Making a name in the field of customs
History of the AWA Foreign Trade Academy

Today, with seminar facilities in Münster (Westphalia) and Munich, more than 90 specialist topics and brands in Austria and Switzerland, the AWA is one of Germany’s leading training providers in customs and foreign trade law. It has taken a long time and a lot of work to get to this point. AWA was founded in 1996 by Matthias Merz, who started his career at the Law Faculty of the University of Münster. He worked as a Research Assistant at both the Institute of Tax Law and the Chair of Public Law, International and European Law. Mr. Merz founded the AWA in 1996 and developed the company in his spare time. Over the years, AWA has expanded and attracted employees with very different professional backgrounds to its ranks.

AWA milestones

The AWA is founded with eight seminar topics in a small office, 16 sqm tall, under the roof of the Law Faculty of the University of Münster.

Since 2000, AWA has offered seminars in Switzerland under the brand name AWA SUISSE (Zurich), which reflects Swiss legislation and national peculiarities.

With the increasing number of AWA seminars, the team grows in size. The first trainee starts at AWA, specialising in event management.

Since 2002 AWA has been represented by Austria by AWA AUSTRIA situated in Linz.

The steady growth of the company prompts AWA to change its location to Königsstraße in Münster city centre, which has remained its headquarters to the present day.

KonVent Veranstaltungs- & Kongress­management GmbH supports AWA in meeting the increased demand for customs and export control seminars.  

Since 2010, AWA has offered the international Master of Customs Administration (“MCA”) programme in cooperation with the University of Münster.

AWA in the South: In October 2010, the AWA opens its conference centre in Munich to make it easier for customers in southern Germany to attend its seminars.

German companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need for compliance. AWA establishes the Compliance Academy (CA) in response to this development.

AWA is the first provider of customs and foreign trade seminars in Germany to be certified under DIN ISO 29990:2010 quality management system.

Reinforcing academic cooperation: the AWA and Münster University establish the Institute for Customs and Foreign Trade Law, located at AWA Münster.

The AWA introduces its Customs Specialist certification as a means of verifying the specialist knowledge acquired by participants of its training courses.

Congratulations: AWA turns 25. At the same time, our distance learning course Export Control celebrates 2021 its 30th run..

Expansion in the north: AWA takes over the HZA Hamburger Zollakademie. With the new AWA subsidiary, the AWA now also has training facilities in Hamburg.

"In the beginning, there were three of us at the AWA. We worked in a small office of 16 square meters, under the roof of the Law Faculty at the University of Münster. The technical input came from Prof. Dr. Hans-Michael Wolffgang and I was responsible for organising the seminars. Prof. Wolffgang helped me get to know the field of customs and make important contacts. At that time, the market was quite small. What distinguishes us from our competitors is AWA’s academic background." 

Matthias Merz,

"In the beginning, we recruited students through trusted contacts in order to cope with the increasing workload. In 2001, we hired the first trainee event manager. When we moved to Königsstraße in 2004, AWA had five permanent employees and student assistants. As AWA steadily grew, we attracted more and more specialists. Today, the AWA employs 40 people in a wide variety of areas.."

Cornelius von Eichel-Streiber, 
Authorized officer // Head of Finance & Human Resources