Amazon & German Packaging Law


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.


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?


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.


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…?


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 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 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…


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


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)


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,

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.


I believe you need to register if you sell specifically to a german “target audience” i.e. if you list items on, but if a german customer buys from 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.


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).


Is that 100% accurate?


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.


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


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.


“The country’s pending VerpackG legislation will affect all manufacturers, importers, distributors and online retailers placing goods for sale on the German market,” commented Michelle Carvell, COO of consultancy firm, Lorax Compliance.

I don’t see as a German market. Private German individuals choosing to buy off a foreign marketplace is not the same as placing goods for sale in the German marketplace.


I couldn’t remember how the original documents were worded.
In this context goods are considered as being “on the german market” if they are listed on a website specifically targeting german customers in some way.
This is usually any of:

  • websites with a german domain name (such as those ending in .de)
  • websites that have a language selection which includes german as an option.
  • websites that list currency options by country and the options include germany (listing “euros” as a general option without specifically naming them as the currency used in Germany doesn’t count).
  • storing goods in germany with the aim to provide faster/cheaper shipping to german customers, regardless of the channel they purchase from (storing them in germany and shipping to france for instance does NOT count here since the goods don’t end up with german consumers in this case)

There’s probably a few other cases I forgot about.


I would suspect that actively targeting advertising to German shoppers also counts.


How would they monitor this law, without opening thousands of packages and seeing who is sending them ?

Sellers using FBA from the UK will have the Amazon outer packaging, as Amazon themselves are sellers all of their packages would probably not be checked as Amazon as a entity would have paid the packaging fee and registered (you would think so).

Also, FBA sellers that are below the €100K distance selling threshold would not have registered for VAT so they will not be registered with authorities in Germany. Those that are registered for VAT could easily be checked by the authorities to see if they are registered under the packaging regulations.

I can’t see how they would enforce this for FBA sellers that are not registered for VAT and shipping from UK under Amazon packaging.


There is something called “Abmahnung” in Germany - not the authorities are monitoring, if you have registered, but other sellers can issue a costly “Abmahnung”, if you are in the same market segment and you are not registered. Costly usually means a low 4 Digit up to 5 Digit sums, muich more if caught a second time. And yes, that penalty is enforcable, for example by sacking your Amazon inventory.
And yes, it does happen, latest wave of “Abmahnungen” as lately as last week AFAIR.


As far as I understand, this is not just a German packaging law, it is an EU wide directive and applies across the whole of the EU.