What is customs and what is the meaning of the term customs?

The term customs is used for various things:

  • The customs office, entry point for goods into free circulation and
  • The levy, which may be incurred on importation of goods

If goods and raw materials are imported into the EU from a third country, they must be declared at a customs office. This customs office can be located directly at the place where the goods enter the EU, such as the port of Hamburg or Frankfurt airport. This customs office is called the customs office of entry.

However, the imported goods can also be declared first at a domestic customs office. Since duty unpaid goods may not simply be transported through the EU, a special transport document must be created for them. With this document, the goods may then be transported from the point of entry to the point of import, where they are then cleared through customs.

When exporting goods, the situation is similar; here, the customs offices are called export and exit customs offices.

The customs duty - What is it?

When importing goods from a third country, customs duties are incurred. These usually correspond to a percentage of the value of the goods, but may also apply to quantities by weight or number of pieces.


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