Entering the German textile market requires thorough research and preparation. There are many aspects to be taken into consideration such as standardization, labeling, import regulations and industry certifications.
STANDARDIZATION - The Textiles and Textile Machinery Standards Committee (Textilnorm) is in charge of establishing DIN standards for textiles, clothing as well as textile machinery. The different DIN standards define the requirements, dimensions, technical terminology as well as testing standards for special areas in the textile industry. Foreign companies must ensure that their textile products conform to all relevant standards in Germany.
LABELING - The German Textile Labeling Law lays the foundation for the labeling of textiles on the market. All textiles manufactured, imported and sold in Germany must bear a label indicating their raw materials composition. According to the law which applies to all textile products on the supply chain, textiles may only be sold if they possess the appropriate specification of the fiber contents, care and washing instructions as well as size in metric measurements. The Textile Labeling Law harmonizes with the EU Directive 96/74/EC in order to make sure that the labeling for textile fibers and other terms used on labels and relevant documents are uniform throughout the EU.
Even though care labeling symbols are not mandatory in Germany, the National Association for Textile Care Labelling, GINETEX, has defined an internationally recognized care labeling system for textiles based on trademark symbols. These care symbols provide traders, consumers and companies with the correct information about taking care of textile products.
IMPORT REGULATIONS - In order to import textile products into Germany, companies must make sure that their products present a certificate of origin (Ursprungszeugnis). Textiles coming from countries that have no bilateral agreements with the EU require an import license (Einfuhrgenehmigung) in order to enter Germany. Import licenses can be obtained from the Federal Office for Economics and Export Control (BAFA).
A good source for finding the correct tariff rates for importing textiles into Germany and the EU is the Integrated Tariff of the European Community, TARIC. This database contains information relating to tariff import regulations with the goal of applying uniform import measures within the EU. The German Customs Administration also offers importers the Electronic Customs Tariff (EZT). This database (in German) contains the tariff information already present in TARIC plus information about the corresponding national turnover tax and excise tax. Furthermore, the EZT informs about the certificates that must be presented when importing textile products into the country.
Furthermore, according to the REACh (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of chemical products) Regulation of the European Union (1907/2006/EC), manufacturers and importers of textiles containing potentially dangerous chemicals must register these substances to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and ensure the appropriate communication along the supply chain. The main goal of REACH is to control the safety of chemicals in consumer products, including textiles. For more information please refer to the website of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
CERTIFICATION - The most widely used and recognized certificate of quality for textiles in Germany and the EU is the Oeko-Tex Standard 100. This voluntary certificate provides the textile and clothing industry a uniform standard for consumers who specifically aim to buy textiles that are free of harmful substances. All raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of production are tested and certified for compliance with the standard.
Another widely used voluntary label is the European Ecolabel. This ''bio'' label stands for products that have been manufactured and can be recycled according to strict ecological requirements. The logo may be used after a thorough examination and certification process, on a number of different organic products including textiles. The label is awarded by independent Competent Bodies responsible for this seal at national level.