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German regulations on the import of food
Guidelines with important contacts and links
There are a number of national and EU regulations that apply regarding the import of food to Germany.
- Guidance document by the European Commission
- Specific enquiries regarding food legislation
- Foods of animal origin from third countries in personal travellers' luggage
- Importation of foods of animal origin from third countries for exhibitions and fairs in Germany
- Information by the European Commission
- Further information
Guidance document by the European Commission
The importer must comply with these regulations as well; the importer is the first link in the domestic sales chain and consequently responsible for the marketability of the imported products.
The European Commission has published the following guidance document which refers to key Community law requirements: "Guidance document – Key questions related to import requirements and the new rules on food hygiene and official food controls".
Specific enquiries regarding food legislation
The responsibility for enforcing food law provisions in Germany lies with the federal states (Länder). The question of whether a specific product complies with the legal requirements must be evaluated by considering the actual product in its entirety, taking into account its origin, import certificate,composition, intended purpose and presentation.
For clarification on questions concerning the interpretation and application of legal provisions in individual cases, information can be obtained from the following sources: You can:
- contact the stakeholder association responsible for your sector, if you are a member.
- commission a food expert to, for example, evaluate a product's compliance with the relevant legislation. You can find out the addresses of experts from the chamber of industry and commerce (IHK) that is competent for your area. The German nationwide register of IHK experts contains information on experts who have been officially appointed and attested by chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of agriculture or federal state governments. The addresses for enquiries with your local chamber of industry and commerce can be found at www.dihk.de/ihk-finder.
- get in touch with the competent local food inspection authority. The competent authority is the authority at the location of the food business/importer in Germany. Please contact the Ministries of the Länder to find out the addresses of the respective authorities. You can obtain their internet addresses from the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety.
The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is not able to provide legal advice on individual cases.
Foods of animal origin from third countries in personal travellers' luggage
Products of animal origin
In order to prevent the introduction of animal epidemics, it is prohibited to bring meat, milk and products derived therefrom into the European Union from non-EU countries pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 206/2009 (personal travellers' luggage). The ban does not apply to the import of certain products of animal origin in small amounts and under certain circumstances. This includes infant food and special foods required for medical reasons, special pet feed required for medical reasons, other animal products (such as honey) up to 2 kg per person, fish/fish products up to 20 kg or the weight of one fish (whichever weight is the highest) per person. Some foods that only contain a very small share of processed foods of animal origin and hardly pose any risk to human health such as bread, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, may be introduced without any quantitative restrictions as picnic food for travellers.
Importation of foods of animal origin from third countries for exhibitions and fairs in Germany
The following factsheets drawn up in German, English and Russian explain in detail the legal situation regarding import requirements and the import control procedure for foods of animal origin from third countries that are commercial samples for exhibitions and trade fairs in Germany. In particular it explains the non-admissibility of tastings of foods of animal origin from third countries that are not compliant with EU rules:
Information by the European Commission
The European Commission has published the following websites which provide information on key EU legislation and guidance documents regarding import requirements (guidance documents in English). They also describe the import procedure in detail:
1. Food Safety – From the Farm to the Fork
o European Commission: Import requirements
o European Commission: Veterinary border controls
o European Commission: Veterinary border controls - FAQ
o European Commission: Import requirements for products from third countries
2. Contact information of the EU veterinary border inspection posts that have to be used for the imports: click here.
Should you have any further questions regarding customs legislation, you are recommended to contact the Zollinfo-Center (customs information centre).
A licence may be required for trade in agricultural products between the European Community and third countries; this basically depends on the product concerned (although for some products there are allowances up to a certain quantity). For further information, please follow the link to the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE - Federal Office of Agriculture and Food), Deichmanns Aue 29, 53179 Bonn, phone: 00 49 / 22 8 - 68 45 - 0, fax: 00 49 - 22 8 - 68 45 - 34 44, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the above information may not be exhaustive. Depending on the product, country of origin etc, you may need to obtain additional information and/or apply to other authorities.
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