Appeal against German customs

An objection to a customs assessment should always be submitted by a lawyer specialising in German customs law.

If the course has not been set correctly in the opposition proceedings, it may not be possible to win the later proceedings before the fiscal courts.

In addition, a legal examination of the facts minimizes the risk that “sleeping dogs” may be awakened by unnecessary information from the party involved. Inconsiderate statements can lead to criminal proceedings and possibly to further disadvantages on the part of the customs administration.

Our attorneys will support you with customs objections against the German customs offices as follows:

  • Filing of a formal objection to the duty
  • Assessment of the prospects of success of a customs appeal in advance
  • careful reasoning, which responds to the arguments of the customs and invalidates them
  • Monitoring of all deadlines and formalities
  • if necessary, an action against the customs assessment before the tax court

Checking the prospects of success and filing objections is part of the daily business of our customs lawyers in Hamburg. Simply contact us at 040 / 369615-0 or send us an e-mail.

Unfortunate news: Managing Director receives erroneous customs assessment and repayment by German Customs (Zoll). Does an objection to the customs assessment make sense?

When is a customs notification incorrect?

A customs assessment can be incorrect for many reasons. An objection procedure against the main customs office is particularly useful if

  • Customs duties have been set too high by customs (or import sales tax and excise duty)
  • the customs value is not recognised as the basis of assessment,
  • has classified the product under an unfavourable tariff heading involving higher customs duties or anti-dumping duties
  • after a customs audit, there is a risk of back payment of duty,
  • the origin of a product is not recognised (e.g. the customs authorities suspect Chinese origin)
  • a requested binding tariff information is not issued or is revoked as requested
  • Customs authorisations (deferment account, authorised exporter, AEO etc.) may be revoked,
  • No export refund is granted, or
  • Preference certificates are not recognised

In our practice, we usually see that an appeal is lodged when duties have been overcharged and overstated. This has a direct financial impact.

However, a customs assessment can also be wrong for other reasons. For example, the procedure may have been violated by failing to hold a hearing or by refusing to allow the customs authorities to inspect the necessary files.

When should an objection be filed?

The opposition procedure differs from a mere complaint in that it is a formal appeal procedure.

The customs authorities are therefore required by law to re-examine the customs assessment for its legality.

One should therefore always appeal against a customs notice if one has doubts about the correctness of the notice.

The objection procedure is free of charge for the German customs authorities. This is another reason why this possibility should be used with the help of a lawyer.

Time limit for appealing against the customs decision

An appeal against the customs decision must be lodged within one month. The objection must therefore be received by the Customs within this period.

If this deadline is missed, a decision becomes final and can no longer be appealed against.

The time when the notification was delivered to your representative (e.g. the forwarding agent) is decisive for the calculation of the deadline. Some forward customs letters many days later. The time limit for lodging an objection may therefore be shorter than expected.

Opposition deadline missed? Please contact us anyway – in many cases strategic measures can help you to find a remedy after all

In addition, this objection must be addressed to the competent main customs office, which is mentioned in the information on appeals. It must also be ensured that

  • the customs office is correctly identified,
  • the appellant is correctly named,
  • the formalities are complied with
  • and a valid statement of reasons is provided with the appeal

The relevant procedural law for legal protection against customs authorities has been left to the national legislator. In Germany, legal redress against customs is regulated by the German Tax Code (AO) and the Fiscal Court Code (FGO).

Objection to customs assessment by lawyer

Although companies can also file an appeal themselves, it is advisable to seek legal assistance.

For the mere filing of the opposition is not sufficient. The decisive factor is that a sound statement of reasons must be provided. Even if the grounds are not yet a prerequisite for filing an opposition, the Main Customs Office will request them in the course of the opposition proceedings.

According to § 364b AO, the customs office can also set a deadline for the company to justify the objection. If this deadline is not met, the authority will decide according to the state of the file at the time the deadline expires. This should be avoided in any case, as good arguments in favour of the company may then no longer be taken into account by customs.

Objections to customs notices should be carefully substantiated.

Businesses should not forget that the customs authority usually checks itself during the objection procedure. In itself, the customs authority has already committed itself by issuing its decision. Some arguments are therefore needed to convince the customs to change its mind.

In this respect, it is crucial that the right legal arguments are processed in order to convince the customs authorities. The customs lawyers at O&W also know most of the officials in the main customs offices and know how they “tick”.

In addition, customs are even allowed a so-called “verböserung”. This means that after an objection, it can set the customs duties even higher than before. This should be avoided in any case.

A customs lawyer should therefore lodge the objection and also give reasons for it, so that businesses are not disadvantaged.

How do you file an appeal against a customs notice?

Before filing a suit with the tax court, you must lodge an objection with the customs authorities.

In the objection procedure, the legality and expediency of the initial decision is re-examined by the authorities and, if necessary, amended retroactively by the objection decision. If the authorities do not remedy the situation, an action can be brought before the fiscal courts within a further month.

Import duties must be paid provisionally

It is important that the objection in customs law does not have a so-called “suspensive effect”.

Therefore, the customs duties entered in the books and the import turnover tax must first be paid, even if an objection has been lodged.

However, an application for temporary suspension of enforcement may be filed. This makes it all the more important to file a formal opposition and not just a mere appeal.

You would like to file an appeal against customs or know your chances of success?

For companies: 15 minutes free initial consultation+49 40 369615-0or send an e-mail