When it comes to doing business internationally, you need to check what tax and legal regulations apply. Some points are only relevant if you do business outside the EU. However, many points are already relevant when you do business anywhere outside Germany. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK) has set up a dedicated “Team International” to assist you with any questions on import and export regulations, country-specific documents, foreign-trade and customs legislation and issuing of certificates of origin and certification of foreign-trade documents. You can reach the team by phone at +49 89 5116-0 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
IHK has published an English language “Guideline for international business” (PDF 2,5 MB) to help you get started.
Value-added tax (VAT) within and outside the EU
For deliveries from suppliers or to private individuals or business customers based in other EU countries or third countries: Find out in advance how to manage input tax (“Vorsteuer”) and value-added tax (“Umsatzsteuer”). Even companies that make use of the “provision for small businesses” (“Kleinunternehmerregelung”) can be affected!
CCI guide to value-added tax [in German]
One Stop Shop procedure for EU VAT
Online retailers must pay VAT in other EU countries if their sales to non-business customers (i.e. private end consumers) in other EU countries is more than 10,000 euro (net and including shipping costs) in a calendar year. This 10,000 euro threshold value includes all products and services sold, including digital services such as downloads. In order to register and pay this tax in other EU countries you can use the One Stop Shop procedure (OSS), which involves registering with the Federal Central Tax Office in Germany and submitting your tax declaration to them for your entire EU sales. This also applies to small businesses, i.e. regardless of whether an online retailer is obliged to pay VAT in Germany.
More information on registering for OSS [in German]
Federal Central Tax Office: The One Stop Shop EU regulation [in German]
International online trade and sales law
Sales law regulates topics such as warranty, possible compensation claims, the right to exchange and return goods, as well as specific aspects of international sales contracts.
IHK guide to sales law [in German]
IHK guide “international E-Commerce” (PDF 1,4 MB) [in German]
The portal “Außenwirtschaftsportal Bayern” offers country-specific information and seminars on customs, import and export.
Außenwirtschaftsportal Bayern [in German]
Dealing with imports and exports
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Munich (IHK) offers information and support on customs and foreign trade law:
- IHK guide to internationalization – doing business successfully abroad [in German]
- IHK guide to doing import business [in German]
- IHK guide to doing export business [in German]
- IHK guide to international contracts [in German]
- Country-specific regulations
- Funding and financing
- IHK seminars on customs and foreign trade [in German]
EU Portal Access2Markets
Access2Markets is the EU gateway to trade information for both importers and for exporters. Here you can find all tariffs, customs procedures and formalities, product requirements for the EU market, for each product – including any special conditions granted under trade agreements.
Import Promotion Desk
If you are an importer or a travel operator looking for reliable business partners, then Import Promotion Desk (IPD) is the right address for you. IPD is an initiative of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) and the development organisation sequa gGmbH Partner of German Business. IPD is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As part of our development policy objectives, they find exporters in their partner countries and prepare them intensively for all the requirements of the EU market.
Product safety and product liability
Whether manufacturer, importer, or retailer – anyone who puts products on the German market must ensure that the products meet the European regulations for product safety or else risk liability procedures, sanctions, and loss of reputation. Product safety regulations also affect labeling and information obligations.
IHK guide to product safety [in German]
IHK guide to product liability [in German]
Special regulations apply to many products including:
- Electrical products
- Food supplements
- Medical products
- Food (production and/or retail)
- Food (import business)
Find suppliers or sales partners in foreign markets
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK) can assist you in finding suppliers or business opportunities in foreign markets. Contact IHK by phone at +49 89 5116-0 or by email at email@example.com to request their systematic search service for addresses [Adressrechercheservice]. IHK works closely with the worldwide network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK). AHKs are institutions of German foreign trade promotion. They advise, support and represent German companies worldwide that want to establish or expand their foreign business. The portal of Germany Trade and Invest, the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, provides market and industry information and information on opening new markets among others.
IHK guide in German on searching for suppliers “Digitale Lieferantensuche / Beschaffung im B2C- und B2B-E-Commerce (PDF 1,5 MB)
A1 certification for cross-border activity
If you work temporarily in an EU country, in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will always have to carry an A1 certification with you. It is proof of your existing social security protection in Germany. It is valid regardless of the length of your business travel. Other certifications may be required for other countries.
More information from the German Staturtory Pension Insurance [in German]