Starting July 1, 2021, the previous exemption limit of EUR 22 for the import of goods into Germany will no longer apply.
- Starting in July, the EUR 22 VAT exemption threshold for goods shipped from non-EU countries to Germany will no longer apply and charges will be due for all such shipments in the future
- The sender must either pay the charges in advance or Deutsche Post will charge them to the recipient on delivery
- Exception: Low-priced goods subject to import VAT amounting to less than EUR 1
Bonn – Starting July 1, 2021, the previous exemption limit of EUR 22 for the import of goods into Germany will no longer apply. As a result, customers will have to pay import charges for goods they receive from a non-EU country (such as the US, the UK or China). Deutsche Post DHL Group is informing its customers about this important change in the international shipping of goods at an early stage to prevent unpleasant surprises from costs that were not calculated when such goods were ordered online from non-EU countries. The new regulation is based on an initiative of the European Commission aimed at stopping preferential tax treatment of foreign mail order companies outside the EU and combating VAT fraud.
To date, all shipments of goods whose material value does not exceed EUR 22 have been exempt from import charges (Articles 23 and 24 of Germany’s Customs Duty Exemption Regulation). This applies to customs duties and to import VAT, with the only exceptions being alcohol, tobacco and perfume. Starting July 1, 2021, this exemption will end and import charges will be applied to all shipments of goods. Here too there are exceptions: If the value of the goods is so low that import VAT due is less than EUR 1 – meaning the goods are worth no more than EUR 5.23 – customs will waive the charges. In addition, customers will not have to pay import duties if the goods were ordered from an online marketplace that is already registered in the EU and pays the VAT due in an EU country (the so-called Import-One-Stop-Shop, IOSS, solution). Those charges are paid directly at the time of sale or at the time the online order is placed.
What does the new July 1 regulation mean for recipients of non-EU goods shipments worth less than EUR 22? In cases where the sender has not already paid the import duties in advance by following the appropriate procedures, Deutsche Post DHL will – as is currently the case for shipments worth EUR 22 or more – pay the import charges due to customs and collect them from the recipient customer on delivery to their door or when the shipment is collected at a retail outlet. For this service, the current customs clearance fee of EUR 6 (incl. VAT) will be charged in addition to the import charges. Such service fees for customs clearance similar to Deutsche Post’s disbursement fee are common in other countries. For example, fees of EUR 10 or more are charged in Austria and the Netherlands.
Timing is also important for customers in relation to the mid-year change. Under the new regulations, whether or not a shipment of goods worth up to EUR 22 is subject to import VAT depends on when it is declared to customs in Germany. That timing is particularly important for shipments where the import duties have not been paid by the sender in advance, but are payable by the recipient at the time of delivery. For example, goods worth EUR 15 ordered on an e-commerce platform on June 15 and shipped from Asia will be delivered without import duties if they arrive in Germany and can be declared to German customs no later than June 30. If, however, the shipment cannot be declared until July 1, import charges will be incurred and these will be collected in conjunction with the above-mentioned customs clearance fee at the time of delivery or collection.