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1.   Why do I need an export declaration?

Goods that are in free circulation in the European Union and are to be physically removed from the customs territory of the Union, they are to be released for export (cf. Art. 269 (1) CCC). This applies irrespective of the chosen transport route or mode (land, air, sea, mail, rail).

The background is the monitoring of the movement of goods with third countries and thus the compliance with trade policy measures, such as export restrictions regulated by EU law, which provide for an authorization or even a ban.


Adjacent to this, certain data is automatically transmitted to the Federal Statistical Office via an interface with the export declaration (Extrastat) and thus flows into the foreign trade statistics.

In addition, the export procedure serves as proof to the tax office of the proper removal of the goods from the customs territory of the Union, as this establishes the VAT-exempt export delivery.

An export is a customs procedure according to Article 5 no. 16 lit. c) UCC. In order to be able to place the goods concerned under an export procedure, a customs declaration is required.

In principle, the export declaration can be submitted by any person (both companies and private individuals) established in the EU. This person must be able to present the goods and the necessary documents for the export. The presentation is the physical presentation of the export goods at the customs office.

This person will usually be the exporter, i.e. the holder of the customs procedure. The economic consequences of the movement of goods should affect him. For the definition of the exporter it is relevant which person is the contracting party of the consignee in the third country and decides whether and how the export is to take place. The agreed terms of delivery (Incoterms) are irrelevant here.

2.   How do I create an export declaration?

The export declaration must always be made in electronic form, Article 6 (1) of the IPC. In Germany, the export declaration must be submitted using the IT procedure ATLAS-Ausfuhr. ATLAS stands for Automated Tariff and Local Customs Clearance System. You can find more information about the IT procedure ATLAS on the website of the German customs administration.

2.1   Standard case: Two-step procedure

To open the export procedure, the consignment must be presented and declared at the customs office of export. The customs office of export is the customs office responsible for the place where the exporter is established or where the consignment is packed or loaded for export. The electronic export declaration must be submitted to this customs office. You can determine the office code for your customs office using our Customs Offices application.

In the second step, the export shipment must be presented to the customs office of exit in unchanged condition. The customs office of exit is the customs office that supervises the physical removal of the goods from the customs territory of the Union. The customs office of exit is usually a border customs office, but it can also be an internal customs office, e.g. for air freight shipments.

The customs office of exit must always be presented with the registration number of the export declaration (Master Reference Number - MRN) and, if applicable, the export accompanying document. After verification, the customs office of export releases the shipment for exit and then sends a corresponding electronic message to the customs office of export.

The customs office of export then sends the exporter the export confirmation. This export confirmation is sent to the exporter in the IT procedure ATLAS by means of a pdf. document "Exit note" or, in the case of an alternative proof, as an "Alternative exit note".


The export note serves as proof of the proper completion of the customs export procedure and as documentary evidence for the VAT-exempt export delivery.

2.2   Simplifications on the two step procedure

In addition to the standard case of the two-stage export procedure, there are various procedural simplifications under Union customs law. These procedural simplifications under the UCC are, in particular, the simplified customs declaration and the entry in the declarant's accounts with exemption from presentation. Both simplifications require a formal authorization by the competent main customs office.

2.3   One-stage procedure for so called small consignments

If an export is not subject to any restrictions such as licensing requirements or embargo measures against the receiving country and the value of the consignment does not exceed € 3,000, the consignment can be presented directly at the customs office of exit and the export declaration can be transmitted electronically to this office, cf. Art. 221 (2) UA 2 UZK-IA.

If a total consignment is divided into several individual consignments, an export declaration must be submitted for each individual consignment. The division of an export consignment into partial consignments in order to fall below the value of goods of € 3,000 is not permitted.

2.4   Verbal customs declaration

Provided that the value of goods of a commercial consignment does not exceed € 1,000 as well as a net mass of 1,000 kg, the goods are not subject to any prohibitions or restrictions or other special formalities during export, the granting of export refunds or other amounts or the reimbursement of duties is not provided for, the consignment may be declared orally directly at the customs office of exit.

Of course, the two-stage export procedure may also be used for such exports that can be declared as small consignments under the one-step procedure or orally directly at the customs office of exit. This is at the discretion of the exporter.

3.   What information do I have to provide in the export declaration?

In addition to general information on the export transaction such as consignor, consignee, means of transport or transport routes, information must also be provided on the business transaction, the agreed delivery conditions and, in particular, the goods themselves.


Country information (e.g. for the country of export, country of destination, nationality of the cross-border active means of transport) must always be provided with the respective ISO alpha-2 code.


In addition to the goods description (usual trade description) and the 8-digit goods number according to the customs tariff (customs tariff number), the information on the goods shipment also includes gross and net weights as well as type and number of packages. The correct commodity code can be researched in our TARIC application.

4.   Which information do I have to provide in the export declaration?

From the customs point of view, there are no requirements for the information on a commercial document. Thus, all the information required for the customs declaration may be derived from several documents.


According to Article 163 (1) of the Union Customs Code (UCC), all required documents must be in the possession of the declarant at the time of submission of the customs declaration and must be kept ready for the customs authorities.

However, within the framework of the IT procedure ATLAS, the presentation of commercial documents (commercial invoices, freight invoices, etc.) as well as preferential proofs is waived.


In principle, however, all documents available at the time of the customs declaration must be listed accordingly in field 44 of the customs declaration. These are mostly the commercial invoice, proforma invoice for customs purposes, delivery bill, packing list etc.

5.   Note

The relevant aids (manuals and leaflets) can be found on the website of the German customs administration under "Forms and leaflets".

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