Goods that are imported into Germany from outside the European Community and the EU customs union must first go through customs procedures and be liable for any applicable duties at their point of entry. Imported goods must be accompanied by a customs declaration submitted in writing as well as an invoice in duplicate. In order to clear customs in Germany, all declarations must be filed electronically by the German importer and/or an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) using the German Customs Administration's ATLAS System.
Acquiring the title of an 'Authorized Economic Operator' can be of great value to companies either based in or with a subsidiary in the European Union that perform a large quantity of customs transactions. After successfully completing the application process, AEOs are entitled to simplified customs processing. The three types of certifications include AEO-Customs, AEO-Security and AEO-Full (for simplified customs and security procedures). Additionally, this status never expires and is valid in all 27 member states.
In order to complete customs procedures, the importer and/or AEO will need to know at least the following information:
- the importer's customs or EORI number as applicable
- the tariff code for the imported goods
- the value of the goods as evidenced by a commercial invoice
The CUSTOMS NUMBER is required for businesses which perform customs procedures only in Germany.
The EORI NUMBER is required for businesses and individuals who
- file customs, entry summary, or exit summary declarations anywhere in the EU
- and are based either in Germany or outside the European Union
- as well as all those who apply for AEO status.
This number applies to customs activities within the European Union as well as import licensing procedures in Germany. The EORI number is usually the same as the customs number with the prefix 'DE.'
Whenever companies perform customs procedures in several different EU countries they have the possibility of simplifying their administrative procedures by obtaining a single authorization. Under single authorization, businesses only file their customs declarations for activities in the European Community with a single customs administration. This customs authority is the one responsible for either the country where the company is based or the country where temporarily imported goods first enter the EU.
Both customs and EORI numbers as well as the AEO status and the single authorization can be applied for free of charge by filing the appropriate form(s) with the German Customs Administration.