Complaint against German customs – is it worth it?

Many of our clients ask themselves whether a complaint against the German customs office makes sense. You have to distinguish them, though. The law gives different possibilities, not all are equally promising.

Why does it come to complaints against German customs offices?

There are various reasons why there are complaints against customs offices at all. The customs office often criticises certain information provided by the company during import clearance. The largest proportion of cases is probably the indication of the customs tariff number. As the duty rate depends on this and thus directly affects the financial burden on the company, the importer often complains when the customs office sets a different customs tariff number.

In other cases, however, the behaviour of the customs office is also harassing. Then, for example, import shipments are recorded or regular customs inspections are ordered. These can severely disrupt the logistics processes and also lead to complaints from the company.

We have also seen in individual cases that customs officials have shown themselves to be disrespectful and uncooperative, about which companies have also complained.

What are the possibilities for complaints against customs offices?

There are many ways to complain to customs under German customs law. For example, an administrative complaint could be lodged against the behaviour of individual customs officials. It is also possible to involve the higher authority, i.e. the main customs office. As the main customs office takes over the supervision of the subordinate customs offices, a complaint can be effectively placed here.

Possibilities of complaint against German customs

  • Service Supervision Complaint against Individual Customs Officers
  • Reversal
  • formal objection and action against customs orders

However, companies must be aware that a mere disciplinary complaint or communication to the superior office rarely promises success. Companies cannot avoid the burden of such a measure in the form of notices, e.g. on payment of arrears. So anyone who only lodges such an informal appeal risks that tax assessments become final in the meantime and can then only be challenged to a limited extent.

It is therefore more important for companies to file a objection with customs instead of lodging a complaint. Then the behaviour of the customs authorities, including all legal effects, is fully reviewed and a subsequent judicial review is also possible.

Whether an appeal is successful or not is best assessed by a customs attorney. For example, against an order for a customs examination, it must be carefully examined whether an objection is promising at all, since customs have a certain discretion. In most cases it makes sense here to investigate the causes of constant customs inspections and not just to lodge a complaint or a mere objection.

Companies wishing to lodge a complaint or an objection with customs can contact us at any time. We will then advise you on the existing possibilities.

Lawyer Dr. Tristan Wegner

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