Germany has passed a law called the Verpackungsgesetz, which aims to eliminate waste by requiring certain packaging materials to be recycled by law. Examples of packaging materials that qualify under this act include cardboard, glass, aluminum, plastic, natural materials, cardboard composite materials, and more.
Though this law is a few years old, it becomes mandatory for all packages sent through “commercial activity” to Germany beginning in July 2022. In view of this deadline, there are steps you can take before then to ensure you’re in compliance when the time comes.
What is Verpackungsgesetz (German Packaging Act)?
Verpackungsgesetz is a packaging law in Germany which becomes applicable to all producers of packaging materials in July of 2022. “Producers” is a defined term under the law, and includes all importers and online merchants sending packages to Germany from any country, including the U.S.
If you don’t fulfill the obligations under this act, Germany may stop your shipments from entering its borders altogether...and, in the worst case scenario, you may also be subject to written warning letters or heavy fines (up to €200,000 and a prohibition on sales) 😅
What you need to do
As a “producer” or online retailer sending packages to Germany, you are responsible for:
Paying money to Germany for the recycling of your packaging materials
Using the LUCID Packaging Register run by the Central Agency Packaging Register (ZSVR) to report how much packaging materials you place on the German market each time you send a package to Germany
You can take care of this yourself every time you send a package to Germany, or you can appoint an authorized representative to act on your behalf when you register with the LUCID Packaging Register (this is what we recommend, since it lifts the responsibility off of your business and onto your representative).
Option 1: Register with the LUCID Packaging Register as a "producer"
To comply with the new German packaging laws, option 1 is to register with the LUCID Packaging Register, which is completely free. You can either register as a “producer” yourself (and assume all the responsibilities of complying with Verpackungsgesetz) or find an authorized representative during the registration process, which we've laid out in Option 2.
Option 2: Register with the LUCID Packaging Register and appoint an authorized representative
When you register with the LUCID Packaging Register, you can also elect to appoint an authorized representative to act on your behalf and make sure you’re in compliance with the guidelines of Verpackungsgesetz 👍
For your representative to use the LUCID Packaging Register, you need to appoint them through that website, and you can only appoint one. When you do so, you'll then be required to sign a contract which assigns your representative all responsibility for complying with all guidelines set forth in Verpackungsgesetz. This includes reporting all the necessary information through the LUCID Packaging Register each time you send a package to Germany.
You can watch a step-by-step video of how to find and appoint an authorized representative here.
What if I sell on a marketplace like Etsy or eBay?
If you use a marketplace such as Etsy or eBay to reach your customers, you’re still required to comply with the guidelines. You'll need to follow the same process as outlined above; you can either register as a producer, or appoint an authorized representative to act on your behalf during the registration process.
The law applies to all packages sent with “commercial activity”
The German packaging laws apply to any and all shipments sent under the basis of “commercial activity,” whether you’re sending one package or hundreds. Packages that aren't sent through commercial activity such as gifts or donations don’t need to follow the guidelines set forth in Verpackungsgesetz 😉
Unlike other VAT laws for packages going to the European Union, there is no de minimis threshold under Verpackungsgesetz. That means you need to comply with the German packaging laws no matter the value of the item or number of items you’re sending for any commercial packages.
Need some help?
For an easy-to-understand explanation of the law and how to comply, this video on the Verpackungsgesetz website is an informative watch.
On top of that video, the instructional papers, videos and FAQs on the German website (https://www.verpackungsregister.org) provide a lot of information for registration and some guidance for partnering with authorized representatives in Germany. We can provide some help, but not legal guidance under German law. So, if you have some threshold questions or want some more clarification, click the blue chat button to get in touch with our Support Crew - we’re happy to lend a hook any way we can 😃
You can also direct more specific questions to: email@example.com.