VDS - German Shipsuppliers Association

Objectives of association

The association, founded in 1947, is the German lobby for companies in the maritime supply chain. The purpose of the association is to promote and protect the common interests of the marine equipment sector and those of trade in tax-free goods through voluntary association.


In German ports ship suppliers supply ships with provisions, luxury goods and all technical items and spare parts. These are mostly medium-sized companies with 10 to 30 employees, but the largest have well over 100 employees. Some of these companies are so-called general suppliers who deliver all the goods required in shipping; some have more than 20,000 items in their range and have several thousand m2 of storage space and an extensive fleet of vehicles. Other outfitting companies have specialised in individual product groups, e.g. dry provisions, meat and sausage products, luxury foods or deck and machine equipment, wire ropes and ropes, nautical articles, distress equipment and much more. In addition to the general and special outfitters who deliver directly to ships, there are special suppliers for certain segments, for example electrical goods, luxury goods and provisions. In addition, there are various service providers from related areas among the member companies. Since international maritime shipping has always had the privilege of using and consuming duty-unpaid and untaxed goods at sea, ship suppliers trade to a large extent with duty-unpaid third-country and excise-duty-free EU goods and are therefore under constant official control. The warehouses of the ship suppliers are located either in free ports or as bonded warehouses within the customs area. Many German outfitting companies have fixed supply contracts with German and foreign shipping companies and sometimes have to supply their ships in all international ports.

Key activities

The VDS represents the interest of its members on the following levels:

  • at federal and state level in ministries, authorities, offices, institutions and associations
  • at EU level via OCEAN with authorities and organisations in Brussels
  • at international level via ISSA at supranational organisations

The VDS also offers specialist advice for members:

  • Tax law (e.g. tax exemption for ship suppliers)
  • Customs law (e.g. customs/export procedures/special features for ship suppliers)
  • Transit procedures (NCTS + EMCS)
  • Dangerous goods law (e.g. operational obligations)
  • Foreign trade/export control law (e.g. info + operational implementation)
  • General terms and conditions law (information on current case law)
  • Veterinary law (exceptions for ship suppliers)
  • Food law (exceptions for ship suppliers)

Jens Pfeiffer, Zeppelin Power Systems GmbH & Co. KG, Hamburg


Secretary General

Atty. Thorsten Harms

Executive Assistant

Pia-Doreen Lau


Phone: +49 40 236016-29

Fax: +49 40 236016-10

Email: vds@shipsuppliers.de


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