Shipping from China to Germany: Customs, Cost, Transit Time and More [2024]

Whether your business is already importing from China to Germany or is looking to do so for the first time, this page is for you. It’s a rich resource of information and guidance that will help you decide the best way to ship commercial goods between China and Germany.

shipping from china to germany

Germany Customs Entry

For the purposes of European and Germany Customs, bringing goods into the EU for the first time, from another non-EU country (China), is termed an import.

Germany EORI Number

The EORI number (Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification number) is an operator identification number that is valid throughout the European Union and replaces the German customs number.

An economic operator is a person who, in the course of his or her business, is involved in activities covered by the customs legislation. An operator established in the European Union shall apply for the EORI number in the Member State where he or she is resident.

There is an obligation for economic operators to quote an EORI number on customs declarations. It is mandatory for you, who is involved in activities covered by the customs legislation, to have your unique EORI number.

You can request an EORI or change the recorded data via the Germany Customs Portal. EORI numbers are issued free.

Germany Tariff Code

Germany tariff code (11 digit) is based on the Harmonised System (HS) and determines the first six digits of the code number. The HS is a description and coding system aimed at providing a worldwide uniform classification of goods.

Building on this six digit code, the HS is extended with two digits by the combined nomenclature (CN) of the European Communities (places 7 + 8 of the code number). On the basis of this eight digit number, customs duties, textiles categories, bans and restrictions, or facts relating to import authorisations can be assigned during import clearance.

The ninth and tenth digits (known as TARIC = Integrated Tariff of the European Communities) encodes Community measures such as antidumping rules, duty suspensions or tariff quotas.

The eleventh digit of the code number is for Germany inside use only, and is, for example, used to encode VAT rates or national bans or restrictions.

Code NumberCode Structure
48Chapter - harmonised system
4819Heading - harmonised system
4819 10Subheading - harmonised system
4819 1000Subheading - combined nomenclature
4819 1000 00Subheading - TARIC/European Union
4819 1000 00 9Code number - Electronic customs tariff/Germany

The 11 digit code number must always be stated in an import declaration when shipping to Germany from China.

Rate of Duty and VAT 19%

You can access the electronic customs tariff (Elektronische Zolltarif-online – EZT-online), and the TARIC (Integrated Tariff of the European Communities) free of charge online to research the applicable code number yourself.

Generally, Germany will charge its standard VAT rate 19% on the import transaction from China. This must be settled prior to the release of the goods from customs. The goods are then in ‘free circulation’ and may be stored and sold or sent to another EU country.

Every shipment from China to Germany will be subject to customs formalities. The complexity of the rules and regulations can be off-putting for businesses. That’s why many choose to engage a freight forwarder for the task. Doing so minimizes the risk of delay and ensures your consignment complies with local and international shipping laws.

Sea Freight to Germany

Understanding the intricacies of sea freight services to Germany is essential for businesses engaged in international trade. In most cases, sea freight can be a cost-effective and reliable option for shipping goods to Germany.

Top Container Ports in Germany

Gateway to the world – that is what Hamburg has been called for many centuries.

Today, the Port of Hamburg is not only the largest seaport in Germany and the third largest in Europe, but also Europe’s largest rail port – even leading worldwide in many areas of hinterland connections by rail. At the same time, it is the largest industrial area in northern Europe.

As the Europe’s No. 1 rail port, Hamburg also plays a key role in the New Silk Road to China, with 200 scheduled connections per week.

hamburg germany

State-of-the-art technology of the handling facilities, data communication systems, an efficient transport infrastructure and high-performance feeder and hinterland connections create the conditions for the exchange of goods with trading partners all over the world.

Other major Germany ports are:

  • Port of Bremen and Bremerhaven
  • Port of Wilhelmshaven
  • Port of Duisburg
  • Port of Emden
  • Port of Kiel
  • Port of Lubeck
  • Port of Frankfurt

Sea Freight Cost to Germany

Less than Container Load (LCL) can often be the most economical way of shipping goods to Germany. It involves transporting goods in a consolidated load, in which your consignment is combined in a shipping container with those of other shippers.

Full Container Load (FCL) is often quicker than LCL and sometimes cheaper, FCL is a mode of shipping in which businesses rent an entire container exclusively for their goods.

Calculating the price of an import from China to Germany requires a list of information below:

  • The type of cargo you are shipping
  • Whether you want to ship by rail or ocean (FCL or LCL)
  • The weight of your consignment
  • The size and volume of your freight
  • The distance needs to travel between origin and destination
  • Whether you want a port-to-port, port-to-door, door-to-port, or door-to-door service

Sea Freight Transit Time to Germany

The transit time of sea freight shipments to Germany depends on several factors, primarily the departure and arrival ports, and the shipping route. Weather conditions, port congestion, and potential delays in customs clearance can also impact overall shipping time.

Generally, shipping to Germany can take rough 1 month.

Air Freight to Germany

For importers that need their goods faster, or are shipping light or very valuable items, shipping air freight to Germany can be a great option. Generally speaking, air shipping is the best option for:

  • Goods with a short shelf-life.
  • Cargo that’s required in Germany urgently.
  • High-value goods that require the elevated levels of airline and airport security.
  • Smaller, lighter consignments that won’t take up large space.
  • Shipments in which the supplier and consignee are both nearer to airports than seaports.

Top 10 Airports in Germany

IATA CodeAirport NameAirport City
FRAFrankfurt am Main AirportFrankfurt am Main
BERAirport Berlin BrandenburgBerlin
MUCMunich AirportMunich
DUSDüsseldorf AirportDüsseldorf
TXLBerlin-Tegel AirportBerlin
HAMHamburg AirportHamburg
STRStuttgart AirportStuttgart
CGNCologne Bonn AirportCologne
HAJHannover AirportHannover
BREBremen AirportBremen

Top Express Companies

  • DHL
  • FedEx
  • UPS
  • GLS
  • DPD
  • Hermes

Air Freight Cost to Germany

International air freight shipments can still be quite large and may move across multiple carriers during shipment.

For very small shipments, usually less than one cubic meter and 200 kilograms, importers often ship express. Express air shipping to Germany is typically handled by companies such as DHL, UPS, or FedEx as opposed to large freight forwarders.

Getting accurate, transparent air freight rates and quotes for shipping to Germany is a crucial step in planning your supply chain.

Air Freight Transit Time to Germany

Air freight shipments to Germany are generally much faster than other modes of transportation. Air freight can arrive in days rather than weeks.

The exact shipping time to Germany varies based on factors including the distance between the departure and arrival airports, the specific air routes, and any potential layovers or connections.

CFC News - May 22, 2024

Additional rate increases set for June show the carriers do not expect conditions to improve in the short term.

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My machine arrived in good order and I am happy with CFC's shipping arrangements. I received quotes from other forwarding companies but they kept changing the amounts. Your quote was exact and there were no hidden charges. I would be happy to recommend CFC to other importers of goods from China.

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