In 2020, the UK imported 13% of all goods from Germany, making it our largest source of international goods. As a business, you are always looking for ways to optimise your business. And, expanding into international trade is one way many choose to do so. In this guide, our Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services specialists cover everything you need to know about importing from Germany so you can make the process streamlined and seamless.

Why Do We Import So Much From Germany?

Germany is the world’s 4th largest economy, with an industrialist and stable economy that has helped many UK businesses thrive. In 2020, the largest product category imported were vehicles, accounting for an import value of £10.4 billion. In 2012, Audi, BMW and Mercedes took 17% of the 2.03 million cars sold in the UK – showing that we have a nation of German-car lovers that doesn’t seem to be falling. Additional research from 2021, found that Germany continued to lead the vehicle market, with 800,000 new cars and 20% of German exports supported by our customs.

We also depend on Germany to import other goods, including:

  • Boilers and other machinery
  • Electrical equipment
  • Precious stones (pearls)
  • Pharmaceutical goods
  • Medical equipment
  • Iron/Steel
  • Aluminium

Whether you’re in the car sales market or seeking other goods to help expand your business, understanding how to trade with Germany can streamline the entire process.

Checklist For Importing From Germany

To get the best rates and shipping schedules, we highly recommend enlisting the support of a professional freight forwarder to support you with importing from Germany. However, to get you off on the right start, here is our checklist of points to research and decipher now.

Check Legal Permitted Regulations

Any movement of cargo between countries will be subject to rules and regulations. All countries will have a list of prohibited import and export goods – which, as the importer, you will be responsible for knowing. These include goods such as:

  • Material with violent propaganda printed, filmed or recorded
  • Asbestos fibres
  • Counterfeit or pirated goods
  • Counterfeit coins
  • Flick and gravity knives
  • Goods that infringe a copyright or trademark
  • Fighting dogs
  • Indecent or obscene material
  • Medication without the relevant import permits or licenses
  • Offensive weapons
  • Fully automatic weapons

If you attempt to import these goods, they will be confiscated, destroyed and you could face a large fine or even prison sentences. On top of this, you also need to make sure that the goods you are importing

Source The Right Supplier

Any international relationship that you establish should be one that you trust. It can be challenging to establish these connections – especially if they are entirely formed over the telephone or via email. However, with the right questions and research, it is entirely possible to create these professional relationships that benefit both you and the supplier.

There are 3 main economic regions in Germany:

  • The Ruhrgebiet with Frankfurt, Cologne and Düsseldorf – known for the Ruhr coalfield
  • Munich – known for its chocolate, coffee and luxury clothing
  • Berlin – known for cigarettes, confectionery and chemicals

You can go about finding a supplier in a number of different ways. If you have the means, it may be beneficial to fly over to the country, arrange meetings with numerous suppliers and establish which is best designed to meet your needs. Alternatively, you may wish to use an online directory of approved suppliers, such as EuroPages, to contact businesses that may be best placed to supply you. And finally, if you have contacts, word-of-mouth is a very powerful research tool. Network with other business owners and ask for the information of their suppliers or recommended German contacts.

You need to make sure that this new relationship is:

  • Trustworthy – You need reassurance that the goods will be shipped when required
  • Quality – The goods you order need to meet your levels of quality to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Reliable – The delivery dates you provide to your customers need to be met to ensure reliability and to build brand trust

All the above things rest on having a good German supplier.

Set Up An EORI Number

For any business to import goods into the UK, they need an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number. It acts as identification throughout all of the customs procedures, providing heightened security and making the shipment of goods from the EU more efficient. If you plan to regularly import from Germany, this number will also make it easier and quicker to clear customs.

You can get an individual EORI number for your business via the GOV.UK website here.

Organise And Source Necessary Paperwork

Sending any goods abroad comes with an abundance of paperwork. And, if there are documents missing or incorrectly filled out, you will encounter delays, fines and other complications with the shipment. A professional freight forwarder is the best support throughout this process. They can advise on the exact list of paperwork that is required as well as ensure you fill out all relevant fields and submit them to the right parties.

In general, you should assume that shipping from Germany will require the following documents:

  • A Bill of Lading
  • Your EORI number
  • A Commercial Invoice
  • A Packing List
  • A Certification of Origin
  • A CE Certificate
  • A Certificate for Port Health (if the goods are edible or suited to the food/drink industry)
  • Test Certificates (for certain electrical products)
  • MSDS (for hazardous cargo)
  • Import/Export licenses (applicable to certain goods)

Find A Freight Forwarder To Support

The specific restrictions, regulations and documents needed for any international shipment will depend on the goods in question. And, as the markets change regularly and in the aftermath of Brexit/the pandemic, the rules are constantly evolving to meet this ever-demanding sector. An experienced and professional freight forwarder is there to help you make the process streamlined and straightforward. At Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services, we have over 25 years of experience supporting businesses with their import needs.

For more information about importing goods from Germany or to speak to a member of the team, please do get in contact with us here today.