Companies are obliged to cooperate during the duration of a customs inspection. For this reason, many companies endeavour to keep the duration of customs audits as short as possible. In this article we would like to provide you with some information about the duration of a customs inspection and its regular scope.

Duration of customs audit depending on scope of audit

How long a customs inspection really takes cannot be said in general terms.

There are companies where the customs inspection takes just one day or a few hours. Especially when there is only a small import volume, the customs inspection is quickly over again.

Large companies with a large number of products may well be subject to longer customs inspections. As a general rule, it should be noted that, in any event, the duty only carries out sampling in the framework of its investigation. In this respect, even in a large company, customs will not allow itself to be shown all transactions.

The duration of the customs inspection depends on the following:

  • Initial inspection or follow-up inspection
  • Irregularities or no complaints
  • Sample or full inspection
  • Duration of the period under review
  • Size of the company
  • Number of imported products

Of course, in a large company there are many more documents that customs have to look at. Accordingly, the external audit by the competent main customs office naturally takes longer in a large company.

Of course, the examination by the customs administration also takes longer if irregularities are found. If no objections are found, the customs inspector will generally not carry out particularly extensive additional checks on the person concerned.

However, if errors are found in the determination, the test is naturally extended. Often, the auditor is no longer satisfied with a sample of imports, but wants to see all transactions that correspond to a particular sample. In such cases, the duration of the customs audit may well increase.

If the company also wishes to have a final meeting with the auditor to discuss violations or optimizations, there will of course be more time to do so.

Scope of customs inspection decisive

How long the customs inspection takes, of course, also depends on the scope stated in the inspection order. If, for example, only individual transactions are to be checked (for example, preference checks), the customs check is usually completed within a few hours.

In the case of a regular inspection by customs, however, the last three years are usually checked. In such cases, the duration of the customs inspection is naturally longer. Accordingly, companies that read the audit order carefully will get an idea of how long the customs inspection is likely to take.


Dieser Artikel wurde am 13. December 2018 erstellt. Die fachliche Zweitprüfung hat Rechtsanwalt Dr. Tristan Wegner durchgeführt.

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