German Packaging Act, eBay Global Shipping & Freight Forwarders
Since the new German Packaging Act regulations went into effect July 1st, eBay sellers have been asking questions about how this change impacts orders shipped through eBay's Global Shipping Program or other freight forwarders.
eBay did finally put out an announcement stating that sellers who use eBay Global Shipping Program (GSP) will need to comply with the packaging regulations - meaning they will need to register for a LUCID id and pay applicable licensing and registration fees.
eBay has a legal obligation to ensure that all our B2C sellers are compliant. If you do not take the necessary steps by the deadline, we will be legally required to restrict your selling privileges for the German market.
Also, please note that even when using services such as eBay international standard delivery or the eBay Global Shipping Program, packages need to be compliant when they get to our domestic hub; we won’t repackage any items.
However, the question about buyer contracted US-based freight forwarders is still up in their air, with confusing and conflicting information being provided by several different eBay employees.
The issue is that while sellers can tell when an order is going through eBay's Global Shipping Program, they don't necessarily have a way to identify domestic freight forwarder addresses - they look just like a regular US based address and can be located in any part of the country (though some cities/states are more common than others).
On the eBay for Business Podcast July 5th, we were told that seller has no responsibility for compliance for domestic freight forwarders (emphasis mine).
Griff: If a seller has excluded Germany as a shipping location and a buyer forwarding service purchases the item to be shipped to a destination within the US on behalf of the buyer, then the eBay seller has no responsibility for compliance with the Packaging Act. The item was purchased by a US buyer. The forwarding agent will be responsible for complying with the German Packaging Act, not the seller.
So I was perplexed when Jasmen@eBay gave the following information in the ongoing forum thread about this issue (emphasis mine):
Hi everyone! I wanted to follow-up with what I heard back regarding how this affects freight forwarding sales. I'll start by reiterating that this only affects business sellers. If you're not a business seller, it won't affect you.
The mail forwarding company is obligated to register within LUCID. The seller is obligated to collect the LUCID ID from the mail forwarding company. This number would be necessary should eBay ask them to implement it within their eBay account settings. There are no other obligations than asking the mail forwarding company for the LUCID ID number though, should eBay require it.
So which is it...do sellers have an obligation here or not?
I asked Velvet to clarify her answer.
velvet@ebay just to be clear, so now sellers are going to have to google every address for every order to check if it is a freight forwarder, then ask them for a LUCID ID number?
Forgive me, but that sounds like an impossible task.
Assuming sellers take that extra time to google (what a hassle!) how would they know if the end user is having the item shipped to Germany to even need this?
Assuming they are able to find that out...how exactly are they supposed to contact the freight forwarder to get the LUCID ID?
Sending a message through eBay is likely to go to the buyer, not the freight forwarder. It's possible the phone number given is sometimes for the FF but even if it is, it's unreasonable to expect sellers to spend time chasing this down.
What are sellers supposed to do if they can't get in touch with the FF? I would guess they could cancel for reason "something wrong with buyer's address" but back to the first point. If sellers don't even know if the order is eventually being forwarded to Germany in the first place, they won't even know if this applies so the only "safe" thing to do would be to cancel all orders to any FF if they cannot confirm this info within the time they have to ship the item.
I can't believe eBay really wants sellers to cancel every order using a FF....there just has to be a better way.
Velvet said she would "pass these concerns along to the appropriate team" and has not provided any additional information on that thread - but she has been responding to similar questions in the eBay Canada community.
If you happen to have a buyer in Germany using a mail forwarding company, and Germany happens to contact us to get the LUCID ID, then you could contact the mail forwarding company you shipped to (run an internet search of the address to locate the company info) and get the LUCID ID from them...
... Germany is following up with the seller because they were the ones to ship the item. Anyone can run an internet search on a buyers address and if it's a mail forwarding company, it's pretty obvious as it will bring up the business.
If we contact you about a sale, asking for the LUCID ID, then you could run a search on the address the buyer used at checkout, to contact the mail forwarding company for their LUCID ID. You would then provide that back to the request you received from eBay.
I don't imagine this situation will come up often in the grand scheme of things either, but it's something to keep in mind and be prepared for should eBay contact you about a sale.
So there you have it folks...clear as mud. 🤦♀️ Of course it's also not entirely clear what the penalties or consequences will be for sellers who are unable to obtain the freight forwarder's LUCID ID.
So sellers beware -even if you restrict Germany from your shipping locations for both direct international shipping and shipping through GSP, there's still apparently a chance you could be on the hook for at least obtaining and providing the LUCID ID of a random domestic freight forwarder because eBay does not provide any way to block those orders.