While the free movement of goods describes foreign trade at the National and European levels, restrictions are necessary to protect specific superior interests. And there are various superior interests that the government of Germany is careful to protect.

For instance, according to the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG), statutory bodies and restrictions requiring actions can be applied to protect Germany and its allies from threats. The protection can be achieved by controlling weapons of mass destruction and related export controls.

Another reason for export restrictions in Germany is the commitment to protecting national security. Germany ensures that goods leaving the country do not promote conflicts, stir up crises, or violate human rights.

In a nutshell, export licensing requirements are essential in ensuring fair trade and promoting national and international security. 

Free movement still applies to some goods (the majority). However, there are categories of goods and export destinations that require export licensing in Germany. 

So, how do you determine if your goods require an export license?

This article guides you through the process of obtaining an export license in Germany. You will also learn the export licensing requirements, types of licenses, and the cost of obtaining an export license in Germany.

Let’s dive in!

Export license requirements in Germany

Export licensing requirements are the considerations based on which you can determine if your goods are eligible for an export license. 

There are various licensing requirements in Germany, including specific and non-specific restrictions. 

The licensing requirements may arise based on evaluation from the following:

#1 Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) and Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV)

The AWG and AWV authorities are in charge of export licenses for military items. They regulate foreign trade, including military goods, payments, capital, services, and any other trade between German nationals and foreigners.

They regulate the export of weapons and ornaments listed in the German Export list of controlled military equipment.

#2 Regulation (EU) 2021/821 (EU Dual-Use Regulation)

The Dual-Use Regulation controls the export of dual-use goods (goods whose end-use can be civil or military) to control the distribution of weapons of mass destruction.

It stipulates a dual-use items list, procedures, and requirements for the export and transfer of dual-use items in EU member states.

It also regulates brokering activities related to dual-use goods and prohibitions regarding their transfer while in transit.

#3 Regulation (EU) 258/2012 (Firearms Regulation)

The Firearms Regulation controls the distribution of firearms. It lays down the regulations ruling export authorizations for firearms, their parts, transit measures, significant components, and ammunition.

#4 Regulation (EU) 2019/125 (Anti-Torture Regulation)

The Anti-Torture regulation controls trade in goods whose end-use may result in:

  • Capital punishment
  • Inhuman or degrading treatment, torture, punishment, or cruelty

The regulation bans:

  • Export of goods with no practical use other than degrading human rights, punishment, or torture
  • The provision of any technical assistance geared towards the exportation of such goods
  • The supply of technical assistance to support the supply of such goods
  • The promotion of such goods in exhibitions and trade fairs
  • The sale of advertising space for such goods

Consequently, the regulation provides a list of authorities that can allow the exportation of goods deemed to result in cruelty and torture. 

It also provides a list of such goods, circumstances under which they may be exported, requirements for a General Export Authorization for such goods, and requirements for transactions regarding the goods.

#5 Embargo regulations

Embargoes are legislative trade restrictions that ban or control trade activities within a government, group of countries, or certain regions.

The government agencies responsible for enforcing embargoes and the export control regime in Germany include:

  • The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Controls (BAFA)
  • The German Federal Bank
  • The Central Department for Sanctions Enforcement
  • The German Customs Administration
  • The Public Prosecutor’s Offices

Germany applies the EU Consolidate List for individual sanctions rather than maintaining a list of sanctioned individuals and entities.

Sanctions can be temporary and keep changing in status, so it's essential always to check if there are any active restrictions.

For instance, Germany imposed EU Financial sanctions, economic sanctions, and export controls against Russia and Belarus. That was following Russia's war against Ukraine and Belarus's involvement in the manufacture and sale of drones to Russia.

How to obtain an Export license in Germany online

Since you have an understanding of the factors determining the need for an export license, the next question would be, how do I get an export license for my goods?

Based on the export controls and regulations applicable to certain goods, you may need an export license to authorize your shipment. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to obtaining an export license in Germany.

#1 Determine if your goods are eligible for an export license

Before you can start applying for an export license, you want to establish if any restrictions apply to your goods. 

To determine if your goods need an export license, you must check them against the export licensing requirements discussed. 

#2 Apply for an export license

If you determine that your goods need an export license, you can apply for your license online via BAFA’s ELAN-K2 online portal.

Here’s the way to go about applying for your export license on the portal:

  • Name an export officer (AV): Determine the person who shall be responsible for compliance with all export controls (the person must be a member of the management board)
  • Obtaining an EORI number: You need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number (EORI) for registration on the ELAN-K2 portal and all export control compliance.

You can apply for an EORI number at the General Customs Directorate. You can check out the EORI online application guidelines.

  • Registration on the ELAN-K2 portal: Complete a one-time registration on the ELAN-K2 portal so you can gain access to the system.
  • End-use declaration: Provide end-use declaration documents. Guidance on filling out the end-use requirements is provided on the portal.
  • Reporting weapon numbers: If you are exporting firearms, you should submit a report on the weapon numbers as required by the Firearms Ordinance.
  • Certification: BAFA certifies your company if it proves reliable in terms of export control regulations compliance.

Types of export licenses in Germany

There are three main types of export licenses in Germany:

#1 Individual export license

An individual export license applies to one specific export or transfer within the EU member states (intra-EU processes)

#2 Global export license

The global export license authorizes a specific exporter to ship multiple items to various end-users in multiple countries in specific quantities or total value.

#3 General Licenses

EU general export authorizations (EUGEAs) allow the exportation of dual-use goods to specific destinations under certain conditions as listed in the Recast Dual Use Regulation.

Exporters do not need to apply for general licenses as they are export forms published by BAFA and are available for goods meeting the set criteria.

Over to you

The most challenging and significant part of applying for an export license is determining whether your goods are eligible for an export license. The procedure can be complex if you have no prior experience exporting from Germany because of the various regulations that you must check against.

The process is critical as failure to comply or apply for the wrong license can lead to the following:

  • Imprisonment
  • Penalty fees and fines
  • Skimming off profits
  • Exclusion from public contracts
  • Temporary exclusion from some markets
  • Detainment of your goods

This is why experienced export licensing consultants such as Blackthorne are essential to a successful exportation. It saves you the hassle of determining the suitable export license for your goods and ensures the safety and convenience of goods on transit through compliance. With considerable experience in developing world export licensing and a deep understanding of the requirements set out by global export control offices for exporting goods, you can have confidence in Blackthorne's ability to swiftly establish a logistics solution that complies with regulations, enabling the efficient export of your products to any country worldwide. Get in touch with Blackthorne's licensing consultants today!

Back to Blog