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EU - Import of products

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seomatic

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Jan 24, 2011
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Hey fastlaners,

I am working on my private label and plan to import products from china and was wondering which legal hurdles there are to import the products into EU zone? Any good guide, website or consultant? I wouldn't mind to pay for good advice. The official EU website is just horrible and not helpful at all.

From the trademark side I've seen there is the opportunity to register eu wide trademark, this should cover you right?
 

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c4n

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It's been a while since my last registration, but as far as I remember about half a year?

What takes time is that they send a notice of your registration application (via regular mail) to all similar trademark owners found giving them a chance to object your registration.

For example if you try to register WIDGETS and someone already owns WIDGET, they will be notified about your application and they can submit an objection.
 

seomatic

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Jan 24, 2011
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It's been a while since my last registration, but as far as I remember about half a year?

What takes time is that they send a notice of your registration application (via regular mail) to all similar trademark owners found giving them a chance to object your registration.

For example if you try to register WIDGETS and someone already owns WIDGET, they will be notified about your application and they can submit an objection.

OMG. Does it even makes sense to promote a product without having the trademark? I don't want to wait for half a year or longer ... I don't understand why everything the EU does is so super slow and bad service. They have millions and nothing works.
 

c4n

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Just checked; my last EU trademark registration took 3 months and 19 days. My last US trademark took 6 months and 15 days.

What happens before your trademark is registered varies by country, some even recognize unregistered "common law" trademarks. If your goal is to build a recognizable brand it will probably take much longer than the trademark registration.
 

seomatic

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Jan 24, 2011
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Just checked; my last EU trademark registration took 3 months and 19 days. My last US trademark took 6 months and 15 days.

What happens before your trademark is registered varies by country, some even recognize unregistered "common law" trademarks. If your goal is to build a recognizable brand it will probably take much longer than the trademark registration.

I just checked there are no similar trade marks registered. Hopefully it goes faster :)
How much is US trademark?
 

Walter Hay

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Hey fastlaners,

I am working on my private label and plan to import products from china and was wondering which legal hurdles there are to import the products into EU zone? Any good guide, website or consultant? I wouldn't mind to pay for good advice. The official EU website is just horrible and not helpful at all.

From the trademark side I've seen there is the opportunity to register eu wide trademark, this should cover you right?
It seems that this is your first attempt at importing so you have a lot to learn. I suggest you read at least the last 20 or 30 posts in my AMA thread:
GOLD! Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist.

Meanwhile, let me ease your mind a little.
1. The first thing you will need to do is register for VAT. You might think it is not necessary because you haven't reached the threshold but you will have to pay VAT on your imports sooner or later so you will need registration.
2. Don't try to learn all the rules and regulations yourself. Handling the Customs clearance process yourself would be a nightmare. My recommendations will mostly depend on the size of your shipments. If the order is small it is usually cost effective to have it shipped via air courier, and they will handle the clearance for you.
If it is large enough to travel by sea or rail transport, you should use a freight forwarder in Germany. See my AMA for information on getting quotes.
3. If using an air courier, be sure to get your supplier in China to quote for prepaid door to door service. DO NOT give your supplier your courier account number. They will ship on a freight collect basis and that will cost you an arm and a leg.
4. Don't place an order until you know all of your costs, particularly for freight.
5. Don't even think about using Alibaba's logistics also known as Alibaba.com Freight.
6. If your supplier offers to use a low cost Chinese freight forwarder - DON'T.
7. You should do a trademark search before starting the process of registering. You can check out European trademarks here: https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/welcome
4. The most serious legal hurdles you might face will most likly relate to labeling. There is no doubt as you say: "everything the EU does is so super slow and bad service." Forunately the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce has come to your aid and you should find the help you need about meeting EU labeling laws here: European Union - Labeling/Marking Requirements (part 1) | Privacy Shield

If you have more questions, please ask them on my AMA and I will help.

Walter
 

Blek

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Jun 15, 2018
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Hey fastlaners,

I am working on my private label and plan to import products from china and was wondering which legal hurdles there are to import the products into EU zone? Any good guide, website or consultant? I wouldn't mind to pay for good advice. The official EU website is just horrible and not helpful at all.

From the trademark side I've seen there is the opportunity to register eu wide trademark, this should cover you right?
I don't know which country you want it import to, there are common regulations for EU, but every country is treating it their way.
Much easier to import (from China, as I was importing) to GB and Czech, much worse to Poland (in final I was importing good by GB, and my competitor through Czech, so I know).
For sure talk to customs and have "individual confirmation" (i can check how it's named eventually) for tariffs and taxes - it tooks about 3 weeks and works for couple years. For one mistake (wrong code given) I was 3 weeks and some thousands euro lost .
If You have specific questions (toys and sports equipment I was importing for about 5 years) PM me.
 

seomatic

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Jan 24, 2011
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I just checked out other brands and noticed some haven't even registered a trademark. Is it possible to register their brands and then sue them? or sell products with their brand? lol
 

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Black_Dragon43

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Hey fastlaners,

I am working on my private label and plan to import products from china and was wondering which legal hurdles there are to import the products into EU zone? Any good guide, website or consultant? I wouldn't mind to pay for good advice. The official EU website is just horrible and not helpful at all.

From the trademark side I've seen there is the opportunity to register eu wide trademark, this should cover you right?
It depends how you want to set up your business. You can secure a warehouse or fulfilment center in Turkey for cheap, and you'll be just outside the EU. Which means no EU import fees/customs, unless you sell your stock first. And then you still have another choice. If goods go directly from the warehouse to your customer, you can have them be responsible for import fees & customs (just as if you dropshipped from outside EU - as they would be the importer of record) - this isn't necessarily a problem if you communicate it well on your website. If not, then you can pay the import fees on their behalf and have a customs agent take care of it for you.

As for registrations - yes, you need VAT registrations as @Walter Hay says, you also need to register to get an EORI number - Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number. This is necessary to be able to pass customs.

Is it possible to register their brands and then sue them? or sell products with their brand? lol
No. Otherwise law firms would be doing this to extort money. A brand does not need to be registered to be protected. Trademarks are (sort of) BS -> for example, if I can prove in court that I was using the name before you registered it, then it is mine, not yours. Registration will not save you from that. Registration is just a way to make your brand "official", but not to grant it legal protection. Legal protection begins from when you start using it. Trademarks also extend the legal protection to more areas than just where you're selling/using it, but it's not necessary.

Same with writing a book - I don't need an ISBN number or to register the work. Legal protection begins from the moment that I have written it. If I can prove that I wrote it beforehand, then it doesn't matter if you publish it before me, or get an ISBN number, or get it registered, that can all be overturned. Intellectual property is a natural right that begins from conception.
 
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seomatic

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Jan 24, 2011
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Germany
It depends how you want to set up your business. You can secure a warehouse or fulfilment center in Turkey for cheap, and you'll be just outside the EU. Which means no EU import fees/customs, unless you sell your stock first. And then you still have another choice. If goods go directly from the warehouse to your customer, you can have them be responsible for import fees (just as if you dropshipped from outside EU - as they would be the importer of record) - this isn't necessarily a problem if you communicate it well on your website. If not, then you can pay the import fees on their behalf and have a customs agent take care of it for you.

As for registrations - yes, you need VAT registrations as @Walter Hay says, you also need to register to get an EORI number - Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number. This is necessary to be able to pass customs.


No. Otherwise law firms would be doing this to extort money. A brand does not need to be registered to be protected. Trademarks are (sort of) BS -> for example, if I can prove in court that I was using the name before you registered it, then it is mine, not yours. Registration will not save you from that. Registration is just a way to make your brand "official", but not to grant it legal protection. Legal protection begins from when you start using it. Trademarks also extend the legal protection to more areas than just where you're selling/using it, but it's not necessary.

Same with writing a book - I don't need an ISBN number or to register the work. Legal protection begins from the moment that I have written it. If I can prove that I wrote it beforehand, then it doesn't matter if you publish it before me, or get an ISBN number, or get it registered, that can all be overturned.

Hm I already have a VAT ID, just thinking if I should do it through my consulting business or setup a new company for trade? Have to research the EORI thing, too.

I prefer to use a service like Amazon FBA or similar for distribution since that's not really something were I can create much value, so better leave it for the pros. :D

About the lawsuits: In Germany we had a lot of law firms just making claims to extort money, for example in copyright law. Someone downloads a ripped movie or music and get's a EUR 800-2000 invoice from a lawyer. Or even someone using a protected image on website. Seems to be a terrific business model.
 

mon_fi

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Much easier to import (from China, as I was importing) to GB and Czech, much worse to Poland (in final I was importing good by GB, and my competitor through Czech, so I know).

That doesn't make sense since the EU allows for free movement of trade, goods, people and services. Could you elaborate a bit on why it was easier to import to Czech and why it is hard in Poland?
 

seomatic

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I'm also interested how the taxes work. Seems like each country has it's own VAT rate.

I this solution to pay VAT only in one country, but it seems limited to digital products:

Seems like they make importing so hard on purpose to keep the competition out.
 

Ing

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The trademark is important, but so is the domain!
If you have the de and com domain, than the trademark isn t so important. And noone can sell a good witha name without the domain.

Get the domains, make the Onlineantrag for the German zrademark! You now have 3 months time to pay the 300 fee. And can test a month or so.
First makes the Onlineantrag, will get the TM.

domain is in Seconds, TM either 3 months, or when with problems, longer.
 

Black_Dragon43

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Hm I already have a VAT ID, just thinking if I should do it through my consulting business or setup a new company for trade? Have to research the EORI thing, too.
I personally run my biz through multiple legal entities for taxation purposes, BUT, it is more expensive and complicated accounting wise. If you don't want to have a headache with accounting, and you will register and pay VAT (you can also get a VAT number without being a VAT paying company if you stay under a certain threshold (which varies by country)), then I'd keep it under one roof for sure, since there is little advantage to doing it otherwise.

Seems like they make importing so hard on purpose to keep the competition out.
Yeah, that is definitely true. Typically though, you can find people who will register you in all EU countries, so that you don't have to worry about it. Then your accountant takes care of the rest.

About the lawsuits: In Germany we had a lot of law firms just making claims to extort money, for example in copyright law. Someone downloads a ripped movie or music and get's a EUR 800-2000 invoice from a lawyer. Or even someone using a protected image on website. Seems to be a terrific business model.
Yeah, there are such companies. To be honest though, I don't find it such a good business model. You must be quite a dumb business owner to pay. Just tell them to sue you. They usually don't bother, because technically the chances of winning in court are nil if you just stop using whatever copyright material in question. Beyond that, they'd have to prove damages - good luck with that. So the business model relies on naivité and inexperience + intimidation and fear.

I've had people trying to intimidate me in business before. It has never worked, not even once. My usual reaction is "just go f yourself" and I block their channel of communication. I have had to intimidate clients before though who weren't paying, and I was successful because I had contracts to back me up + proof the work was done. So it can work, but you need to do it with people who have a personality where this kind of tactic works. There are some people who would rather die than give in to your demands, just because of psychological reactance - they hate feeling their freedom is taken away. So with them, very poor chances.
 

Kid

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About VAT:there were news few days ago that EU removed NO VAT option for smaller items (below 22EUR i believe).
So read up on it.

If i will find exact link i'll post here.

EDIT:
Here is the topic:End of drop-shipping in Europe in 2021?
From 1 January 2021 the existing VAT exemption for goods up to 22 € will disappear. In order to allow VAT to be levied, all imports into the EU will have to be declared at the border using an electronic customs declaration.
 
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Blek

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That doesn't make sense since the EU allows for free movement of trade, goods, people and services. Could you elaborate a bit on why it was easier to import to Czech and why it is hard in Poland?
1) First days of december. Company said to customs, that I import trademarked goods, so customs halted my all deliveries. Then company had 3 weeks to decide - it was like atom bomb for my venture / december for toys is like 4 other months if not better. I received goods on january. Don't know if in other countries is the same - I suppose not.

2) You have 3 cartoons, one came on monday, two on thursday (same order, but different planes transport).
a) In GB You receive 1 cartoon on tuesday, two on friday, with them there is quote of custom duty and VAT - you log in on site and pay with credit card.
b) In Poland they wait for all cartoons, then they say - please translate the invoice, then they said, that invoice have some errors on it (for example there is no DAP statement on it), so You write to China and You receive "correct" invoice - you send them back. Of course all of this is sended just before 3PM - so conversation is one statement a day - then they send You how much you have to pay, and if it's on their account - they finally bring You packs.

With time You learn how to overcome 2), but 1) is like thunderstrike.

In Poland is not the spirit of the law, but the letter.
 

seomatic

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Jan 24, 2011
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Germany
The trademark is important, but so is the domain!
If you have the de and com domain, than the trademark isn t so important. And noone can sell a good witha name without the domain.

Get the domains, make the Onlineantrag for the German zrademark! You now have 3 months time to pay the 300 fee. And can test a month or so.
First makes the Onlineantrag, will get the TM.

domain is in Seconds, TM either 3 months, or when with problems, longer.

I don't know about that, domains are not super important anymore. Most traffic comes from google or facebook nowadays. So if you're #1 for your brand on search, that's key. Sure the domain doesn't hurt though.

300 seems to be the fee for german trademark, I will definitely go with EU-wide trademark for 850. Doesn't really makes sense to be cheap here. EU is 500 million consumers, DACH only 100 million.
 

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