Coronavirus: Mask imports reach millions of items

a. hartrodt manages air freight shipments of protective equipment from China.

Since the introduction of compulsory masks when shopping and on public transport in all 16 German states at the end of April, the volume of imported protective equipment has multiplied. At the same time, customer questions accumulate at a. hartrodt. Jan-Eike Boonstoppel, Customs and Export Control Officer at a. hartrodt in Norderstedt near Hamburg, gives an example: "Is it permitted to import a mask delivery to Germany without the CE mark of the European Union, but with Chinese certification?" According to Boonstoppel, simple mouth-nose covers do not require a CE mark. But: "These auxiliary or community masks are subject to the textile labelling regulations and must not suggest protection in the name or description".

Medical masks require CE mark

Protective materials from China are primarily handled by a. hartrodt as air freight via the hub in Frankfurt. "We are currently managing larger mask deliveries with millions of items," reports Daniel Berger, Team Leader Airfreight Import and Deputy Customs Officer Germany at a. hartrodt in Hanover. In contrast to community masks, surgical masks as well as FFP2 and FFP3 filtering face pieces or personal protective equipment (PPE) require the CE mark when imported.

China has tightened regulations

Given the increased demand, incorrect protective equipment and certifications are in circulation. China tightened its export regulations in April, including the CNAS certificate and stricter controls by Chinese customs to protect against counterfeiting. Nevertheless, the processes are sometimes difficult to control for a. hartrodt. "If the supplier reports that the goods are ready for collection, five to six working days lead time should be planned," advises Berger. In addition to the flight time. Berger's experience from day-to-day business: "At German airports, customs needs one to two working days before the customs clearance is transmitted".

There is a special import code for corona protective equipment in the electronic customs declaration ATLAS. "This allows applications to be processed by customs with priority," says Boonstoppel. Important: Only free relief supplies for aid organisations or recognised institutions may be imported duty-free.