Germany is the European Union’s most politically and economically influential nation.
Germany is the EU’s strongest economy, and the fourth strongest in the world. In 2017, Germany’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) amounted to €3.3 trillion.
Germany is the 3rd largest export economy in the world, with its top exports including cars, vehicle parts, packaged medicaments, planes and helicopters. The top export destinations of Germany are the US, France, the United Kingdom, China and the Netherlands.
Importing from Germany is essential to businesses in these countries, and many more, to help produce high quality products. Thankfully, importing from Germany is a relatively simple process once you get familiar with it. That’s where we want to help.
Our guide to importing from Germany will outline the key steps in making the process as easy and stress free as possible.
Ensure Desired Goods Are Permitted Into Your Country
Once you have identified the goods you wish to import, you should check if it is legal to import them into your country.
Different countries have different banned imports, but many have banned the importing of firearms and Genetically Modified Organisms. Some goods you intend to import may also be subject to permits, quotas or restrictions by your government. It is not unusual to have restrictions on products like agricultural produce, pharmaceutical products, alcoholic products and so on.
For example, in order to keep prices stable for farmers, Canada blocks imports of dairy produce from other countries by imposing tariffs – of up to 270%!
In Europe, to protect human and animal health, all animals and animal products (including live fish, gametes and fish products) must be presented for veterinary inspection at an EU approved Border Inspection Post.
It is always the importer – that’s you in this case – that has the responsibility for ensuring that products meet standards in their own country and that they are legal to introduce at home.
Find Your Supplier And Place Your Order
Once you know your goods can be imported, it’s time to place your order. It’s crucial that you find the right supplier to ensure quality goods and a seamless delivery process.
One key tip we can offer you when importing from Germany is to be wary of low prices. If you come across a quote that is significantly cheaper than the others, it may be too good to be true. The lowest price always accompanies with it a high risk of quality.
Ensure you double check the materials and the manufacturing process of your desired goods, so you can feel confident in the products you are purchasing. Also, make sure your supplier has totally confirmed every spec of your target product, including the packaging.
Gather The Necessary Paperwork
Once you have selected your supplier, request a Proforma Invoice (P/I) for your prospective purchases to include the harmonized system number, description and value per item. Your P/I must show the weight & the packed dimensions as well as your term of purchase.
Other documents that are necessary when importing goods include:
- Packing List – Describes the goods in detail
- Bill of Lading – Sets out the contract for the goods’ transport
- Commercial Invoice – The document from which you pay the exporter
- Customs Invoice – Declares goods to Customs when importing to your country
- Certificates of Origin – Verifies where various materials and parts originated. Necessary for goods eligible for favorable tariff treatment under particular trade agreements
Pay For Your Goods
If you’re importing goods from Germany into another EU country, your cost will be reduced, as the movement of goods is free between EU member states.
In 2009, an agreement was signed between the EU and Canada to include Canada in the free trade of industrial products, including fish and other marine products, and processed agricultural products.
Regardless of what you’re importing, or where you are importing to, you should add up the following costs to get your total cost of importing:
- The product price from the supplier
- Shipping charges from a German freight forwarding company
- The charges of customs clearance, duty and tax
- Land transport to your premises
Arrange The Transport Of Your Goods
While it’s more than likely what will happen, it’s definitely worth checking with your supplier in Germany to ensure they will agree to ship from their nearest port or airport. This will help reduce shipping costs and give you more control over the shipment.
Keep in mind shipping by ocean is a slow process, meaning more long-term planning is required than for domestic product purchases. Importing from Germany can take time, especially if importing vehicles or machinery. If importing these types of goods to the US or Canada, it can take up to four weeks.
If importing smaller goods to another EU country from Germany, a general rule is that you can count on a shipping time of around 4 days. Remember, the entire process includes shipping time, the gathering of documentation, inland travel, customs clearance and port/terminal handling.
Obtain Your Shipment
While waiting for your goods, you should check your commercial invoice, packing list, the bill of lading, and other related freight documents. If problems arise, you should know the steps your goods go through when being cleared by Customs in your country.
Once your goods arrive, make arrangements for your customs broker to clear them through customs (and quarantine if applicable).
If everything goes well, it is your right to pick up your shipment. If you choose a delivery service, you can just wait for your shipment to arrive at your designated drop-off point.
What Is The Best Way To Pay Suppliers In Germany?
Sometimes finding a supplier is the easy part, as sending money to Germany is the hard part.
Sending money internationally can be expensive, thanks to the high fees and unfair exchange rates that are charged by banks.
Wire transfers also take days, if not weeks, to be processed and can involve physically going to a bank and filling out forms, especially for large payments.
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Using our platform for payout in the local currency of your beneficiary guarantees they pay no fees to receive funds into their account.
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