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Importing goods in the European Union

Valid from the 1st July 2021 Germany has eliminated the tax free threshold. Meaning that all (!) goods, even samples, that are being sent from outside the EU to Germany must be declared and are not only liable to duty but also to taxation. For practice this means that your sample, glass or raw material doesn’t matter, is going into customs, even when the merchandise value is only a few cents. Customs is checking the merchandise value by reading of the accompanying documents taking the de minimis rule into account. The de minimus rule means that there is theoretically the necessity to pay duty and taxes but customs is not charging it.

The con of this procedure is that the sample is located at customs and not at our site and therefore we cannot start with the analyses. And we do not have any chance to make the process faster once it has started.

The tax procedure and some words in detail:

Normal customs clearance

All goods imported to the EU must be cleared by customs beforehand – irrespective of their value. (Well at least all goods that are allowed to be imported – please see https://www.zoll.de/EN/Businesses/Movement-of-goods/Import/import_node.html for details.)

There is a standard procedure to do so, as you might already know when you are regularly importing other goods to Germany (or any other European Union country). For details please see: https://www.zoll.de/EN/Businesses/Movement-of-goods/Import/Duties-and-taxes/Normal-customs-clearance/normal-customs-clearance_node.html

Customs value and rate of duty

For the determination of the customs valuation, several procedures are possible. The most common procedure and always the first method for valuation is the so called “transaction value” of the imported goods. The transaction value is the real price a customer (in the EU) has to pay according to an invoice to a supplier (outside the EU). The important word is “invoice”, meaning that if an invoice is part of the shipment, the price given there is the basis for calculating the rate of duty.

See also: https://www.zoll.de/EN/Businesses/Movement-of-goods/Import/Duties-and-taxes/Normal-customs-clearance/Customs-value/customs-value_node.html


For all goods imported into the EU an import turnover tax has to be paid. Responsible to levy this tax is also customs. The tax is independent from the rate of duty, but customs is not levying it up to a threshold of 1.- EUR tax, which is equivalent to about 5.20 EUR merchandise value, so that the merchandise value shall be lower than that.

Exception: Samples for analysis

Samples for analysing purposes are (according to article 95ff of the German “Zollbefreiungsverordnung”) exempted from the regulations regarding taxes and duty in Germany. A mandatory prerequisite is, that the goods being brought into the EU are the analysing material itself and are used completely for the analyses or are being quashed afterwards.

For details please see (unfortunately in German only): https://www.zoll.de/DE/Fachthemen/Zoelle/Zollbefreiungen/Aussertarifliche-Zollbefreiung/Pruefungs-und-Analysezwecke/pruefungs-und-analysezwecke_node.html

And what does that mean for samples being sent to IGR?

All goods being imported from outside the EU must be declared to customs. You know that procedure when you sell things to the EU from outside. The procedure for selling is in general the same as for sending samples.

For customs value calculation the transaction value procedure is normally not relevant, as the samples are not sold to us and therefore have no invoice/transaction value. Normally. But of course the goods have a merchandise value. If the value is very low, a pro-forma invoice might therefore be sufficient, when it is attached (best would be reachable from outside) to the parcel containing the sample. But, of course the sample runs through the procedure, meaning every parcel is checked individually and the pro invoice is cross checked and the result depends on its credibility.

But there is a faster and easier way: Simply contact us in advance to sending a sample. You would then get a form from us, the so called “Erklärung für Erprobungswaren (Formular 0123)”, that can be attached to the parcel instead of a pro-forma invoice and can also be sent electronically to customs. Additionally, when you declare the sample via the electronic way, you add the code “C33” in the relevant field and the sample is then exempted from customs.

This procedure has the nice effect, that the parcel is then not held by customs and is therefore be brought to us as a normal parcel and does not has to be picked up by us. This makes it much faster. Unfortunately this form has to be attached to every parcel and must be individually generated for every sample sent to us.


In a nutshell

For exemption from customs it is necessary that you contact us (phone or e-mail) every time before you sent the sample. We need some details like a concrete description and the weight or amount of samples and then you receive the relevant form that confirms the exemption from us via e-mail. This form then has to be put into the parcel or better be placed reachable from outside.

The entry declaration is of course still necessary, please remember to add the code C33.