I'm from Iran and I live in Germany. I work here as a software developer.
I have plans to import Saffron (Packed and ready for sale) from Iran with help of a 3rd party company and sell them on Amazon here in Germany. I know because of the US sanction on Iran it's difficult to import this product, but let's say the 3rd party company can do it legally and I can receive it here.

My question is if I can start selling it on Amazon as a side job.

  • Do I need to register a company or register my work somewhere for that, or it's just as simple as signing up as a seller on Amazon and start selling? (Obviously, I'll pay taxes for it)
  • And does this product need to go through some food health verification process here in Germany before I start selling them?

I'm looking for some general advice on this topic. Any helps would be appreciated. I don't want to spend a lot of money at the beginning to get professional advice from a lawyer and then realize I'm not allowed to do this job!

  • 3
    If you do it in a professional way you will need registration as a "Gewerbe" (and if you expand as a "Kaufmann"). This comes with several (not really easy) taxation duties. I'm also pretty sure you need some food health verification process and/or the importer needs them. It is all possible, but you need professional advice. Maybe the local Industrie- und Handelskammer has some helps for new founders, so you get an overview. – K-HB Jan 31 at 13:48
  • 1
    You definitely need to register a business/Gewerbe. The other stuff is way beyond what can be reasonably explained here. Handling foodstuff, acting as a merchant/Kaufmann, and importing good from outside of the EU are all complex on their own. Sorting this out properly might not be economical for a side-job. Whether selling goods from Iran via Amazon would be ok would depend on the terms you agree to when selling over their marketplace. – amon Jan 31 at 13:54
  • your employer needs to ok ANY side gig. – Trish Jan 31 at 16:07

A very good starting point is the webpage of the IHK Munich ("The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) for Munich and Upper Bavaria") for people who want to import food as a business. It is in German, but Google translate might be helpful. They say in their introduction:

Food imported into Germany must not only comply with European food law, but also German food law. The importer of products is seen as the manufacturer of these goods and is responsible for ensuring that only safe food is placed on the market. He is fully liable for the imported products.

There are always three legal areas to be observed when importing food. These are food law, customs law and the issue of licenses.

Then it goes into the details like e.g, food quality check procedures and so on.

Since you are fully liable it would be a good idea to found a company for this activity. In your case a UG (a kind of Ltd also known as "Mini-GmbH", 1 EUR minimum capital stock, but typically 1k EUR or more) or a GmbH (German version of Ltd, capital stock 25 kEUR) would probably the best thing. Also, make sure you get a written ok from your employer, who has a veto in case (1) you are competing with him, (2) of concerns you might spend too much time on this activity.

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