ATLAS (“Automated Tariff and Local Customs Processing System”) describes the IT solution of the German customs administration, with the help of which customs clearance and the monitoring of cross-border goods traffic are handled electronically. Companies must transmit the import and export declaration including all necessary data to the customs authorities with the help of ATLAS if they want to export goods or if they want to release them for free circulation, inward processing or a customs warehousing procedure, i.e. import the goods. Customs also informs the company of its notification of the corresponding taxes electronically.
When importing goods, companies only have to submit an import declaration via ATLAS if the value of the goods exceeds 22 euros or the weight exceeds 1,000 kilograms. When exporting goods, the threshold values, from which an export declaration is required, amount to a value of EUR 1,000 or a weight of 1,000 kilograms. Then the company also needs an export accompanying document and it has to report to the customs office that the goods have arrived at it (“presentation”).
The data entered is stored centrally so that all customs administration offices in Germany can access it. ATLAS also transmits the data that are necessary for the movement of goods within the European Union to other customs authorities in other European countries.
In July 2009, the electronic ATLAS system replaced paper-based customs clearance. Since then, companies have been obliged to register goods exports only using ATLAS.