Exporting guide to Germany

Overview

Germany is one of the world’s largest economies and a highly industrialised, diverse and stable market. It offers long-term potential and many opportunities for UK businesses offering innovative, quality products.

Trade statistics

£50.0 billion total UK exports to Germany for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

2nd largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

7.2% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

Digital industry and economy

The digitisation of Germany’s industry and economy will impact on all sectors and enhance opportunities associated with business models, manufacturing processes, digital marketplaces, future mobility and supply chains. There is demand in areas of UK strength such as food and drink, consumer goods, big data, artificial intelligence, cyber security and the internet of things.

Strong economic framework

Germany offers competitive tax regulations, investment incentives and a secure, highly developed political and economic framework. This is supported by an excellent infrastructure, a highly qualified workforce and a legal system that protects property and individual rights. Germany also host some of the largest international trade shows, where companies have access to German and international buyers.

Top five UK goods exported to Germany, in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

Goods Value (£billion)
Aircraft 2.5
Non-ferrous metals 2.2
Medicinal & pharmaceutical products 2.2
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 2.1
Crude oil 1.9

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: November 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Germany.

Top five UK services exported to Germany, in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

Service Value (£billion)
Other Business Services 8.6
Financial 2.8
Telecommunications, computer and information services 2.2
Intellectual property 2.0
Transportation 1.5

Source: ONS UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Germany.

Germany: at a glance

Economic growth

2.6%

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is 7.4% (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

GDP per capita

$51,238

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is $47,329 (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

Currency

Euro

Business languages

German

You may need a translator

Time zone

GMT +1

Want to see more on Germany? Sign up for additional market data, content specific to your product or sector and to compare Germany side by side with other markets.

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Germany have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Germany

Preparing to export

VAT

The standard rate of VAT in Germany is 19%. Convenience goods and day-to-day services are charged at 7%. Some services including banking, healthcare and non-profit work are VAT exempt.

Packaging and labelling

Packaging has a strong influence on German consumers and informs how they choose products. It is important to check that your packaging is to German tastes. Please also see the German Packaging Act for guidance.

EU standards apply to packaging. For more information see the 'Check how to export goods' guidance.

Labelling should be translated into German. Certain products, such as food and textiles, have specific labelling requirements.

Payment terms

Standard payment terms for business-to-business transactions are 60 days and 30 days for public authorities. You can claim late payment interest when terms are not met.

Services regulations

Information on rules for selling services and business travel to Germany is available on gov.uk

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Germany.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Germany

Routes to market

In a stable and secure market, there's a wide range of routes to market.

Options which may work well for you are:

  • agents and distributors

Using local agents or distributors is an effective way to develop a presence in Germany due to the size of the market. German is the language of business and fluency is a major advantage for your company when using local partners.

  • direct sales

Due to the relative closeness of the market, direct sales are possible. However, the need for German language skills should be considered. Ensuring full coverage of the whole market could be a challenge.

  • e-commerce

Selling online or through e-marketplaces may be a good option for your company. It’s relatively cheap and easy to deliver products into Germany. DIT can suggest online marketplaces to help you get started. DIT’s E-Exporting Programme can also help.

The British Chamber of Commerce in Germany is a useful source of further information on routes to market in Germany.

You can find more useful information on the Germany Trade and Invest and
German-British Chamber of Industry & Commerce websites.

Business culture

German firms are often family-owned and take a longer-term view. They value personal relationships highly.

Often businesses will not necessarily go for best price, but for long-term shared vision or relationship.

Business people will be well prepared for meetings, and will have carefully researched your products and services.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.