External sector statistical reporting – To be observed when founding a bank?

Generally, everyone who is considered resident in Germany according to the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz, "AWG") has to adhere to reporting obligations for specific cross-border transactions according to the German Foreign Trade and Payments Regulation (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung, "AWV"). This means institutions resident in Germany have to file external sector statistical reports ("AWV-reports") to the German Central Bank.

Basically, AWV-reports have to be submitted to the German Central Bank if, as an example, payments of more than Euro 12,500 are made between non-residents and residents. Cross-border payments could be conducted by means of direct debit, cheques and notes or by cash payments. Even indirect payments such as netting and clearing of receivables and liabilities between non-residents and residents are considered to be reportable payments.

Remarkable for the AWV- reporting system is the fact that even branches of foreign entities could be subject of the AWV-reporting obligation. Branches are considered to be independent business units for external sector statistics purposes (even though they are regarded as one entity along with their head office according to company law). This means that cross-border payments between headquarter and branch may lead to AWV-reporting obligations.

Especially foreign banks which want to enter the German market by e.g. subsidiaries or EU-branches should already have a look into AWV-reporting obligations during the founding or establishment process. This is because AWV-reporting obligations may already arise during the establishing period when providing the German institution with capital or tangible means. Likewise, questions in connection with AWV-reporting should be considered with respect to the set-up and implementation of systems in connection with reporting data flows. Already during the establishing process, it can be analysed (provided the business plan has been determined) to what extend AWV-reporting obligations might impact the involved companies. In so far, it could be examined if an automatic reporting procedure is required or if the occasional manual submission of AWV-reports is sufficient.

In addition to the reporting of payments further AWV-reports such as reporting of direct investment stocks of residents abroad and direct investment stocks of non-residents in Germany have to be submitted. Furthermore, receivables and liabilities towards non-residents have to be reported to the German Central Bank as well provided they exceed certain reporting thresholds.

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