Objections against the assessment of customs duties should always be made by a lawyer specialized in this field (customs law). For, if the argumentation in the objection proceedings is not correct, it might be very difficult to win the subsequent proceedings at the Financial Courts.
In addition, checking the case by a lawyer can minimize the risk of waking “the sleeping dog” by unnecessary indications of the party involved. Imprudent statements can involve subsequent payments in considerable amounts.
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An objection against the customs’ decision not always makes sense
An objection against the principle customs office in particular is of importance in case
- the import duties were overcharged,
- the products were classified in an unfavourable tariff with the effect of higher duties and/or antidumping charges,
- import duties are assessed subsequently after a customs audit,
- your demand for a binding tariff information was not complied with,
- authorizations (authorized exporter, AEO etc.) were withdrawn,
- refunds on exports are not granted or
- evidence on preferences is not acknowledged.
Objections and protests against decisions of the principal customs offices
Customs law is ruled by a vast number of European regulations that are applicable directly in Germany. This means that not only the courts, but also the authorities are bound by these provisions.
Objections against decisions of the customs offices should be well-founded.
The corresponding rules of procedure to act against the authorities, however, was almost completely given in hands of the national legislator. In Germany this right to object is arranged for in the Abgabenordnung(AO)/Fiscal Code and the Finanzgerichtsordnung (FGO)/Code of procedure of fiscal courts.
How to object against the assessment of import duties?
It is important to first object against the decision of the customs authorities, before legal proceedings are started at the Financial Court. This objection has to be lodged within a month after notification of the decision of the relevant office. If you fail to observe this time limit the assessment notice comes into force and can no longer be set aside.
In the objection procedure the authorities verify whether their decision was legitimate and appropriate or whether it has to be altered by the final decision of the objection procedure retroactively. If the authorities do not change their point of view, legal proceedings can be initiated before the Financial Court within a further month.
The objection procedure of the customs authorities is free of costs. This is one more reason to use this possibility with the assistance of a lawyer.
Beware: the import duties often have to be paid for the time being
It is important to know that the objection procedure does not suspend the effect of the decision. This means that the assessed duties and the import turnover tax have to be paid first, even if an objection was lodged. It is possible, however, to ask the authorities to suspend the execution of their decision in this regard.