To be successful in the German market, sellers must be aware of the regulatory requirements that exist when shipping to and from Germany. There is no criteria more important than the obligations associated with the German Packaging Act (VerpackG).
The Packaging Act came into force in 2019 and the legislation was further tightened in July 2022. When it comes to obeying the regulations of the Act, online retailers, electronic marketplaces and eCommerce fulfilment service providers are all in the same boat.
Businesses with lax handling conditions will experience high penalties for failing to comply with the law. Fines can easily reach the €200,000 mark. To qualify for trading in Germany, you must register your business via the LUCID packaging register and participate in one or more dual systems involved.
According to the Federal Environment Agency and Central Packaging Register, the rules in Germany are intended to make businesses assume “responsibility under waste law”. But to what extent do online retailers need to personally shoulder this responsibility, and which areas should they pay particular attention to when protecting themselves against penalties?
Read on to learn about the key areas to focus on when shipping to Germany.
Who is affected by the VerpackG Packaging Act?
All companies that place product or shipping packaging on the German market are subject to VerpackG regulations, and responsibility ultimately lies with the person/people actively fulfilling packages.
The Central Packaging Register remains vague about shipping to Germany from abroad. The official legislation simply states: “the importer is obliged to register and participate in the system. (This is the person who bears responsibility for the goods when crossing the border)”.
If you sell items that you also manufacture, you’re personally responsible for taking care of all product packaging requirements. This is particularly true of online retailers who ship their own goods. Not only is the finished packaging process subject to law, but so are the various components used. This includes a variety of materials, including:
The Packaging Act does not affect businesses that undertake dropshipping. This is the process in which goods are not handled by the business directly and are instead overseen by a manufacturer or wholesaler who controls the packaging and shipping of sales to Germany.
Employing the services of a fulfilment service provider based outside your domestic territory who you’ve outsourced fulfilment to, places responsibility of all aspects squarely in their hands, much like dropshipping laws.
Online retailers who export goods to Germany are not subject to VerpackG legislation. However, businesses should research which regulations apply in their target market(s).
In July 2022, the European Commission planned to present a circular economy package but have since announced that the earliest publication for this will be at the end of November 2022. Since this is essentially about the EU Packaging Directive, retailers should monitor the development of national legislation in the European countries relevant to them.
What does the VerpackG Packaging Act oblige us to do?
Your obligations under the Packaging Act are derived from your business model. Anyone who integrates a fulfilment service provider as a third party, in addition to the Courier Express Parcel service (CEP), does not need to be involved with the licensing of shipment packaging. As a rule, your processing partners are responsible for following the detailed criteria of packing and shipping to Germany. However, if you’ve chosen to undertake this yourself, you are personally subject to the law and should immediately take the following steps:
In this explanatory video of the Central Packaging Register, you will learn everything you need to know about the registration process. Please keep in mind that the register is publicly accessible. If you’ve failed to register your business so far, this could be a welcome opportunity for competitors to put obstacles in your way. You’ll often find that end customers are interested in registration and include it in their purchase decision.
This is achieved by licensing the estimated amount of packaging material produced during a business or calendar year into a dual system. To do this, you will need the LUCID registration number. You have a choice of various private providers of dual systems.
Once a company is registered, new packaging can be licensed quickly. If you use many different formats and materials and want to be on the safe side, you may be better off with a fulfilment provider. As a UK-based service provider, Huboo participates in this system to guarantee your business a VerpackG-compliant experience.
We are happy to support you in the implementation of the Packaging Act for your company. Contact us now for more guidance.
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