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The export accompanying document is proof from the competent customs office that the export is admissible. The terms export declaration or export declaration are often used synonymously for the export accompanying document.

Since 1 July 2009, export declarations must be submitted in electronic form – the export accompanying document has thus replaced the export declaration in paper form. If goods are dispatched without the necessary export accompanying document, then this is a violation of foreign trade law. Such violations will be punished accordingly by the German customs administration.

But when is an export accompanying document necessary, how do I create one and what information does it actually contain? These are all justified questions, which we would like to take a closer look at with you in the following.

When do I need an export accompanying document?

The first question that arises is certainly under what conditions I need an export accompanying document at all. You absolutely need an export accompanying document if you want to export certain goods to third countries, i.e. to countries not belonging to the European Union, if you either want to ship a consignment with a value of more than 1,000 € or if the value of your consignment does not reach the 1,000 € limit but has a total weight of more than 1,000 kg.

You do not need an export accompanying document for goods below these limits. In principle, oral import declarations at the competent border customs office, sea or airport are sufficient for such consignments. However, it is necessary that you present an invoice or another meaningful commercial document with your oral registration.

However, you are also free to register such a shipment electronically if this seems reasonable to you for reasons of your internal company processes.

How to create an export accompanying document?

If you have now determined that you must create an export accompanying document for your goods, then you may ask yourself in the next step how exactly the generation of such a document now works.

First of all, you can either create such a document yourself in your company, or you can hand it over to an external company. Since you must have the appropriate software available for independent processing, it may be advisable to outsource export processing if you only have a small number of exports. We recommend that you carry out an appropriate cost analysis.

If you have decided to carry out the export yourself, you can create the export accompanying document online. As already mentioned above, registration in paper form has not been required since 2009. The necessary signature can be executed electronically.

However, it is precisely this signature that requires that you use special software when creating the export accompanying document. The easiest way to do this is to use the ATLAS system. If a software connection to the ATLAS system exists, this is already considered a “signature”.

For the sake of completeness, however, we would also like to point out that there are other certified software solutions that you can use to create your export accompanying documents. IAA Plus” should be mentioned here. With this program, data transmission is then encrypted via a corresponding customs Internet portal. However, ELSTER‘s electronic signature must be used for messages that are not sent via the ATLAS system, but purely via the Internet. You may already know ELSTER if you submit your tax return electronically to the tax office. Since every company in Germany is subject to taxation, the electronic signature should already exist in your company, so that no major problems should generally arise in this respect.

Tip: When working with IAA Plus, however, you should note that you must already have a customs number (EORI number). If you do not yet have such a customs number, you can easily apply for one at the Directorate General of Customs. The allocation of such an EORI number is free of charge for you. As a rule, the grant will take three to four weeks. You will be informed of the number in due course by post. In the meantime, you have the possibility to be represented by a customs agency or a forwarding agency.

What is the Export Accompanying Document for?

The export accompanying document is a formal export declaration to domestic customs which fulfils two main functions in particular.

On the one hand, it serves the statistical recording of flows of goods for foreign trade statistics and, on the other hand, the control of prohibitions and restrictions in foreign trade. For this reason, you must always specify each item individually when exporting. Within your export declaration, all goods you have specified are then sorted according to the corresponding goods numbers / customs tariff numbers.

The export accompanying document can then contain a wide variety of different information on the goods cleared for customs clearance. From the document, for example:

(Source: DHL –

What happens after the document has been created

As soon as you have correctly declared the export to the competent customs office, you will automatically receive the export accompanying document as exporter or declarant of the goods, if the competent customs office has verified the admissibility of your export.

All you have to do is print out the export accompanying document and enclose it with your shipment. To avoid difficulties, you should attach the document clearly visible and firmly to your shipment.

Please note that the document will only be printed correctly in a very specific font due to the barcodes it contains. It may therefore be necessary to download the corresponding font (TrueType font code 128). The font can be downloaded free of charge from the Customs website.

The export accompanying document contains the 18-digit reference number of the consignment, the so-called Master Reference Number (MRN), and a barcode. If the goods then leave the European Union, this barcode is scanned and a corresponding output note (AgV) is automatically generated. The barcode replaces the paper stamp imprint otherwise required for the export accompanying document.

The MRN makes every shipping process identifiable and embodies the shipping information in itself.

To clarify for you the composition of the following, completely arbitrarily and exemplarily selected MRN number:

MRN 18EN5102000011122M9

I.                     The “18” represents the year in which the export accompanying document was generated, so that the first two figures are identical for all documents produced in 2018.

II.                   Positions three and four are also fixed. The “DE” is a two-digit country code and in this case stands for Germany.

III                 The following four digits represent a four-digit code for the customs office of departure. This is the office number of the customs authority which opens the customs procedure, in this case the Hanover customs office.

IV.00011122 is a serial number of the IT procedure “ATLAS”. It is awarded uniformly throughout Germany and is recounted each year on an ongoing basis.

V.               The”M” indicates the type of transit procedure. M is used for transit procedures that have already been opened, while “A” stands for transit procedures that have yet to be finally opened at the customs offices.

VI.                 The “9” stands for a random check digit. It is randomly generated by an incomprehensible logarithm for reasons of fraud security.


If you have printed out the export accompanying document and firmly linked it to your goods, the actual export of the goods takes place in a two-step procedure. This means that you must declare your consignment both at the export office, i.e. the competent customs office at the exporter’s head office, and at the customs office of exit of the European Union.

You as exporter must then transport your goods to the customs office of exit, for which the export accompanying document is in principle already a mandatory prerequisite.

Tip: It is imperative that you ensure that the export accompanying document is submitted on time and has the option of accompanying the transport. Companies must adjust their internal processes accordingly and adjust them if necessary

The customs office of exit may then either authorise or prohibit export or, where appropriate, order control measures.

If it allows export, the customs office of exit of the customs office of export shall confirm the exit by transmitting the operation of the exit or the result of the check.

The customs office of export then completes the export procedure by drawing up an exit note. The export note is the second important export document colloquially known as the export certificate. The MRN of the operation is noted on the outgoing note as well as on the export accompanying document. In addition, the exit note also serves as proof for tax purposes.

Tip: You must keep the original note as proof for a period of ten years

You need legal advice on export? Then please contact us.

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