The Bundeszollverwaltung (Federal Customs Service) is an executive and fiscal administrative unit of the German government and part of the Federal Ministry of Finance. It was founded in 1949 in West Germany. The purpose of the Customs Service is to administer federal taxes, execute demands for payment on behalf of the federal government and federal statutory corporation
Statutory Corporation
A statutory corporation or public body is a corporation created by statute. While artificial legal personality is almost always the result of statutory intervention, a statutory corporation does not include corporations owned by shareholders whose legal personality derives from being registered...

s, monitor the cross border movements of goods with regard to compliance with bans and restrictions, and prevent illicit work
Illicit work
Illicit work is an illegal employment. The working contract is made without social security costs and without paying income taxes. Illicit work is part of the informal economy or so called "shadow economy".-External links:*...



The Customs Service, as part of the Finanzverwaltung (fiscal administration), ensures the flow of revenue from federal taxes (excise taxes — Branntwein taxes, electricity taxes, tobacco taxes, energy taxes, etc., including the beer tax, the revenues from which go to the German states), as well as revenues of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (75 % of all tariff income goes to the EU, 25 % are retained to cover expenses and go to the federal government).

The Customs Service is responsible for monitoring the importing, transit and exporting of goods and monitors compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Its core duties include the prevention of the illegal import or export of weapons, drugs and other dangerous substances, as well as other forbidden items.

Enforcement agency

The Customs Service's enforcement duties include monitoring the movement of goods into, through and out of the EU with respect to customs law, border police work, general police work in road traffic, protection of the German continental shelf in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea (more precisely, monitoring of underwater mining and exploration rights) as well as the fight against illicit work and money laundering. The Maritime Customs Service together with other agencies makes up the German Federal Coast Guard
German Federal Coast Guard
The German Federal Coast Guard is a civilian law enforcement organisation whose primary missions are border protection, maritime environmental protection, shipping safety, fishery protection and customs enforcement...

. The enforcement elements of the Customs Service in many areas cooperate strongly with the police forces of the German states and the federal police. They are law enforcement agencies and are also used to combat terrorism.

Execution agency

The Federal Customs Service executes demands for payment by the federal government and federal legal persons under public law such as, for example, the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (the government employment agency). The civil servants in question have the right, just like bailiffs, to impound items and real estate, and to dispose of these.


Auctions regularly take place at offices of the Customs Service that are responsible for a certain category of objects. Items are auctioned off that have been impounded or that have been designated for disposal by agencies. Apart from the Customs Service, other agencies and administrations also use this service for auctioning off items. Some objects are excepted from these auctions, namely impounded goods such as:
  • Cigarettes and other tobacco products, as these can only be put on the market if they comply with the provisions of the "Tobacco Taxation Law"
  • Weapons – If these are of the sort that may be legally sold to those in possession of a permit (and are not classed as military weapons), they will be disposed of directly through the procurement office of the Customs Service in Offenbach am Main.
  • Narcotics (drugs)
  • Animals and plants; if these are classed as endangered, or threatened by extinction, they fall under the protection of CITES. Dead animals and plants may be left to public institutions for educational and exhibitional purposes, on demand (e.g. schools, museums, universities); living ones are transferred to zoological or botanical institutions.
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