Customs and Foreign Trade

Navy Admiral Grace Hopper once argued that “we’ve always done it this way”. This statement applies to customs and foreign trade law. But it describes a very dangerous scenario.


Companies frequently execute customs processes according to the same routine principles. Too often, they do not reassess, and then adjust, their internal procedures in response to the constantly evolving practices of customs legislation and administration.  

Yet even minor formal errors in customs or export control processes can trigger such drastic consequences as customs charges, withdrawal of simplified procedures, or personal liability of managers and acting employees.

Preventing this, our experts advise clients on all aspects of customs law, foreign trade law, and consumption tax. Such as in the following areas:

Customs Law

  • Customs valuation.  Proper customs valuation is a complex affair. A wide range of calculation methods and countless additions and deductions make it rather inconvenient to declare the legally compliant customs value. We assist you in identifying the items to be listed as part of the customs value, and how to optimize that process. This concerns evaluating and clarifying license agreements, providing materials and tools, as well as estimating the costs for transport and insurance charges. We provide a pragmatic solution that works.
  • Tariff classification of goods.  Classifying the product determines the measures for imports under customs law. This primarily involves the duty rate, but it also pertains to issues of prohibitions and permits. For example, the distinction between medical supplies and food supplement results in significant differences as to the required supporting certificates and authorizations. We can apply for Binding Tariff Information (BTI) on your behalf.
  • Origin of goods and preferential rights.  Stating the correct origin of goods is vital, since they determine further trade measures such as preferential rates or punitive (anti-dumping) duties. We are familiar with the relevant rules of origin and will assist you in applying them correctly, whether generally or in individual cases. We further support you in applying to become an approved exporter, as we can prepare the required work instruction for this purpose.
  • Customs procedures and simplification.  There is a variety of simplifications under customs law, which allow traders to optimize their processes and transactions from an operational and cost perspective. Examples include simplified declaration, the use of customs procedures such as customs warehousing, inward processing, and transit procedures. We will be glad to advise you on your options and support you during the application process or in case of disputes with customs.
  • Contesting of post-clearance recovery (especially with respect to anti-dumping duties).  We will not leave you out in the cold in case of postclearance recovery, either. We have the necessary expertise to represent you in such matters, in court and out of court, up to the European Court of Justice.

Export Controls

  • Authorization requirements.  We evaluate your products for authorization requirements and assess whether procedural simplifications such as general authorizations are feasible. We will gladly assist you in the application or coordination with the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA).
  • Embargoes and sanctions.  Are your present or new transactions subject to embargoes or other sanctions? How to proceed? We will advise and support you when it comes to legal issues regarding export controls.

Excise Law

  • Advice on all German excise duties  (electricity tax, energy tax (formerly mineral oil tax), liquor tax, beer tax, sparkling wine and intermediate product tax, alcopops tax, coffee tax, and tobacco tax)
  • Tax emergence.  We can help you determine if your products are covered by excise tax legislation at all, and which tax rates apply.
  • Tax relief.  Consumption tax law provides for various use cases that allow reimbursement of the respective exchange rate. We are familiar with the circumstances and the formal procedures and will perform measures for you, such as applications.
  • Tax exemptions.  Not every application necessarily entails tax emergence. Certain cases are subject to exemptions. Strict regulations must be observed in this context.
  • Tax suspension (tax warehouse, EMCS).  We gladly support and advise you on all matters pertaining to the suspension of excise duty. We formulate a perfect solution for your business when it comes to accounting issues of tax warehouses, the application procedure, or delivery operations by EMCS.

Other advisory services
Our advisory services further include assessing your “customs compliance”. We anticipate risky areas before they become problematic at customs. For this purpose, we developed our own customs inspection procedure, which further identifies ways to optimize customs and foreign trade processes, including alternative approaches. This ascertains legal security for your supply and performance relationships. Frequently, it also cuts costs.

In addition to preventive advice, we represent our clients in litigation matters, whether in court or out of court, as well as in matters pertaining to customs administration. This includes legal action in defense against fines or criminal proceedings.