An amendment to the German Packaging Act will require producers and online merchants globally to be registered with the country’s LUCID Packaging Register to be able to continue to sell into the German market.
While the amendment has impacted some producers and sellers in Europe already, starting on July 1, 2022, marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy must validate that their sellers globally hold a valid Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) registration number or they will have to block sales to German addresses.
“Electronic marketplaces are required to verify whether retailers and sellers of goods are registered in the LUCID Packaging Register and whether they comply with the system participation requirement. Only if they are registered and comply with the system participation requirement are electronic marketplaces allowed to offer their goods.”Press Release – Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR
eBay has partnered with Lizenzero to help sellers license their packaging digitally through the Interseroh+ system. Lizenzero has streamlined the process for sellers and makes it easy to comply with the three steps required to be in compliance:
- Data Reporting
eBay sellers will also receive a 5% discount through this partnership with Lizenzero.
To learn more about how to get your packaging licensed and why you need a license or any other questions related to this new law as it applies to your sales on eBay, visit Lizenzero’s site in English here.
eBay sellers that do not complete this process will be blocked from selling to Germany after July 1, 2022.
Etsy in a blog post also informed its sellers about this forthcoming change and just like eBay, it will also require sellers to provide a valid EPR registration or block sales to Germany.
The marketplace did not partner with a service provider in Europe that could help its sellers.
But there is an ongoing discussion thread in the community forums where Etsy sellers have offered tips and suggested service providers to other sellers that would enable them to be compliant with the new regulations.
Must I Register?
If you plan to sell to Germany, the answer is Yes. Even a single sale will require you to be registered.
Obviously, for some sellers, this will not make much financial sense and according to information provided by eBay and Etsy, both marketplaces will automatically block orders to Germany if the seller did not provide proof of their LUCID registration.
The Registration Asks for VAT Number – I Don’t Have One
In the FAQ document provided by ZSVR, the agency says that a “national tax number” may be used as well instead of a VAT number. For US sellers operating as sole proprietorships that would mean your social security number.
While Germany’s data protection laws are some of the strictest in the world, providing a social security number may not be the best suggestion here, regardless.
Sole proprietors should consider requesting a free EIN number from the IRS which will further separate your business finances from your personal finances but will also change how you file your taxes. We suggest you consult an accountant before you decide to go through that step.
Why Can’t eBay or Etsy Just Register All Sellers?
Unlike VAT tax regulations which are based on the amount sold or declared, eBay and Etsy do not know anything about your packaging.
The German Packaging Act places the full responsibility on the producer, which now includes shipping materials used by international merchants and sellers as well. Failure to comply with the new regulation can lead to hefty fines up to 200,000 Euros.
Marketplaces that do not fulfill orders themselves have no way to monitor or certify packaging used by sellers and the law recognizes this fact. The German regulations only make the marketplaces responsible for ensuring they obtain valid EPR registration numbers from their sellers.
What if I Sell From My Own Store – Not Through eBay or Etsy?
These new regulations impact all merchants internationally, regardless if they sell on a marketplace or through their own website.
There are a number of ways to be compliant and we suggest starting here on the ZSVR’s official website (link points to the English version) to learn more about the German Package Act requirements.
Merchants can also check out this blog post from sustainable eCommerce consulting agency Ecosistant which digs a bit deeper into the requirements and how the German regulations may even affect B2B sales.
Will Other EU Countries Implement Similar Registration and License Requirements?
That has been the fear since the EU Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste was implemented as it applies to all EU member states.
Like many such directives from the EU, it leaves execution up to each country to accomplish the goals of the directive resulting in 27 different rules and regulations.
Additionally, some non-EU member countries in Europe such as the UK, Switzerland, and Norway will have their own schemes as well, potentially adding to the complexities.
Germany’s Packaging Act appears to be the most restrictive in Europe to date. Even single shipments are subject to its provisions as there is no minimum threshold before compliance kicks in.
It’s very likely that Germany’s way to comply with the EU directive may just pave the way for similar regulations in Europe that will impact sellers worldwide. Stay tuned!
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