’re a shipper established outside the EU, you need to have an EORI number. Without an EORI, you’ll be restricted from lodging a customs declaration 一 and from making an exit/entry summary declaration. This will pose issues, primarily because these are necessary documents when shipping internationally.

EORI numbers are assigned by customs authorities to a company for import and export. To get your EORI number, request the number via the customs board of the exporting country. For personal use, you don’t need an EORI number even when sending goods to Germany.

Easyship Makes Shipping to Germany Easy

Shipping to Germany doesn’t have to be hard, as long as you have the necessary documents for importing into the country.

Major couriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and even DHL ship to Germany, though you’ll want to check if your shipment isn’t prohibited or restricted. That way you don’t run into any trouble with your shipment.

Easyship offers discounted rates from 250+ couriers and up to 70% shipping goods to Germany. Plus, we have all the information you need to know about Germany shipping restrictions.

No need to worry about preparing shipping documents or filling them in yourself when sending goods to Germany. With Easyship, we generate all necessary customs documents for a seamless clearance process, including:

  • Shipping label
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing slip
  • All customs documents

All you need to worry about is printing the items out and attaching them to your package.

Get started with a free account and you’ll save money with our pre-negotiated rates.


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