Preferential customs tariffs in Germany

Preferential customs tariffs are very important for importing and exporting enterprises. Preferential customs tariff means that goods from non-EU-countries are imported with a lower preferential customs tariff or even duty-free.

Preferential customs tariffs can help you to save a lot of money — and can cost you much more money, should they be applied incorrectly.

To observe the rules of tariff preference is not a prerequisite to import or export the goods. But you are forced to observe these rules, because they decide on the costs for the import, and therefore on the competitive situation of goods on the national or international markets.

System of tariff preferences in Germany / EU

You will hardly find a subject that is more complicated and less methodical than the legal system for origins and preferences. The really difficult question is: which of the numerous preferential arrangements is the correct one in your case. The EU has concluded a number of bilateral and multilateral preferential agreements, most of them in the course of cooperation and association agreements, on account of which the EU is obliged to grant preferential tariffs. Because of the economic potential the number of these agreements is increasing considerably.

Furthermore, the EU is granting preferences for a lot of countries by unilateral (autonomous) provisions. The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a threefold one.

  • First, the goods from developing countries and countries with low and medium incomes have priority.
  • Then, goods from countries with a sustainable development and a good government are supported (GSP+)
  • Further, goods from „the least developed countries” (EBA beneficiary countries) obtain special preferences. EBA means “everything but arms”.

A lot of provisions that coincide have to be systematized and to be applied correctly. What makes this still more difficult are numerous prescribed formalities that have to be observed very strictly.

Disputes on the granting of preferential tariffs

There are many constellations in the legal aspects of preferential tariffs that can lead to disputes.

Disputes may arise with the customs authorities on whether the beneficiary complied with the prerequisites for preferences. In this connection the authorities can simply refuse to grant preferential tariffs and collect customs duties as calculated for third countries.

It is even possible that a subsequent levy of duties takes place when preferential tariffs are denied subsequently.

Also disputes on the issue or withdrawal of preference certificates (certificates of origin EUR1. EUR-MED, FORM A, supplier’s declarations, open market certificate A.TR) or on authorizations as “approved exporter” may arise.

And there are many disputes about the time limit for the submission of preference certificates, in particular in connection with the subsequent granting of preferences.

Any questions on preferential tariffs? Contact us now!

Infringements of the preferential regulations do not only lead to a refusal of preferential tariffs. You also may be faced with a subsequent levy of duties, monetary fine proceedings or even criminal investigations. Probably also your business partner will claim additional costs that occurred due to duty assessments or delays in delivery of the goods.

To proceed against acts or omissions of the customs authorities you first have the possibility to raise an objection. In the opposition proceedings the acts or omissions of the authorities are verified by the customs themselves and assessed again. Within a period of one month you have the possibility to start proceedings against this new assessment at the Financial Court. After this the matter can even be clarified before the Federal Fiscal Court or the European Court.

From our office in Hamburg/Germany, we are anytime at your disposal, should you have any disputes about preferential tariffs. Please send us an email or give us a call: +49 40 369615-0.