All member states of the European Union (EU), including Germany, form a customs territory (the European Customs Union) in which unified customs arrangements apply. Goods imported into the EU are subject to EU-wide import regulations, customs tariffs and customs procedures.
This means that customs duties are only levied when the goods are imported into the EU. No further customs duties must be paid within the customs territory once goods have been imported into the EU - even in cases where the goods cross internal borders of member states.
A new European Union Customs Code (UCC) has been legally effective across all EU member states as of May 1, 2016. It is complemented by implementing and delegated acts. The UCC replaces the European Community Customs Code (CC) of 1992. Transitional provisions (e.g. regarding IT procedures) exist in some instances - these will be effective until December 31, 2020.
The European Customs Union in Practice
A German product may be shipped to Hungary without paying any duty and without any customs control.
Conversely, a Japanese product imported into the European Customs Union is subject to customs duties only when and where it first enters the EU, for example, Germany.
Subsequent to entry and initial customs clearance, no further customs procedures and duties are necessary. The product can circulate freely within the European single market.
Through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein also comply with most European Community regulations. The EU has also concluded customs unions with Andorra, San Marino and Turkey. Trade agreements allowing the duty-free import of certain goods or preferential tariff import agreements exist with many other countries.
Please visit the EU-website for an overview of existing free trade agreements between the EU and third countries.