Foreign Trade Regulations
The legal basis in Germany for foreign trade and payment transactions is the Foreign Trade Act .
This act lays down the principle of freedom of foreign trade and payment transactions and also specifies the main restrictions. The export or intra-Community sale of weapons, ammunition and armaments material is also subject to the provisions of the Military Weapons Control Act, although the latter does not in fact count as part of foreign trade law.
In addition to the national rules and regulations, foreign trade and payment transactions may also be restricted by legal acts of the United Nations ( embargoes, prohibitions on exports, special regulations for certain goods and certain countries ) and the EU . The foreign trade in products that can be used for both civil and military purposes ( so-called dual use goods ), for example, is chiefly governed by European law, which since 1994 has been applied uniformly in all the EU member countries.
The most important implementing regulations under the Foreign Trade Act is the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance . This contains most of the rules and regulations pertaining to foreign trade and of relevance in normal everyday business, and also includes the relevant EU regulations. The Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance also includes supplementary rules and regulations such as procedural and notification requirements, and the addresses of bodies responsible for issuing permits.
Part of the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance is the so-called Export List ., which details any restrictions on exports. In principle, all goods can be exported from Germany without the need for a permit. Exceptions under the Foreign Trade Act, or in conjunction with the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance, apply to strategic military goods, certain raw materials and steel products, as well as specified agricultural products.
Because of the special importance of this area of foreign trade, the Import List , which specifies the general freedom of imports and any restrictions on imports, is part of the Foreign Trade Act itself. The Import List, within the framework of which goods can be imported without a permit, is divided into country lists and product lists.
Especially in the case of industrial products, the import of goods into Germany is almost completely liberalized. This means that the importer needs neither an import permit nor an import declaration. This applies to both residents, i.e. natural persons domiciled or having their customary place of abode in Germany, as well as legal entities or partnerships with a registered office or management headquarters within the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.
It also applies to residents of other EU countries, whether natural persons or legal entities.
The need to obtain an import permit is generally restricted to precisely defined product categories as well as any specific countries or goods where the country of purchase and/or origin is not included in the A/B list of countries and which are specifically indicated in the Import List.
Most goods for which an import permit is required are those which are subject to quantity restrictions ( quotas ), e.g. textiles or steel products.
The body responsible for the issue of import permits for the foreign trade in commercial goods ( including raw tobacco, flax and hemp from the area of the EEC market organizations ) is the
Bundesamt für Wirtschaft (BAW )
(Federal Economics Agency )
P.O.Box 51 71
Tel: 06196-404 0
Fax: 06196-942 260
Export permits for goods which are subject to the restrictions for foreign policy or security policy reasons are issued by the
Bundesausfuhramt - BAFA
(Federal Export Agency)
P.O.Box 51 60
Tel: 06196-908 0
Fax: 06196-908 800
International import certificates and delivery verifications are also issued by the Federal Export Agency (BAFA).
Import licenses may also be required for goods covered by certain market regimes of the European Economic community. This applies to farm products and certain goods made from farm products. The body responsible for issuing permits and licenses for the export and import of food and farm products is the
Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung - BLE
(Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food)
P.O.Box 18 02 03 60083 Frankfurt/Main
Adickesallee 40 60322 Frankfurt/Main
Tel: 069-156 40
Fax: 069-156 4444
In the case of imports which require a permit (and also those which do not), a certificate of origin or a declaration of origin must be submitted if this is stipulated in the Import List or in the import permit. A certificate of origin must be issued by an official body in the country of origin (and in certain cases also in the country of dispatch); a declaration of origin, on the other hand, must be made by the exporter or supplier on the invoice for the goods.
No certificate of origin is required for products originating from an EU member country or for goods in free circulation in another EU country and imported from there. A de-minimis exception applies as well. Imported goods may only be cleared for free circulation if import is not forbidden by any prohibitions or restrictions on cross-border trade in those goods. Such prohibitions and restrictions may result from a wide range of regulations.
Monopoly regulations relating to alcoholic beverages, restrictions on the trade in tobacco, beer, cereals, animal feed, cattle and meat, the provisions of the Calibration Act, applicable quality standards and classification grades (for fruit and vegetables) and the regulations on
the marking of crystal glass and textiles must all be complied with when such goods are imported.
Customs clearance of imported goods does not of itself imply their fitness for sale in Germany . All goods imported from other countries are subject to the same regulations concerning their fitness for sale on the German market as domestically produced
Whether goods, e.g. foodstuffs, which have been cleared for import into Germany are deemed fit for sale depends on the provisions of German law. Pharmaceutical products are subject to special licensing regulations. Technical equipment (e.g. machines) may only be put into free circulation if they comply with the work safety and accident prevention regulations.
It is therefore essential for foreign manufacturers and suppliers of goods intended for the German market to comply with the legal provisions, technical regulations and quality marks which apply to their products.
The most important issuing body for technical regulations in Germany is the
Deutsches Institut für Normung - DIN
(German Standards Institute)
German Information Centre for Technical Rules (DITR)
Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the DIN have launched "DIN-Info Point". This new service will provide U.S. industrie and business more efficient access to a database of almost one million German and European standards. Please contact
George S. Deeley
Tel: 202-463 5774
Fax: 202-463 3173
Other bodies which issue guidelines and standards for their specific areas are:
Verein Deutscher Ingenieure e.V.
(Society of German Engineers)
P.O.Box 10 11 39
Tel: 0211-6214 0
Fax: 0211-6214 575
VDE Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e.V.
(Association of Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Information Technology)
60596 Frankfurt am Main
Tel: 069-6308 0
Fax. 069-631 2925
A group of very important bodies in connection with safety inspection and testing are the
?Technische Überwachungsvereine" (TÜV), or technical control boards.
Compliance with quality regulations and standards is normally indicated on the product or in the product description and is intended to ensure that the manufacturer observes his duties of care and makes his product in accordance with the state of the art. In certain cases, this may also be evidenced by quality and test marks. Such markings are scrutinized and registered by the
Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung e.V.
(German Institute for Quality Assurance and Marking)
Siegburger Str. 39
53757 Sankt Augustin
Tel: 02241-1605 0
Fax: 02241-1605 11