Introduction to Customs Regulations for Global Trade

Lilla Zsitnyanszky

21. April 2023

German Version

Navigating EU customs regulations can be complex. What legal information do you need to consider for your export/import processes? What are the customs regulations in the EU and Germany? Where can you find the most important information? In the following article, we have compiled the key fundamentals and sources for you.

Whether you handle customs clearance through a customs broker, external service providers, or by yourself, you will inevitably encounter cryptic abbreviations and legal questions at some point. There are numerous regulations and provisions that must be observed in global trade, both at the EU and national (German) levels. We will list the essential elements here to give you a brief overview. The good news is that customs law is harmonized within the customs union (EU). This means that a customs regulation is identical and applicable in both France and Germany. However, there are "regulatory gaps" that need to be filled by national (German) customs and duties law.

Regulations at the EU Level:

Regulations in Germany / German Customs and Duties Law:

  • National (customs) legal provisions, e.g., Customs Administration Act, Foreign Trade Act, Value Added Tax Act, etc.

  • Various national ordinances, such as the Customs Ordinance, Foreign Trade Statistics Ordinance, Value Added Tax Implementation Ordinance, etc.

  • Customs Administration directives 

  • Decisions of the Financial Courts (EFG), judgments of the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH)

The Fiscal Code (AO) contains general provisions and fundamental regulations for tax and duty law. Import and export duties (e.g., customs duties, agricultural levies, import VAT), as well as excise taxes, are considered taxes under the Fiscal Code, which is why customs offenses ultimately fall under tax offenses. The AO regulates, among other things:

  • Liability regulations (Sections 69 ff. AO) 

  • Conduct of customs audits (Sections 193 AO ff.) 

  • Tax offenses and administrative offenses (Sections 370 AO ff.)

traide Support

There is a wealth of information and legal regulations to consider in the customs process. A significant part of this is the correct customs tariff number. If the classification is incorrect, everything else goes wrong: duty collection, export declaration, preference law, export control, excise taxes, VAT, etc.

Why Traide AI?

At traide, we are entirely dedicated to the customs tariff number. Our goal with traide is to offer an intelligent software package that achieves and maintains the completeness, timeliness, and integrity of a company's entire product inventory (sometimes millions of products) according to customs tariff requirements. Furthermore, we address issues that arise even before the actual tariff determination process, significantly influencing it. This particularly concerns the quality of product descriptions, which often provide insufficient information or have unstructured and scattered information (e.g., in HTML format on a webshop or in product datasheets).

At its core, traide's software features an intelligent digital customs tariff expert. It assists in quickly finding the correct customs tariff number: "Tariff Assistant". Additionally, it automatically checks existing inventories of already classified products for formal and substantive correctness, providing users with feedback and improvement suggestions for errors: "Quality Control Helper".

The result is significantly increased throughput and reduced error rates for classified products. This frees up bound personnel resources, creates room for scaling, and enhances security.

Do you have any questions? Write to us! We are delighted to assist you. 


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