Shipping from UK to Germany – as an ambitious e-commerce retailer, international shipping can provide excellent opportunities for growing your business. If you’re considering exploring the German market, you’re in the right place.
E-commerce and online shopping are an integral part of the retail culture in Germany. In fact, German citizens receive the highest average number of parcels in Europe! So, if you are considering expanding your business in Germany now is a great time to do it.
Whether you are an experienced e-commerce retailer or new to the game, there is always a lot to consider when growing your business in a new country or territory. That’s why we’ve compiled a thorough and detailed – but easy to digest – complete guide to shipping to Germany.
This guide will take you through everything you need to know. From choosing the right shipping provider for your different delivery needs to customs and duties responsibilities; from important packing considerations to prohibited goods we’ve got it covered. We’ll also explain any additional obligations or considerations for shipping after Brexit and run through which kind of e-commerce businesses will fit best with all the main shipping carriers. And don’t worry, we’ve broken it all down into snackable sections so you won’t get overwhelmed!
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Shipping to Germany – the most important things at a glance
- How will shipping to Germany benefit my e-commerce business?
- Which carriers ship from the UK to Germany?
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with Royal Mail
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with Parcelforce
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with DHL
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with DPD
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with FedEx
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with Hermes
- Shipping from the UK to Germany with UPS
- Things to consider when shipping from the UK to Germany
- What factors affect shipping costs
- What factors affect shipping times
- Potential delays due to public holidays
- Shipping from the UK to Germany after Brexit
- Top packing tips for shipping to Germany
- How to write a German address when shipping from the UK to Germany
- What customs documents are required for shipping from the UK to Germany
- Airway bill
- Commercial invoice
- What customs documents are required for shipping from the UK to Germany
- CN22 and CN23
- What are the import and tax duties
- How do I know how much I need to pay in duties and tax?
- How to calculate import duties
- How to calculate import tax
- Which goods cannot be shipped to Germany
Preparing to ship to Germany – everything you need to know
As with many elements of running a successful business, launching your business in a new market can be daunting. There’s plenty of options to weigh up and a number of important decisions to make. But once you get the ball rolling we promise that it will be far more manageable – and exciting – than you imagined.
It’s a good idea to devote some time to get under the skin of your new market and find out where your business and its USPs will sit among your competitors’ offerings. The German retail market has a number of similarities to the UK but there are also a few key differences. You’ll find plenty of information online about spending and buying trends in Germany. Alongside the more economy-focused sites, you can take a look at product and service reviews to check what customer expectations and priorities are. Plus you can check what other companies in your product space are offering and adapt your range accordingly.
Once you have your market research in hand, you need to think about the logistical side of shipping from the UK to Germany. While the distances aren’t as great as shipping from the UK to the US, there is still a considerable distance to cover and with e-commerce customers expecting speedy delivery times, you need to make sure you can – well, deliver! Naturally, shipping to Germany will result in higher shipping costs so you need to consider how your business will manage these extra expenses and how much you can pass on to your customers while remaining competitive.
So, as you can see there’s certainly a lot to consider, but it’s all 100% doable and absolutely worth it when you think about the benefits of tapping into this lucrative market. So, grab your pen and paper and get nice and comfortable – you’re about to discover everything you need to know about shipping from the UK to Germany.
Your exact shipping costs will depend on a number of factors; the kind of services you choose, whether you need tracking or delivery confirmation, your insurance requirements and more. But just to give you a rough guide of costs and times, here are a few examples using some of the most popular shipping providers who deliver between the UK and Germany.
- What are the shipping costs to send a small parcel to Germany? The cost for sending an international tracked and signed for parcel weighing up to 2kg with Royal Mail starts at £6.84.
- What are the shipping costs to send something a bit bigger from the UK to Germany? Sending a 5kg package, sized 10x10x10cm to Germany with Hermes costs £11.80. This is a courier collection service and takes around 3 to 7 working days. To drop off at a service point costs a little less at £11.50. Please note that Hermes outsource their international deliveries so the shipping times are not guaranteed.
- What are the shipping times from the UK to Germany? Sending a parcel to Germany with an express courier like UPS generally takes 1-3 business days, but of course, this depends on which shipping method you choose. Parcels will arrive before the end of the day. A postal courier like Royal Mail can take anywhere between 3-15 days, the economy shipping option being of course a lot slower.
- What is the cheapest shipping from the UK to Germany? Unfortunately, there isn’t really a straightforward answer to this question as your costs will depend on a number of factors. This includes the service you choose, the weight and dimensions of the shipments and any additional tracking or signature services you need. But don’t worry, we’ll be covering all the costs and service offerings for all the main shipping carriers and much, much more. So, by the end of the guide, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the best shipping services from the UK to Germany for your business.
To say that the opportunities in the German e-commerce market are exciting is a bit of an understatement. Here are just some of the stats and figures that should capture your interest!
- 60m German citizens shopped online in 2019. This is expected to increase to 67.2m in 2022 and 68.4m in 2025.
- In 2020, the e-commerce market in Germany was worth €83.3bn, an increase of 14.6% from 2019.
- B2C online revenue was close to €60bn in 2019 and is predicted to remain stable in the coming years.
- Online shops make up around 40% of the total e-commerce revenue in Germany.
- Amazon.de is the most popular and successful German online retailer. Second place goes to Otto.de which is an e-commerce platform specialising in fashion, consumer electronics and furniture. Fashion retailer Zalando is in third place.
- 29% of German citizens shopped online at least once a week in 2019. 30% shopped online every two weeks.
- 60.74m people in Germany use a Smartphone.
Here’s a look at some stats for the different retail markets in Germany:
- Fashion and Apparel: expected annual growth rate 4.50%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$29,049m by 2025.
- Home and Garden: expected annual growth rate 6.56%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$11,856m by 2025.
- Health and Beauty: expected annual growth rate 8.12%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$4,902.91m by 2025.
- Hobbies and Recreational Goods: expected annual growth rate 4.62%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$23,690m by 2025.
- Speciality food and liquor: expected annual growth rate 6.83%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$3,595m by 2025.
>Top tip< – While there are some similarities between the German and UK retail markets there are also a number of key differences to take into account and cultural reference points to consider. So, it’s definitely worth making an effort to localise your service to your audience in Germany as much as possible. Take a look at your competitor’s product descriptions, their branding and the imagery they use. Naturally, you don’t want to copy them but it will give you a good idea of any differences in aesthetics or messaging you should take on board. Some products might have different names, for example, or nicknames or abbreviations that might not apply in Germany. If your website imagery shows pictures of London or Edinburgh, you might want to think about using more standardised imagery or even creating a .de website or portal. This can also help build trust with your customers, too.
Creating opportunity out of a crisis
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented changes to global economies and the way we live generally. And it also goes without saying that we would never diminish the devastating effects that the health crisis has had – and continues to have – around the world. But there is no denying that buying trends are leaning more and more toward online shopping due to the pandemic. The unfortunate decline of bricks and mortar shops coupled with the fact that many of us are still working from home and able to receive packages has meant that we’re all simply more comfortable with purchasing online. And this means more opportunities for ambitious e-commerce retailers.
E-commerce in Germany was worth €83.3bn in 2020 which is a significant increase of 14.6% from just one year before. The average growth over the previous 3 years was only 11.3 % so while the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we must be prepared to adapt to survive and that the future is anything but certain, it’s clear that now is a good time to capitalise on this new sales potential with parcel shipping from the UK to Germany.
Shipping from the UK to Germany
So, now we’ve covered some of the very good reasons to grow your e-commerce business in Germany, let’s take a look at some of the practicalities and different carrier options for shipping from the UK to Germany.
What do I need to consider before choosing my shipping provider to Germany?
Your shipping service is one of the first points of contact your customer has with your brand and service. Making sure your products are delivered on time and in great condition is vital. Most of us have had a poor experience in the past with a late or damaged shipment and it probably left you with a bad impression of the company’s customer service and professionalism. To show your customers you care about them and that you can deliver high standards of service, you’ll want to choose a shipping carrier that is reliable, trusted, flexible, offers a good range of options, has great customer support and will get your goods to their destination, on time and in perfect condition.
If you find that your business and customers would benefit from different services from a variety of shipping carriers then why not choose more than one or even a handful to work with? The individual companies all have their strengths and weaknesses, after all. Some offer a wider range of trackable services and others are cheaper for time-sensitive deliveries. It’s up to you to find the mix that works for you and your business.
Want to see how the different carriers measure up against each other? We’ve put together a library of comparison guides that are available now in the Sendcloud resource centre.
And if you would benefit from the flexibility of choosing from a variety of reputable and trusted shipping carriers with just a few clicks, why not try Sendcloud’s shipping solutions. You can connect your store in a couple of minutes, save time and money, streamline shipping processes and much more!
Now, let’s continue with your shipping research. In the following section, we’ll be providing information on how much it costs to ship from the UK to Germany. Plus we’ll be taking a look at a number of the best international carriers and revealing their shipping times, different service offerings and more.
UK e-commerce retailers can choose from a variety of different shipping carriers when sending goods from the UK to Germany. These include:
- Royal Mail
And remember, you don’t need to book all your shipping services with one carrier. If it makes sense to work with more than one company then that’s the right decision for you!
Royal Mail has a great reputation for international shipping, including from the UK to Germany. The maximum weight for shipments is 2kg. If you need to send a parcel heavier than 2kg you can send it with Royal Mail’s sister company, Parcelforce which is featured next in this guide.
Here are the shipping services on offer from Royal Mail between the UK and Germany.
International Track and Signed. This is a great fully-tracked service for important or valuable deliveries. Your parcel will be delivered between 3-4 working days (this is not a guaranteed service). As this is a signature service, packages can’t be delivered to a PO box or pack station. Free returns are available for undelivered items and compensation cover is offered up to £50. Additional cover is available up to £250.
International Tracked. As the name suggests the International Tracked service is the same as the above Tracked and Signed, but without the option to collect a signature. The approximate shipping time to Germany is 3-4 working days.
International Standard. This is a good budget option if you don’t require tracking or signature services. The approximate shipping time to Germany is 3-5 working days and free returns are available for undelivered items. Compensation cover of up to £20 is included in the price.
International Economy. This low-cost shipping service is a great money saver for parcels that aren’t time-sensitive or require a signature. You’ll still be offered free returns for undelivered parcels and insurance cover of up to £20. Shipments take around 14 days.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with Royal Mail
|International Tracked and Signed||Prices start at £10.20 (online booking)|
|International Tracked||Prices start at £9.80 (online booking)|
|International Standard||Prices start at £5.50 (online booking)|
|International Economy||Prices start at £4.85 (online booking or sending at a branch of the Post Office)|
What is the shipping time from the UK to Germany with Royal Mail?
Shipping times from the UK to Germany with Royal Mail take between 3-5 working days for the International Tracked and Signed, Tracked and Standard services. If you choose the International Economy service, deliveries can take up to 15 days. Please note these times are approximate and not guaranteed.
Royal Mail’s sister company Parcelforce also offers an international shipping service from the UK to Germany. These services are all fully tracked and if you need protection for your shipments you can choose from insurance cover of £200 for Priority and Express services and £100 for the Economy service. The maximum weight for parcels is 30kg and the maximum length is 1.5m. The only exception to these dimensions is the Global Economy service which is 20kg and 1.05m respectively. Please note that the below prices are for Parcelforce account customers.
You can choose from these time-sensitive and non-time-sensitive services from Parcelforce. Important note – the timescales below do not include delays caused by customs processes. Additional checks or other processing factors at customs could add time to your parcel delivery.
Parcelforce Global Express – from 1 working day.
Parcelforce Global Priority – from 3 working days.
Parcelforce Global Value – from 3-5 working days.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with Parcelforce
For a package sized 10x10x10cm and weighing 2kg, Parcelforce offers the following costings:
|Shipping method||Delivery time||Cost|
|Global Express (collect service)||1+ day delivery||£55.56|
|Global Priority (collect service)||3+ days delivery||£41.76|
|Global Value (drop off/collect)||5+ days delivery||£22.56|
What is the shipping time from the UK to Germany with Parcelforce?
International shipments to Germany from the UK with Parcelforce are usually delivered between 1 and 5 days unless you choose one of their economy services which can take longer. Delays can occur at customs so always factor that in when informing customers of delivery times. Check with the Parcelforce website for more details.
DHL as we know it in the UK is part of Deutsche Post DHL which is headquartered in Bonn. So as you can imagine, the company has a strong presence in Germany. It also has a great reputation and offers a range of fully tracked shipping services between the UK and Germany. An added bonus with DHL is that both the tracking and delivery signature services are included in the shipping prices so you can keep a close eye on your costs and deliver the great service your customers expect.
Merchants using DHL’s services can choose from the following shipment booking options:
DHLitNow. This service is for booking parcel collections online. The maximum weight is 70kg per parcel and the maximum parcel size is 120 x 80 x 80 cm. You don’t have to set up an account for parcel delivery with DHLitNow and registration is optional. If you choose to open an account it will help streamline your services and save time. Merchants can arrange a collection up to 5 days in advance, which helps you plan ahead.
DHL Service Point. This service requires the merchant to complete the shipment order online and drop into one of DHL’s 1,300 convenient sites around the UK. This includes high street shops and retail parks. You don’t need a DHL account to use this service. Free packaging is available at all locations, which is an added bonus for budget-conscious e-commerce merchants.
Booking a collection by calling DHL’s Customer Service. This is a great service for customers who want a person-to-person service. So, if you have specific queries about insurance, customs or duties or want to discuss your shipping options you can call DHL’s customer service team. The team can also quote for heavier items.
Shipping services available from DHL
DHL Parcel Connect. This service is designed specifically to support e-commerce businesses. It is suitable for shipments weighing up to 31.5kg and 120cm in length. Every shipment is managed end-to-end by DHL and has one label for the whole journey, to help to simplify customs processes. Deliveries are already Duty paid. The app integrates with your own IT systems so can save you time. Please see the DHL website for details on pricing and delivery times.
DHL Worldwide Air Delivery. If you need parcels to arrive in a specific time frame, this service is ideal. End-to-end tracking and proof of delivery are included in the price. If you’re sending high-value items, £1000 of insurance protection is available. The maximum dimensions for packages are 120 x 60 x 60 or 100 x 80 x 80cm. The maximum package weight is 25kg. Delivery usually takes between 1-3 days.
DHL Road Economy. As the name suggests, this service is for non-time-sensitive packages and is usually cheaper than the other 2 services from DHL. Delivery times depend on the exact destination of your packages and if there are any delays at customs. This service is for heavy shipments of over 31.5kg.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with DHL
Here are the current prices for a parcel size 10 x 10 x 10cm. Please note that the prices below do not include VAT.
|Shipping method||Delivery time||Cost|
|DHL Express service||Up to 2kg||£39.95 (drop at service point).|
|DHL Worldwide Air||Up to 2kg||£29.61 (drop at service point)|
|DHL Worldwide Air||Up to 5kg||£38.36 (drop at service point)|
Important note: at the time of writing the above prices for DHL Worldwide Air were the only ones available. For more information on costs and shipping options please contact DHL directly.
What is the shipping time from the UK to Germany with DHL?
The shipping time between the UK to Germany with DHL usually takes between 1-2 working days. It is longer with the Road Economy service though this is only for heavy packages over 31.5kg.
DPD offers 3 shipping services between the UK and Germany; Express, Economy and Super Economy. Both the Express and Economy services require the sender to drop off at a store and the Super Economy is door to door. DPD offers a range of additional services to support e-commerce retailers including signature tracking and delivery drop-offs. The carrier has over 4,500+ Drop Off locations across the UK. All these sites are conveniently located and are no more than a few minutes away from 93% of the UK population. Parcels sent by DPD from the UK to Germany are protected up to £50 and extra protection is available up to the value of £5,000.00.
Important note: as with all shipments between the UK and Germany, delivery times are subject to change due to customs processes.
DPD Express. This is the fastest service from DPD. Your parcels should arrive between 3 – 5 business days.
DPD Economy. If your packages aren’t time-sensitive you can save money with this economy service from DPD. Deliveries take between 4-8 business days. This depends on the day you send them and the exact origin and destination.
DPD Super Economy. This service is a good option for non-time-sensitive parcels and can help merchants control costs. Check the DPD website for exact shipping times.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with DPD
The below details are for packages sized 10x10x10cm. Shipments must be dropped off at a DPD shop.
|Shipping method||Maximum weight||Delivery time||Cost|
|DPD Air Classic (Economy)||2kg||3-4 working days||£13.59|
|DPD Classic (Economy)||2kg||3 working days||£22.21|
|DPD Air Express||2kg||2 working days||£43.36|
|Air Classic (Economy)||2kg||3-4 working days||£13.59|
|DPD Classic (Economy)||10kg||3 working days||£39.97|
Shipping time from the UK to Germany with DPD
Shipping time from the UK to Germany with DPD usually takes between 3-5 working days.
FedEx has 2 service options for sending parcels from the UK to Germany. Both of these are fully trackable on the FedEx app or the website. Customers can choose from no signature, indirect signature, direct signature and adult signature for proof of delivery. FedEx does not offer cargo liability or all-risk insurance though if you need protection for your shipments you can pay an additional charge for Declared Value for Carriage.
FedEx International Priority. This is the fastest shipping service from the UK to Germany with FedEx. Shipments will be delivered in around 1-3 business days.
FedEx International Economy. This economy service from FedEx is ideal for shipments that are not time-sensitive. Deliveries will arrive between around 3-6 business days.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with FedEx
|Shipping method||Maximum weight||Delivery time||Cost|
|FedEx International Priority||2kg||1-3 working days||£95.08|
|FedEx International Economy||2kg||3-6 working days||£89.77|
|FedEx International Priority||5kg||1-3 working days||£124.68|
Important note: FedEx offers the possibility to negotiate preferential rates, so we definitely advise contacting their team and discussing possibilities.
Shipping time from the UK to the US with FedEx
Shipping times from the UK to Germany with the FedEx Priority service takes 1-2 business days. For the Economy service transit takes between 3-6 business days.
Hermes offers one shipping method from the UK to Germany, the Hermes International Economy service. Your shipments are tracked end-to-end. They should arrive at their destination between 3 and 7 days though it is important to note that delivery times on international shipments from Hermes are not guaranteed.
Merchants can choose to drop their parcels of the conveniently located 4,500 Hermes ParcelShops across the UK or arrange for a courier pickup. The latter is slightly more expensive. If you choose the ParcelShop option, keep in mind that they can only accept packages up to 115cm in length and up to 15kg in weight. Furthermore, if you use the Hermes ParcelShop service you won’t be able to request a delivery signature and your parcel may be left unattended at the delivery point. This is because Hermes isn’t an international service. They generally partner with local couriers which means packages are passed to 3rd party services for delivery.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with Hermes
The below costs are for packages sized 10x10x10cm.
|Maximum weight||Delivery time||Cost|
|2kg||3-7 working days||£9.60 drop off and courier collection|
|5kg||3-7 working days||£11.50 drop off / £11.80 courier collection|
|10kg||3-7 working days||£18.00 drop off / £18.30 courier collection|
Shipping time from the UK to Germany with Hermes
Delivery takes between 3 and 7 days for both the courier pick up service or by dropping your parcel off at a Hermes ParcelShop. As mentioned above, it’s important to keep in mind that this is not a guaranteed service so parcels may take longer than 7 days to arrive.
UPS offers 2 shipping methods from the UK to Germany. The carrier offers extra peace of mind with a money-back guarantee for failed deliveries. Both services from UPS are tracked throughout the entire journey. Proof of delivery information includes the time of delivery, full delivery address, and the name and signature of the person who accepted your shipment. For merchants that need to process deliveries on Saturday, UPS offers parcel pickups on that day.
The UPS shipping services from the UK to Germany are as follows:
UPS Worldwide Express Freight – Morning Express Service – Delivery within 2 – 4 business days before noon.
UPS Worldwide Express Freight – Economy Service – Delivery within 6 – 8 business days before the end of the day.
Examples of shipping costs from the UK to Germany with UPS
Please note, all prices are excluding VAT.
|Shipping method||Parcel size||Delivery time||Cost|
|UPS Worldwide Express Freight||Extra-small||Next business day delivery to arrive before the end of the day||£19.99|
|UPS Worldwide Express Freight – Morning Express Service||Medium-sized||Next business day delivery to arrive before the end of the day||£25.19|
|UPS Worldwide Express Freight – Economy Service||Extra-small||Within 4 business days||£15.19|
For more information on rates, check the UPS website.
Shipping time from the UK to the US with UPS
Shipping from the UK to Germany with UPS takes 1 – 2 business days for the priority service and around 4 business days for the economy service.
Now that we have covered all the information about options for shipping carriers, we will move on to other factors that could affect your shipping service between the UK and Germany. This section will offer a complete overview of customs and duties as well as what is classed as prohibited goods in Germany. We’ll also cover important considerations for shipping to the EU after Brexit and give you some handy packaging tips to make sure your parcels get to their destination in perfect condition.
If you don’t find the answers to your queries below, head over to the Sendcloud resource hub. We’ve got an enormous amount of information on shipping, Brexit considerations, choosing the right shipping provider, mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and much, much more.
As with deliveries to all other international destinations, the costs for shipping from the UK to Germany depend on a number of factors including:
- The weight of your package.
- The width, length and height of your package.
- How time-sensitive your package is.
- If you need a delivery signature.
- The kind of tracking you require.
- Any other additional services i.e insurance.
How long it takes your parcel to ship to Germany depends on a variety of factors including:
- The shipping carrier or carriers you work with.
- The shipping method you use e.g standard, express, premium etc.
- Whether you choose a package pick up service or you drop the package off.
- The exact destination of the goods (more remote locations may require more transit time).
- The time the goods take to clear customs.
- Any further disruptions due to COVID-19.
Potential delays in transit to Germany due to public holidays
Exactly the same as in the UK, public holidays may impact your parcel’s transit time. If you aren’t sure exactly how much your services will be impacted, consider adding a disclaimer or note to your website and/or sales receipts.
National Holidays in Germany 2021.
- 1 January, Friday – New Year’s Day
- 2 April, Friday – Good Friday
- 4 April, Sunday – Easter
- 5 April, Monday – Easter Monday
- 1 May, Saturday – May Day
- 13 May, Thursday – Ascension Day
- 24 June, Monday – Whit Monday
- 3 October, Sunday – Day of German Unity
- 25 December, Saturday – Christmas Day
- 26 December, Sunday – Boxing Day
Important note – delivery trucks are banned on Sundays and public holidays in Germany. This is very likely to affect delivery times so keep this in mind when scheduling your shipments.
As we are all aware, the UK left the EU on the 31st December 2020. This means that the UK is no longer part of the EU customs union, so there is no longer freedom of movement for goods exported from the UK to the EU or from the EU to the UK. E-commerce retailers shipping from the UK to Germany will need to be aware of and honour a number of important responsibilities. Failing to do so could result in extra charges, delays to shipments, or your shipments not arriving at all.
Here is an overview of the additional responsibilities resulting from the EU exit. Merchants will need to:
- Supply additional customs documents such as a commercial invoice or either a CN22 and CN23 form.
- Assign Harmonised System or HS codes to all shipped goods.
- Register for an EORI number.
- Find out if you need to pay additional duties and/or tariffs.
- Agree on Incoterms with the customer.
- Communicate any changes with your customers.
If this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. We have compiled a thorough and up to date library of information on our website – plus we’ll be covering customs docs and tariffs in later sections of this guide. For the complete lowdown on everything you need to know about shipping to the EU after Brexit visit our Brexit resource centre.
Your goods are going to be travelling over 1000 miles to your customers in Germany so you’ll want to make sure they arrive in perfect condition. Furthermore, poorly packaged goods can cause delays at customs and even incur additional costs. Making sure your packaging is robust and that you keep sizes to a minimum can save you money and cut down on your carbon footprint.
Here are some top tips for packing your packages well and safely:
- When booking your shipment check the price gradations for the package size (dimensions) and weight.
- Go for lightweight and sturdy filling material such as bubble wrap and styrofoam. Or better still, boost those green credentials by choosing environmentally friendly materials such as FSC-approved recycled cardboard and paper or biodegradable packing peanuts. And make sure you promote this on your website!
- Use packaging materials that are hard-wearing and water-resistant. Reinforce the corners of the package with tape if necessary.
- Avoid surcharges by adhering to the maximum size of 120 x 60 x 60 cm (external dimensions) and 360 cm (belt size).
- Attach all the important customs documents securely to the outside of the package with a waterproof covering. We will cover these documents in a later section.
- Label the shipment with the address clearly written in the accepted way for Germany. Which brings us neatly to our next section…
Germany has strict rules for addressing packages so it’s important you get the conventions right for every package you send. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting it right:
- Left align all text.
- Write the recipient’s full name on the first line.
- Write the street name, then the house or apartment number.
- On the next line write the 5 digit postcode followed by the town or city name.
- On the next line write the country name – Germany – in capitals.
Here is an example of how the address should be written in Germany:
As mentioned in an earlier section, Brexit has resulted in a number of changes to shipping processes between the UK and the EU.
There are 3 important documents required when shipping from the UK to Germany; the commercial invoice, the air waybill (AWB) and either the CN22 and CN23 form. Read on to discover everything you need to know about these forms
When you transport goods using an international courier you need to complete and supply an airway bill (AWB). The AWB is a customs document that acts as a legal contract between the sender and the shipping carrier. It also assists with tracking so it must be filled out and supplied correctly.
The AWB contains important information about the shipments including:
- The address of the buyer
- The value of the goods
- Description of the products
- The weight of the goods
- The airport code where the package was sent from.
Some of the carriers featured in this guide require recipient contact numbers to be on the AWB to avoid delays or other issues so it’s a good idea to include this too.
Commercial invoices are required for shipping outside the EU. So, now that the UK has left the EU, merchants must supply a commercial invoice with all their shipments. The commercial invoice helps customs officers decide what customs and duties need to be applied to your goods. If you fill the commercial invoice out incorrectly you might incur fines or end up paying too much tax or duty.
The commercial invoice is a universal standardised form so it helps to speed up customs processes and prevents delays. It is your responsibility as the seller to complete and supply the commercial invoice, but it’s a good idea to send a copy to your customer before shipping so they can check and confirm that all the data is correct. It also demonstrates to your customer that you care about providing great customer service and helps you build loyalty!
Why do I need to fill out and supply a commercial invoice?
If you ship with an international carrier, such as DHL Express or UPS, commercial invoices are mandatory. Supplying this document also helps ensure your shipments clear customs swiftly, that you prevent delays to your customers and that you don’t incur fines. If you want more information on commercial invoices including how to fill them out correctly first time, visit our complete guide to commercial invoices. You can also download a free commercial invoice template there.
All merchants shipping from the UK to Germany with a postal company like Royal Mail or Parcelforce must include either a Customs declaration CN22 and CN23 form. Both the CN22 and CN23 forms provide clear concise information to customs officials so they can understand what is in your parcels quickly and easily. This information helps them process and clear your shipments more efficiently so your customers receive them in a timely fashion.
What’s the difference between a CN22 and CN23?
There is only one difference between the CN22 and CN23 forms. If your shipment has a value of up to £270 you need to attach a signed and dated CN22. If the value is greater than £270, or your package weighs more than 2kg, then you need to supply a Customs Declaration CN23.
Need more information on these important shipping forms? Take a look at our complete guide to customs declarations CN22 and CN23 for everything you need to know. Plus there’s a free, easy to use tool for creating your own CN22 and CN23 forms.
Import and tax duties apply when shipping goods from the UK to Germany. Even experienced e-commerce merchants find this subject a bit daunting until they get used to the process and it can take a few goes to feel completely confident. But take your time, do your checks and you will be fine.
Here’s a rundown of all you need to know about import and tax duties for shipping to Germany from the UK.
What are duties?
Duties are fees that are collected by the government on goods as they enter a country. They are usually paid by the importer.
What are taxes?
When goods arrive in a country they may still be subject to government taxes such as VAT and VAT even if they are purchased overseas. The amount of taxes varies per country and they are usually paid by the importer.
During the exchange of sale, you as an online retailer, are classed as the exporter. Your customer is classed as the importer.
The amount of duties and taxes you are required to pay depends on a number of factors, including:
The HS code. HS codes are short universally accepted codes that are used to classify the goods you are shipping. You can find out more about these codes and how to find the one you need in our complete guide to HS codes.
What the goods are, and what their value is. How much your goods are worth and the type of products they are will directly affect the amount of taxes and duties you pay. This is another good reason to fill out your commercial invoice correctly.
The Incoterms. As with HS codes, Incoterms are a universally accepted coding system that aims to standardise and streamline shipping processes around the world. Incoterms describe the different responsibilities that the seller and buyer have agreed on including insurance, transport, customs clearance and liability. Basically, your chosen Incoterm determines what you as the seller are responsible for, and what your customer is responsible for. They determine whether you will cover the costs of the duties and taxes, or whether your customer will pay for them so as you can imagine, it is important to use the right codes. For more information, and to ensure you get it right first time, check out our complete guide to incoterms.
How do I calculate import duties that I need to pay?
- Check the duty percentage rate on the goods you’re shipping from the UK to Germany. You can find this with our free HS code finder.
- Add up the value of your goods, all the freight costs, any insurance premiums or additional costs. Then multiply the total by the duty rate. This amount is the duty you need to pay for your shipment.
An example of calculating import duties on your shipments.
- You, as the e-commerce merchant, are sending a t-shirt worth £20 from London to Berlin.
- You use the Sendcloud HS Code Finder to check which code you need to use. It’s 6109.
- You decide to send it with Hermes which costs £9.60.
- The rate of duty on this item is 19% when sending from the UK to Germany.
- So, Value = £20 + freight cost = £9.60 = £29.60.
- The total duty you need to pay is £5.62.
What is the German VAT?
Most of the goods and services in Germany are subject to 19% Value Added Tax (VAT). Here’s what you as an e-commerce merchant need to know about VAT when sending packages from the UK to Germany:
- The standard rate of VAT in Germany is 19% though there is a reduced rate of 7% for food, books, hotel accommodation, cultural services and some other goods and services. The VAT rate is set by the German state.
- Companies with a German VAT number must complete returns at the required times. These should detail all taxable supplies (sales) and inputs (costs).
- VAT returns are usually submitted monthly in Germany and are due by the 10th of the month.
- VAT returns are filed electronically through the ELSTER system to the relevant Finanzamt (tax office).
- Businesses are also required to submit an annual German VAT return by the end of May of the following year.
- If an overseas company sells goods in Germany but is unable to obtain a VAT number, or is incurring VAT on local goods or services, then VAT may be recovered through a VAT Reclaim.
You can get more information on the tax on retail sales of goods and services into Germany by visiting the website of the German tax office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern). The site offers information in English.
Important note: did you know that from the 1st July 2021 all goods sent from the UK to the EU will have to pay import VAT? Find out more on the EU VAT for e-commerce webpage.
Top tip: if you’re sending goods from the UK to the EU that have a value of under €150, you could save time and money by registering for the new Import One Stop Shop (IOSS). The IOSS allows you to quickly process your VAT for these types of goods, so well worth looking into!
How do I register for VAT in Germany?
To register for VAT in Germany, merchants must submit an application at the jurisdictional tax office for the relevant state. The tax forms are generally only available in German and all correspondence with the jurisdictional tax authorities must be in the German language. If you need support with this there are a number of private companies that offer assistance.
Applications can be subject to fraud checks so be prepared to answer some questions. Due to these checks, applications can take some weeks so it’s best to apply as soon as possible.
Don’t forget, when applying for VAT in Germany, you can register with the IOSS portal and streamline your VAT processes.
What do I need to do once I have registered with VAT in Germany?
Once you have successfully registered your business for VAT in Germany you need to do the following:
- Always include VAT in the price of your shipments from the UK to Germany, especially for goods valued under 150 euros. This is because you must collect VAT for sales under €150.
- Include your German VAT number on the CN23 in the Sender’s Customs Reference field.
- If the customer in Germany has an ABN, include the VAT number in the Addressee’s Reference field of the CN23 form.
- Make sure you issue receipts to your customers clearly showing the correct amount of VAT.
- Include your German VAT registration number on the receipt.
- Include your German Business Number (ABN) on the receipt, if you have one.
- Make sure you understand and meet all your reporting, payment and record-keeping requirements for paying VAT in Germany.
How do I calculate the amount of VAT that I need to pay?
- Find out the VAT rates for Germany. At the time of writing, this was 19%.
- Add up the value of your goods, your freight costs, insurance premiums, import duty and any additional costs you have incurred.
- Multiply the total by Germany’s VAT rate of 19% and you’ll get the amount of VAT you’ll need to pay to customs for your shipment.
How do I know when to pay the duties and taxes on my goods?
Generally, it is the sender’s responsibility to pay duties and taxes on goods before they arrive at customs in their country of destination. If you are unused to sending parcels internationally you can choose a shipping carrier that offers support with paying taxes and duties. This can help to speed up import processes and gives you peace of mind.
What is a Handelsregisternummer or Registernummer?
The Handelsregisternummer is the unique number given to each company listed in the German Trade Register. It is sometimes called Registernummer. Most companies in Germany are obliged to be listed in the Handelsregister. The exceptions are freelancers, small businesses with low sales revenue and companies constituted under civil law.
Top tip – Registering a website domain in Germany can help build trust with your new market. If you want to do this, having an Handelsregisternummer can help expedite the process.
Like most countries, Germany has strict rules on prohibited goods entering the country. As the shipper, it is your responsibility to make sure you understand what you can and can’t import to Germany and to keep abreast of any changes. Always check with the official Germany import information if you are sending a new type of product and remember that types of prohibited goods can change over time and at very short notice.
For up to date information on goods that are prohibited or restricted when shipped from non-EU countries to Germany, then check the Zoll website (the official customs portal of the German Government. This list includes:
- Medicinal products and narcotics
- Publications likely to harm minors
- Food and feed
- Counterfeiting and piracy
- Certain textiles
- Animals and plants
- And more…
It is possible to export food and drink from the UK to Germany but a number of rules and restrictions apply.
- Food and drink must have a shelf life of at least 6 months.
- All products must be in the original packaging.
- Homemade food cannot be accepted.
- All food and drink must be labelled with a full list of ingredients.
- Packaging must not be damaged, tampered with, opened or partially opened.
What types of food are banned from import into Germany?
Here is a list of the food types that are banned from import into Germany. This list is subject to change at short notice so always check with the Zoll website before sending your goods.
- Wild mushrooms (though up to 2 kilogrammes of edible mushrooms for private consumption may be imported without any restrictions).
- Sturgeon caviar
- Food supplements
- Food and feed of animal origin including meat, milk and dairy products, game and eggs.
I need extra secure tracking services to Germany. What can I do?
Effective tracking is a critical part of your shipping service. You want to be able to inform your customers when their products will arrive, after all! A great solution for additional tracking needs that’ll give you extra peace of mind is Sendcloud’s customisable Track & Trace. This handy tool helps ensure that your customers are provided with the most important shipping updates at all times. You can even brand them with your company logo, helping to boost brand recognition and promote customer loyalty. Try the Tracking Experience!
You’ve reached the end of your complete guide to shipping from the UK to Germany! We hope your various teas and coffees have seen you through the information and you are getting excited about the prospects of growing your business in Germany. Even before Brexit, there was a lot to consider when shipping internationally and though there are a few more elements to add to the shipping process it’ll become second nature before you know it. Don’t forget we have a whole library of information in our resource centre and your chosen shipping carrier is on hand to talk you through any particular pain points or assist with queries.
And speaking of shipping carriers; as one of the most important parts of your expansion into Germany, we hope you’ve seen some good contenders to help support your services in this guide. Remember you don’t need to choose just one shipping provider. If you find that one company presents better value for heavier shipments and another is more suitable for priority deliveries, then that mix is the best choice for your customers and your business.