Amazon & German Packaging Law


#1

Does Amazon.de require/enforce registered sellers to have a valid registration covering the German Packaging Law, or is it left to individual sellers to comply independently of Amazon?


#2

Of course Amazon do not make sellers comply, that is down to each individual seller taking into account ALL your sales channels, not just Amazon.
But choosing NOT to comply with the law would be a foolhardy risk.
It isn’t a choice that you should make.


#3

I registered last year. Do you think they will write to us about renewal or will we need to instigate it?


#4

I don’t know, but if I were you I would mark your calendar and make sure you remain registered correctly.
The penalties for failing to do so would probably be punitive compared to the cost of renewing.


#5

@Adrian - Thank you for your response - so the answer is No then.

Just looking into how a national law passed in Germany would be enforced outside the jurisdiction of that country.

Amazon.de has a physical presence in Germany - so I can see how they could be required to comply and thus ensure that all the sellers on that platform had complied. It would be a simple way to ensure compliance on a large number of sellers - so I’m a little puzzled as to why they don’t go down that route.

Germany does not enforce the Packaging Law at Customs. My understanding is that is because to do so would contravene EU rules on the free movement of goods.

That in turn implies that the law can only be enforced if the business concerned has a physical presence in the jurisdiction of the country in which the law has been passed.

Everyone seems to be rolling over on this one - just wondering why?


#6

Apparently the penalties are a fine of up to €200,000 and potentially a ban on placing items for sale on the German market. Flouting that ban would likely fall under similar provisions as contempt of court.


#7

We’re not “rolling over”. We’re simply complying with German law because we sell into Germany. This packaging law applies to all sales from outside Germany to German-domiciled customers, no matter what platform the sales originate from, including Amazon UK, eBay and company websites. It’s up to you whether you want to take the risk of getting “caught” but the fine is pretty hefty. Only a lawyer could properly advise whether the law is enforceable outside Germany, but we’d be surprised if the German government had passed a law it knew it couldn’t enforce.


#8

Or that the DE authorities can decide to block any seller, who does not comply with the packaging law, from making sales into DE.
Is the cost of complying so heavy that you would rather risk having your sales to DE shut down completely?


#9

Here is a hypothetical question. Where would German authorities identify the difference between 1 parcel shipped from the UK to a German customer sold on a UK marketplace and an identical parcel sold on a German marketplace? Under packaging law they are treated differently.


#10

That’s a nice hypothetical question. In our case, it’s because our return address is printed on the label on the front of the package, but in other cases…?


#11

Even that doesn’t really matter.

German packaging law does not apply to goods purchased on an overseas marketplace and imported by a German buyer. It only covers goods being made available for sale/purchased on a German marketplace.

So two identical items could be purchased by a German buyer.

Parcel 1 sold on Amazon.de and shipped from a UK seller in the UK to Germany. This should be covered by German packaging laws as it was made available and purchased on a German marketplace.

Parcel 2 sold on Amazon.co.uk and shipped from a UK seller in the UK to Germany. This is not covered by German packaging law because it was purchased on an overseas marketplace despite all other appearances and circumstances being identical…


#12

I was under the impression it applied to all sales to DE addresses, no matter the source market place?


#13

Definitely not. If that were the case practically every seller in Europe would need to sign up if they enabled European shipping. (I’m talking about private websites as much/more than Amazon here)


#14

That was my understanding too, translated from German, but that’s the impression I got after reading this, (scroll to point 4.1.1)

the trading company with its registered office abroad, exports the packaging filled with goods to Germany and bears the legal responsibility for the goods at the time of the border crossing (registration and system participation fee for primary and dispatch packaging)

From here,
https://www.verpackungsregister.org/information-orientierung/hilfe-erklaerung/faq/

Etsy has also put a guide on their site written by a member of their legal team basically saying it applies to anyone sending goods to Germany. Unlike Amazon, Etsy has no dedicated DE site, so it’s impossible to target just the German market if a seller is based outside of the country.


#15

I believe you need to register if you sell specifically to a german “target audience” i.e. if you list items on Amazon.de, but if a german customer buys from Amazon.co.uk then this wouldn’t trigger the need to register, however when you do register you need to account for ALL packages sent to Germany, not just those that were targeted at a german audience.

We completed registration on the very last day before this law went live, at that point in time the publicly available list of all registrations only had 520 UK businesses on it.


#16

This was gone through ad infinitum just like the German VAT obligation a few months ago and was also covered by another vague Amazon news announcement. The upshot of it all is as Clearanceshed has indicated. If you sell on a foreign (To Germany) ecommerce platform - whether that be a marketplace like Amazon or ebay or your own website - you are not obliged to register under the German packaging law. - unless you store your goods within Germany awaiting sales to German buyers.

The German buyer who purchases from a foreign website becomes the importer of record and therefore is responsible for all liabilities be they import duty, VAT or in this case packaging (Although the packaging law is not applied to individual purchasers).


#17

Is that 100% accurate?


#18

Of course. If a German buys a product on a UK website then they are the importer, not you. If you sell a product on a German website then you are marketing to German buyers - placing your products into the German marketplace.


#19

But the seller is an exporter, exporting goods to Germany, and therefore liable to deal with the issue of packaging.


#20

Technically, export is to leave, so yes, the seller exports FROM the UK. The buyer imports TO Germany.

If you are selling on a German marketplace or if the goods are already present in Germany then the seller is considered the one to have imported it.