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Trade Regulations and Standards

Import Tariffs

U.S. exporters seeking to enter the German market can obtain useful information from the Office of European Union and Regional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce. When provided with a product's Schedule B Number, the Office for EU and Regional Affairs supplies tariff information for American products exported to Germany. The Office's phone number is 1-800 USA TRADE or (202) 482-0543. For the Schedule B Number, please contact the Bureau of the Census.

An alternative source for EU customs tariffs is:

A general overview of customs issues can also be obtained by visiting the following web page: http://export.gov (TIC Trade Information Center, U.S. Department of Commerce)

Import Turnover Tax
All industrial imports into Germany are subject to an "Import Turnover Tax" of 19%, which is charged on the duty-paid value of the import article plus the customs duty, which varies by item. (Exemptions: certain agricultural and a few other products, which are taxed 7% ad valorem.) The Import Turnover Tax is designed to place the same tax burden on imported goods as goods produced domestically, on which is levied a 19% "Value-added Tax" (VAT). The German customs authorities collect both customs duty and Import Turnover Tax.

It is important, however, to collect and present all invoices as originals in order to deduct any VAT charges from one's own tax liability or to get reimbursed by the German Ministry of Finance, if eligible.

Trade Barriers

Germany's regulations and bureaucratic procedures can be a difficult hurdle for companies wishing to enter the market and require close attention by U.S. exporters. Complex safety standards, not normally discriminatory but sometimes zealously applied, complicate access to the market for many U.S. products. U.S. suppliers are well advised to do their homework thoroughly and make sure they know precisely which standards apply to their product and that they obtain timely testing and certification.

For information on existing trade barriers, please see the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, published by USTR and available through the following website: http://www.ustr.gov/Document_Library/Reports_Publications/2007/2007_NTE_Report/Section_Index.html?ht.

Information on agricultural trade barriers can be found at the following website: http://www.useu.usmission.gov/agri/usda.html.

To report existing or new trade barriers and get assistance in removing them, contact either the Trade Compliance Center at http://trade.gov/tcc or the U.S. Mission to the European Union at http://www.buyusa.gov/europeanunion.

Import Requirements and Documentation

The Integrated Tariff of the Community, referred to as TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté), is designed to show various rules applying to specific products being imported into the customs territory of the EU or, in some cases, when exported from it. To determine if a license is required for a particular product, check the TARIC.

The TARIC can be searched by country of origin, Harmonized System (HS) Code, and product description on the interactive website of the Directorate-General for Taxation and the Customs Union. The online TARIC is updated daily:

Many EU Member States maintain their own list of goods subject to import licensing.
For example, Germany's "Import List" (Einfuhrliste) includes goods for which licenses are required, their code numbers, any applicable restrictions, and the agency that will issue the relevant license. The Import List also indicates whether the license is required under German or EU law.

Imported goods must be accompanied by a customs declaration, which has to be submitted in writing, and an invoice in duplicate. Normally the German importer files this declaration. The commercial invoice must show the country of purchase and the country of origin of the goods. The invoice should contain:

  • (company) and address of seller and buyer
    • Place and date of issue
    • Number, kind of packages
    • Precise description of articles
    • Volume or quantity in normal commercial units
    • Invoice price (in invoice currency)
    • Terms of delivery and
    • Payment.

In addition, a certificate of origin may be required in some cases.
Import duties and taxes are subject to change and companies are well advised to verify the correct tariff level shortly before carrying out any export transaction. For further information, including current customs tariffs, please visit:


The summary declaration is to be lodged by:
• the person who brought the goods into the customs territory of the Community or by any person who assumes responsibility for carriage of the goods following such entry; or
• the person in whose name the person referred to above acted.

Non-EU goods presented to customs must be assigned a customs-approved treatment or use authorized for such non-Community goods. Where goods are covered by a summary declaration, the formalities for them to be assigned a customs-approved treatment or use must be carried out:
• 45 days from the date on which the summary declaration is lodged in the case of goods carried by sea;
• 20 days from the date on which the summary declaration is lodged in the case of goods carried other than by sea.
Where circumstances so warrant, the customs authorities may set a shorter period or authorize an extension of the period.

The Modernized Customs Code (MCC) of the European Union entered into force on 24 June 2008. The MCC replaced Regulation 2913/92 and simplifies various procedures such as introducing a paperless environment, centralized clearance, and more.  Check the EU’s Customs website for updates: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/procedural_aspects/general/community_code/index_en.htm

U.S. Export Controls

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Export Administration Regulations

(EAR), which regulate the export and re-export of some commercial items, including

“production” and “development” technology.

The items that BIS regulates are often referred to as “dual use” since they have both commercial and military applications. Further information on export controls is available at: http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/licensing

BIS has developed a list of "red flags," or warning signs, intended to discover possible violations of the EAR. These are posted at:

Also, BIS has "Know Your Customer" guidance at:

If there is reason to believe a violation is taking place or has occurred, report it to the

Department of Commerce by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1(800) 424-2980, or via the confidential lead page at: http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/component/rsform/form/14-reporting-violations-form

The EAR does not control all goods, services, and technologies. Other U.S. government agencies regulate more specialized exports. For example, the U.S. Department of State has authority over defense articles and services. A list of other agencies involved in export control can be found on the BIS web.

It is important to note that in August 2009, the President directed a broad-based interagency review of the U.S. export control system, with the goal of strengthening national security and the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors by focusing on current threats, as well as adapting to the changing economic and technological landscape. As a result, the Administration launched the Export Control Reform Initiative (ECR Initiative) which is designed to enhance U.S. national security and strengthen the United States’ ability to counter threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The Administration is implementing the reform in three phases. Phases I and II reconcile various definitions, regulations, and policies for export controls, all the while building toward Phase III, which will create a single control list, single licensing agency, unified information technology system, and enforcement coordination center.

For additional information on ECR see: http://export.gov/ecr/index.asp

BIS provides a variety of training seminars to U.S. exporters throughout the year. These

seminars range from one to two day seminars and focus on the basics of exporting as

well as more advanced topics. A list of upcoming seminars can be found at:


For further details about the Bureau of Industry and Security and its programs, please visit the BIS website at: http://www.bis.doc.gov/

Temporary Entry

For temporary entry it is usually advisable to purchase an ATA Carnet, which allows for the temporary, duty-free entry of goods into over 50 countries, and is issued by the United States Council for International Business by appointment of the U.S. Customs Service: www.uscib.org.

Labeling and Marking Requirements

The European Union does not generally legislate packaging and labeling requirements, but does so for what it sees as specific high-risk products. In the absence of any EU-wide rules, the exporter has to consult national regulations or inquire about voluntary agreements among forwarders that affect packaging and labeling of containers, outside packaging, etc. Importers or freight forwarders should be able to advise U.S. exporters on shipping documents and outer packaging/labeling. European Union customs legislation only regulates administrative procedures, such as type of certificate and the mention of rule of origin on the customs forms and shipping documents.
Product-specific packaging and labeling requirements applicable throughout the EU apply to food, medicines, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other items EU authorities regard as high-risk. The stated purpose of harmonizing such legislation throughout the EU is to minimize the risk for consumers (the end user).
The CE mark is mandatory in the EU countries for any electrical apparatus and often more than one CE mark law may apply.


Since its inception ten years ago, many companies have recognized the benefits of adopting the EU Eco-Label scheme. There are currently 135 companies licensed under the regime, and it has been awarded to 21 product groups. The products range from paints, detergents, and refrigerators to tourist accommodation. The number is growing and it is the only voluntary scheme that covers products moving across borders within the EU. It sets ecological criteria for a range of products and services in a transparent way so that the consumer can make a more informed choice in order to support sustainable consumption patterns. The EU Eco-Label program takes the lifecycle (from cradle to grave) of a product into account, e.g., the materials, health implications, and waste factors that may have an impact on the environment.

The “Blue Angel” is a voluntary environmental labeling program created in 1978. It is the oldest environment-related label in the world. The mark is awarded to products and services, which are beneficial to the environment. High standards of occupational health and safety, ergonomics, economical use of raw materials, service life and disposal are also factors covered under this “seal of approval.”

According to the German Ministry for Environmental Affairs, the Blue Angel offers companies the opportunity to document their environmental competence in a simple and inexpensive way, thereby enhancing their market image. About 3,700 products and services have been awarded the label, including, recently, mobile phones and marine transport.

An overview of EU mandatory and voluntary labeling and marking requirements has been compiled in a market research report that is available at: http://buyusainfo.net/docs/x_366090.pdf

The subject has been also been covered in the section about standards (see below).

Prohibited and Restricted Imports

The TARIC is designed to show various rules applying to specific products being imported into the customs territory of the EU or, in some cases, when exported from it. To determine if a product is prohibited or subject to restriction, check the TARIC for the following codes:

CITES Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species

PROHI Import Suspension

RSTR Import Restriction

For information on how to access the TARIC, see the Import Requirements and Documentation Section above.

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/customs_duties/tariff_aspects/customs_tariff/index_en.htm

Agricultural Imports

General Veterinary Requirements: In April 1997, the U.S. and the EU reached an equivalency agreement on an overall framework for recognizing each other’s veterinary inspection systems. The veterinary equivalency agreement covers more than USD 1.5 billion in U.S. animal product exports to the EU and an equal value of EU exports to the United States. The agreement preserved most pre-existing trade in products, such as pet food, dairy, and egg products. All beef and pork exported to Germany for human consumption must come from slaughterhouses, cutting plants, and cold stores approved for export to the EU. Since 1989, the EU has prohibited imports of beef from cattle treated with growth hormones. Soon after this ban went into effect, an agreement was reached between the United States and the EU that allows American producers of beef from animals not treated with hormones to export to the EU under certain conditions.
Beef: The EU beef market is largely insulated from the world market by high import duties. Import opportunities do exist, however, for selected products that are covered by fixed, relatively low tariffs or special quota. Most notably, the EU grants market access through a quota for annual imports of up to 11,500 MT of high-quality beef (HQB) from the United States and Canada. Beef entering the EU under the HBQ tariff-rate quota are subject to a 20 percent duty. In addition, starting in 2009, an autonomous tariff quota for high quality beef at zero percent duty was established for up to 20,000 MT per July/June marketing year. The basis for this HQB quota is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and the European Union. While this HQB quota is ergo omnes, with five countries currently qualified to participate, the quota was primarily installed for U.S. HQB to enter the EU market. In accordance with the provisions of the MOU, the zero-duty HQB quota moved to Phase II on August 1, 2012, with the annual quota amount increased from 20,000 MT to 48,200 MT.

Pork: Selected market opportunities exist for imports of pork. Market access within the EU has improved through the creation of a tariff-rate quota (TRQ) totaling 67,869 MT. The TRQ includes a 40,265 MT allocation for tenderloins, boneless loins and boneless hams. In addition, a 4,722 MT TRQ is reserved for boneless loins and boneless hams from the United States.

Poultry: Unfortunately, U.S. and EU negotiators have not been able to reach agreement on a number of important points during the veterinary equivalency negotiations, particularly in the poultry sector. The most contentious issue is the use of pathogen reduction treatments in U.S. poultry processing. Most forms of anti-microbial treatments are prohibited in the EU. The EU’s ban on anti-microbial treatments effectively blocks U.S. poultry exports to the EU, which were estimated at USD 50 million in 1996.

Dairy Products: The veterinary agreement allows for U.S. dairy products export to Germany and the EU from approved establishments under a fixed tariff.

Pet food: In the EU, pet food is not regulated by one specific piece of legislation. The EU’s feed marketing legislation covers food for companion animals as well as food for all other animals. Pet food is often also subject to the EU’s veterinary legislation which has different product coverage than the feed marketing legislation. The veterinary legislation covers products of animal origin and hay/straw as these present a risk for spreading animal diseases. The EU’s approach in dealing with these risks consists of a system of mandatory consignment notification and inspection at port of entry as well as product establishment approval and export certification in the country of origin. Specific certification rules have been developed for various product groups, including “animal by-products.” The EU’s animal by-product legislation contains several certificates required for successfully shipping pet food with animal origin ingredients. All exports of U.S. pet food to the European Union must comply with EU requirements which include rules on labeling, hygiene, animal health, certification and the use of additives. U.S. pet food exporters must verify the full set of import requirements with their EU customers. Final import approval is subject to the importing country’s rules as interpreted by border officials at the time of product entry. (Please see link below for more information: “Exporting Pet Food to the EU” (FAS GAIN Report)

Plant Health: As part of the Single Market exercise, plant health regulations in the 27 European Union Member States have been harmonized. The regulations went into effect on June 1, 1993, for the 15 members then in the EU and in 2004 for the new accession countries. The EU has been successful in reducing the number of phytosanitary restrictions and new marketing opportunities have been created for U.S. horticultural exports. Phytosanitary certificates are required for many imported fresh products.  With respect to the use of solid wooden packing materials (SWPM), it is important to note that the EU requires that all SWPM be either heat treated or fumigated beginning July 1, 2009.  In addition to these treatment requirements, the material has to be free of bark.  EU scientists fear that improperly treated SWPM is at risk for re-infestation. International plant protection standards as agreed upon by the United States do not require the absence of bark. Exporters should carefully follow the status of EU import requirements to avoid problems at the EU port of entry.

Horticultural Products: Germany is an important market for United States horticultural products. Principal products include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, prunes, raisins, citrus, and pears. Horticultural products entering Germany face a number of import restrictions. In addition to considerable tariffs that vary by product, imports of selected produce (tomatoes, cucumber, artichokes, zucchini squash, citrus, table grapes, apples, pears, apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums) are subject to an entry price system. Under such a system, imports that have a price at or above the respective entry price are assessed only the appropriate ad valorem duty. Imports, which have a price below, but within a certain range of the entry price, are assessed the ad valorem duty plus a specific duty that is the difference between the import price and the entry price. “Within a certain range” generally means within eight percent of the entry price. Imports having a price more than 8% below the entry price are assessed the ad valorem duty plus a very large specific duty (known as the tariff equivalent) which generally takes the cost of the product (import price plus duties) far above the entry price.

Organic Products: The US-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement took effect on June 1, 2012. The U.S. and EU have recognized each other’s organic production rules and control systems as equivalent under their respective rules. Organic products certified to the USDA organic standards may be sold and labeled as organic in the EU. Both the USDA organic seal and the EU organic logo may be used on products traded under this Arrangement. When using the EU organic logo, exporters must meet all the EU labeling requirements.

Consumer-Ready Products: Imports of consumer-ready food products into Germany face many market access restrictions and very strict food laws. In addition to bound import duties, the EU has established a complex system of border protection measures for food products. Depending on the world market situation for basic agricultural commodities, such as dairy products, sugar and cereals, the EU mechanism of flexible tariffs may require variable import duties to protect European consumer-ready food products from imports made with lower-price inputs. Therefore, at many times processed products entering the EU are subject to additional import charges based on the percentage of sugar, milk fat, milk protein, and starch contained in the product. These additional import charges have made many imported processed food products non-competitive in the EU market. Reports on the German retail and gastronomy sectors are available under “attaché reports” at http://www.fas.usda.gov/scriptsw/attacherep/default.asp.

U.S. Agricultural Commodity Associations Active in Germany
A number of U.S. agricultural commodity and other trade associations conduct market development programs in Germany. In some cases, these associations maintain field offices in Germany, while others may have a trade representative or public relations company representing their interests. Others may cover Germany from elsewhere in Europe or from offices in the United States. The USDA-operated Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development program (FMD) provides a portion of the funding for the market development programs of these associations. For further information about the MAP and FMD program or to know more about which associations are active in Germany, please contact the Office of Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin (http://germany.usembassy.gov/fas/).

Customs Regulations and Contact Information

The following provides information on the major regulatory efforts of the EC Taxation and Customs Union Directorate:

Electronic Customs Initiative – This initiative deals with EU Customs modernization developments to improve and facilitate trade in the EU member states. The electronic customs initiative is based on the following three pieces of legislation:

  • The Security and Safety Amendment to the Customs Code, which provides for full computerization of all procedures related to security and safety;
  • The Decision on the paperless environment for customs and trade (Electronic Customs Decision) which sets the basic framework and major deadlines for the electronic customs projects;
  • The Modernized Community Customs Code which provides for the completion of the computerization of customs.

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/policy_issues/electronic_customs_initiative/electronic_customs_legislation/index_en.htm

Homepage of Customs and Taxation Union Directorate (TAXUD) Website

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/index_en.htm

Customs Valuation – Most customs duties and value added tax (VAT) are expressed as a percentage of the value of goods being declared for importation. Thus, it is necessary to dispose of a standard set of rules for establishing the goods' value, which will then serve for calculating the customs duty.

The EU imports in excess of 2 trillion euro worth of goods. It is important that the value of such commerce is accurately measured for the purposes of:

  • economic and commercial policy analysis;
  • application of commercial policy measures;
  • proper collection of import duties and taxes; and
  • import and export statistics.

These objectives are met using a single instrument - the rules on customs value.

The EU applies an internationally accepted concept of ‘customs value’.

The value of imported goods is one of the three 'elements of taxation' that provides the basis for assessment of the customs debt, which is the technical term for the amount of duty that has to be paid, the other ones being the origin of the goods and the customs tariff.

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/customs_duties/declared_goods/index_en.htm

The website of the German Customs Authorities is: www.zoll.de



Products tested and certified in the United States to American standards are likely to have to be retested and re-certified to EU requirements as a result of the EU’s different approach to the protection of the health and safety of consumers and the environment. Where products are not regulated by specific EU technical legislation, they are always subject to the EU’s General Product Safety Directive as well as to possible additional national requirements.

European Union standards created under the New Approach are harmonized across the 27 EU Member States and European Economic Area countries to allow for the free flow of goods. A feature of the New Approach is CE marking. While harmonization of EU legislation can facilitate access to the EU Single Market, manufacturers should be aware that regulations and technical standards might also function as barriers to trade if U.S. standards are different from those of the European Union.

Most manufacturers believe the EU’s attempt to harmonize the various product safety requirements and related standards for industrial products of its member states has generally helped open member state markets. It did not, however, eliminate entirely voluntary national requirements, a fact which complicates the issue. Theoretically, during a transition period, national requirements must be met. (After the transition period, the EU "CE" mark supersedes all other compliance certificates, provided the products in question are covered by an EU directive.) The EU's efforts to harmonize standards through the "New Approach" certification-facilitating directives (and separately developed European standards) are incomplete as far as sectors covered. In some cases, U.S. firms (for example, in the automotive or pharmaceutical sectors) will have to worry about complying with the specific requirements of all applicable "Old Approach" product-specific EU technical legislation.

This is doubly important because, to the extent EU-wide standards are developed, there is a high probability that the existing German standard will form the basis for the eventual European standard. In many cases, Germany will also be the first member country to implement EU-wide standards. The implementation of electromagnetic compatibility standards (EMC), despite a five-year phase-in period, surprised many affected companies - not only foreign, but also German.

German buyers may require additional performance or quality marks, which are not necessarily legally required, but which greatly enhance a product's chances of being marketed. Both EU requirements and the standards for a German quality or performance mark will, in many cases, require modifications for an imported product. Even if the product does not require modification, it may still need testing and certification before it can be marketed.
Two non-mandatory marks which may still be critical to successfully marketing products in Germany are the "geprüfte Sicherheit" (GS) mark, for mechanical products, and the "Verband Deutscher Elektrotechniker" (VDE) mark for electrical components.
Neither the "GS" nor the "VDE" mark are mandatory for most products sold in Germany except for products for use in certain work place applications, where these marks are required to meet insurance requirements. However, many German consumers look for these marks as an additional sign of quality, similar to the UL mark in the U.S., regardless of legal requirement

EU standards setting is a process based on consensus initiated by industry or mandated by the European Commission and carried out by independent standards bodies, acting at the national, European or international level. There is strong encouragement for non-governmental organizations, such as environmental and consumer groups, to actively participate in European standardization.

Standards Organizations

Many standards in the EU are adopted from international standards bodies such as the International Standards Organization (ISO). The drafting of specific EU standards is handled by three European standards organizations:

1. CENELEC, European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization

(http://www.cenelec.eu/ )

2. ETSI, European Telecommunications Standards Institute (http://www.etsi.org/)

3. CEN, European Committee for Standardization, handling all other standards


Standards are created or modified by experts in Technical Committees or Working Groups. The members of CEN and CENELEC are the national standards bodies of the member states, which have "mirror committees" that monitor and participate in ongoing European standardization. CEN and CENELEC standards are sold by the individual member states standards bodies. ETSI is different in that it allows direct participation in its technical committees from non-EU companies that have interests in Europe and gives away some of its individual standards at no charge on its website. In addition to the three standards developing organizations, the European Commission plays an important role in standardization through its funding of the participation in the standardization process of small- and medium-sized companies and non-governmental organizations, such as environmental and consumer groups. The Commission also provides money to the standards bodies when it mandates standards development to the European Standards Organization for harmonized standards that will be linked to EU technical legislation. Mandates – or requests for standards - can be checked on line at: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/european-standards/standardisation-requests/index_en.htm

Given the EU’s vigorous promotion of its regulatory and standards system as well as its generous funding for its development, the EU’s standards regime is wide and deep - extending well beyond the EU’s political borders to include affiliate members (countries which are hopeful of becoming full members in the future) such as Albania, Belarus, Israel, and Morocco among others. Another category, called "partner standardization body" includes the standards organization of Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Australia, which are not likely to become a CEN member or affiliate for political and geographical reasons.

To know what CEN and CENELEC have in the pipeline for future standardization, it is best to visit their websites. Other than their respective annual work plans, CEN’s "sectors" page provides an overview by sector and/or technical committee whereas CENELEC offers the possibility to search its database. ETSI’s portal (http://portal.etsi.org) leads to ongoing activities.

With the need to adapt more quickly to market needs, European standards organizations have been looking for "new deliverables" which are standard-like products delivered in a shorter timeframe. While few of these "new deliverables" have been linked to EU legislation, expectations are that they will eventually serve as the basis for EU-wide standards.

Key Link: http://www.cen.eu/CEN/products/cwa/

The European Standardization system and strategy was reviewed in 2011 and 2012. The new standards regulation, adopted in November 2012, clarifies the relationship between regulations and standards and confirms the role of the three European standards bodies in developing EN harmonized standards. The emphasis is also on referencing international standards where possible. For information, communication and technology (ICT) products, the importance of interoperability standards has been recognized. Through a newly established mechanism, a “Platform Committee” reporting to the European Commission will decide which deliverables from fora and consortia might be acceptable for public procurement specifications. The European standards bodies have been encouraged to improve efficiency in terms of delivery and to look for ways to include more societal stakeholders in European standardization.

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/european-standards/standardisation-policy/index_en.htm

Standards are created or modified by experts in Technical Committees or Working Groups. The members of CEN and CENELEC are the national standards bodies of the Member States, which have "mirror committees" that monitor and participate in ongoing European standardization. The German organization that compiles standards is the Deutscher Industrie Normenausschuss - DIN (German Standards Institute, www.din.de). The DIN also compiles the standards that lay down the requirements for a "GS" mark. Since 1975, DIN has been recognized by the German government as the national standards body and represents Germany’s interests at the international and EU levels. DIN offers a forum in which interested parties meet in order to discuss and define their specific standardization requirements and to record the results as German Standards. In DIN, standard work is carried out by some 26,000 external experts, serving as voluntary delegates in more than 4,000 committees. Draft standards are published for public comment, and all comments are reviewed before final publication of the standard. Published standards are reviewed for continuing relevance at least every five years. According to DIN, standards are designed to promote rationalization, quality assurance, safety, and environmental protection, as well as improving communication between industry, technology, science, government, and the public domain. The input of external experts into standardization is organized through standards committees and working groups. Each standards committee is responsible for a distinct area of activity and coordinates the corresponding standardization work at the EU and international levels. As a rule, the standards committee in DIN includes a number of technical sub-committees. There are currently 76 standards committees that maintain their own websites. Basic details of their area of activity and a list of the standards are published in English. Links to these committees are available on the DIN website

NIST Notify U.S. Service
Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets. Register online at Internet URL: http://www.nist.gov/notifyus/

Conformity Assessment

Conformity Assessment is a mandatory step for the manufacturer in the process of complying with specific EU legislation. The purpose of conformity assessment is to ensure consistency of compliance during all stages, from design to production, to facilitate acceptance of the final product. EU product legislation gives manufacturers some choice regarding conformity assessment, depending on the level of risk involved in the use of their product. These range from self-certification, type examination and production quality control system, to full quality assurance system. Conformity assessment bodies in individual member states are listed in NANDO, the European Commission’s website.

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newapproach/nando/

To promote market acceptance of the final product, there are a number of voluntary conformity assessment programs. CEN’s certification systems are the Keymark, the CENCER mark, and CEN workshop agreements (CWA) Certification Rules. CENELEC has its own initiative. ETSI does not offer conformity assessment services.

Product Certification

To sell products in the EU market as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, U.S. exporters are required to apply CE marking whenever their product is covered by specific product legislation. CE marking product legislation offers manufacturers a number of choices and requires decisions to determine which safety/health concerns need to be addressed, which conformity assessment module is best suited to the manufacturing process, and whether or not to use EU-wide harmonized standards. There is no easy way for U.S. exporters to understand and go through the process of CE marking, but hopefully this section provides some background and clarification.

Products manufactured to standards adopted by CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, and referenced in the Official Journal as harmonized standards, are presumed to conform to the requirements of EU Directives. The manufacturer then applies the CE marking and issues a declaration of conformity. With these, the product will be allowed to circulate freely within the EU. A manufacturer can choose not to use the harmonized EU standards, but then must demonstrate that the product meets the essential safety and performance requirements. Trade barriers occur when design, rather than performance, standards are developed by the relevant European standardization organization, and when U.S. companies do not have access to the standardization process through a European presence.

The CE marking addresses itself primarily to the national control authorities of the member states, and its use simplifies the task of essential market surveillance of regulated products. As market surveillance was found lacking, the EU adopted the New Legislative Framework, which went into force in 2010. As mentioned before, this framework is like a blueprint for all CE marking legislation, harmonizing definitions, responsibilities, European accreditation and market surveillance.

The CE marking is not intended to include detailed technical information on the product, but there must be enough information to enable the inspector to trace the product back to the manufacturer or the local contact established in the EU. This detailed information should not appear next to the CE marking, but rather on the declaration of conformity (which the manufacturer or authorized agent must be able to provide at any time, together with the product's technical file), or the documents accompanying the product.


Independent test and certification laboratories, known as notified bodies, have been officially accredited by competent national authorities to test and certify to EU requirements.

"European Accreditation" (http://www.european-accreditation.org) is an organization representing nationally recognized accreditation bodies. Membership is open to nationally recognized accreditation bodies in countries in the European geographical area that can demonstrate that they operate an accreditation system compatible with EN45003 or ISO/IEC Guide 58.

The German Accreditation Council (DAR) is a working group established in 1991 by ministries of the German Federal Government, ministries of the German federal states, and by representatives of the German industry.

The DAR coordinates the activities in the field of accreditation and recognition of laboratories, certification, and inspection bodies as far as they are represented in the DAR; it represents German interests in national, European and international organizations dealing with general issues of accreditation and recognition, including voluntary and mandatory (KOGB) areas. The DAR itself does not carry out any accreditations or recognitions.

All accreditation bodies represented in the DAR are operating on the basis of the EN 45000/EN ISO/IEC 17000 standard series and the DAR resolutions. With permission of the DAR, they may therefore use DAR certificates for accreditation.

Publication of Technical Regulations

The Official Journal is the official publication of the European Union. It is published daily on the internet and consists of two series covering adopted legislation as well as case law, studies by committees, and more (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOIndex.do?ihmlang=en). It lists the standards reference numbers linked to legislation (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/european-standards/harmonised-standards/index_en.htm ).

National technical Regulations are published on the Commission’s website http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/tris/index_en.htm to allow other countries and interested parties to comment.

Technical regulations are published by the publishing house of DIN, Beuth Verlag: www.beuth.de

Labeling and Marking

Manufacturers should be mindful that, in addition to the EU’s mandatory and voluntary schemes, national voluntary labeling schemes might still apply. These schemes may be highly appreciated by consumers, and thus, become unavoidable for marketing purposes.

Manufacturers are advised to take note that all labels require metric units although dual labeling is also acceptable. The use of language on labels has been the subject of a Commission Communication, which encourages multilingual information, while preserving the right of member states to require the use of the language of the country of consumption.

The EU has mandated that certain products be sold in standardized quantities. Council Directive 2007/45/EC harmonizes packaging of wine and spirits throughout the EU. Existing national sizes will be abolished with a few exceptions for domestic producers.

Key Link: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/legal-metrology-and-prepack/prepacked-products/index_en.htm

The Eco-label

The EU eco-label is a voluntary label which U.S. exporters can display on products that meet high standards of environmental awareness. The eco-label is intended to be a marketing tool to encourage consumers to purchase environmentally-friendly products. The criteria for displaying the eco-label are strict, covering the entire lifespan of the product from its manufacture, use, and disposal. These criteria are reviewed every three to five years to take into account advances in manufacturing procedures. There are currently 30 different product groups, and approximately 1300 licenses have been awarded for several hundred products.

Applications to display the eco-label should be directed to the competency body of the member state in which the product is sold. The application fee will be somewhere between €300 and €1300 depending on the tests required to verify if the product is eligible. The eco-label also carries an annual fee equal to 0.15% of the annual volume of sales of the product range within the European community. However, the minimum annual fee is currently set at €500 and maximum €25,000.

There are plans to significantly reform the eco-label in the near future, reducing the application and annual fees and expanding the product ranges significantly. It is also possible that future eligibility criteria may take into account carbon emissions.

Key Links:

Eco-label Home Page

Trade Agreements

For a list of trade agreements with the EU and its member states, as well as concise explanations, please see http://tcc.export.gov/Trade_Agreements/index.asp

Web Resources

1. Product legislation:


2. CE Marking:


3. European standards:


4. EU Notified bodies:

5. Test laboratories:

6. Deutscher Akkreditierungsrat (DAR- German Accreditation Council):

7. TÜV:

8. Other Sources:
 – (Federal Environment Ministry)

BMWi – (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology)

DIN – (German Standards Institute)

NIST – National Institute of Standards and Technology

UL - Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

VDE – Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik
(Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies.)

VDMA - Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V.
(German Engineering Federation)

ZLG – Zentralstelle der Länder für Gesundheitsschule bei Arzneimitteln und Medizinprodukten
(Central Authority of the Federal States for Health Protection regarding Medicinal products and Medical Equipment)

ZVEI - Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e.V.
(Central Federation for the German Electrical and Electronics Industry)