Importing machinery

Machines that do not meet the required safety requirements may not be placed on the European market. For example, industrial machinery, medical equipment and household appliances. Many of these products have CE marking rules. In this article, you can read more about the product requirements and your responsibility as an importer.

According to Statistics Netherlands, in 2022 Dutch companies imported over 141 billion euros worth of machinery and appliances. This was almost 21% of total Dutch goods imports that year. All these products must be safe to use. There are European requirements for this. Also, import rules differ when importing from inside or outside the EU.

Product requirements

Products that you market in the European Economic Area (EEA) must meet European product requirements. These are rules for safety, health and the environment. CE marking shows that many machines and equipment comply with these requirements. The EEA consists of the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

CE marking

Machines and appliances sold in the European Economic Area (EEA) must meet certain European product requirements. For example, with regard to safety, health, and the environment. The EEA consists of the EU, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

Many technical products and various consumer products sold in the EEA are required to have a CE marking. This indicates that a product meets certain minimum safety, health, and environmental requirements. These requirements can be found in European directives and regulations.

Most machines are subject to the Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC). But other directives, such as the EMC Directive, the Pressure Equipment Directive, or the Low Voltage Directive may also apply. For medical devices and tools, there are special CE regulations in addition to CE directives. You can find all the information on the RVO website (in Dutch). If a machine meets the essential health and safety requirements set out in the applicable directives, the manufacturer may apply the CE logo on the product.

Dutch legislation

There is also Dutch legislation. You can find the Dutch legislation under lees meer per productgroep (in Dutch. Read more per product group). Click on the correct directive. You can find the legislation under 'Official texts' or under 'Laws and regulations'.

Responsibility

Manufacturers, importers and distributors have their own responsibilities within the CE directives. According to the directives, you are an importer if you import products from a country outside the EEA. And a distributor if you import from an EEA country.

Manufacturer

Manufacturers usually determine themselves if their machinery meet the requirements for CE marking. This is called a conformity assessment. If the product meets the requirements, the manufacturer produces a signed EC declaration of conformity and a technical construction file. They also apply the CE logo to the machine. A manufacturer can also authorise a person or company in the EEA to meet these obligations.

Sometimes self-assessing a machine or device is insufficient. For example, for products with an increased safety risk. Attachment 4 of the Machinery Directive lists 23 machines where the producer may have to use a notified body. This is necessary if the manufacturer has not fully complied with relevant European standards (EN standards) when constructing the machine. These standards describe how products meet necessary requirements in a technical sense. A notified body is a designated inspection organisation that checks whether the machine meets these requirements. The CE directives tell you if and when a notified body is needed to inspect your machinery or equipment.

Importer

If you import a machine from a country outside the EEA, you have certain responsibilities. You must be familiar with the applicable directives. And you verify that:

  • the manufacturer completed the conformity assessment process correctly.
  • they applied the CE marking properly.
  • the user manual is present in the right language.
  • that the technical file is present and complete

Keep the manufacturer's EC Declaration of Conformity. For more information, visit the page for importers on the website of the European Commission.

Please note: Do you import machinery from outside the EEA and put them on the market under your own name? Then you take on the role and obligations of the manufacturer.

Distributor

When you import a machine or equipment from an EEA country, you have the role of distributor according to the CE directives. As a distributor, you need sufficient knowledge about the directives. Check that:

  • the CE mark is on the product
  • the EC declaration of conformity is present.
  • user manuals, instructions and safety information are present in the correct language.

Read additional information on 'distributors' on the European Commission website.

Please note: Do you import machinery or equipment from an EEA country and market it under your own name? Then you have the responsibilities of a producer.

WEEE/AEEA directive on waste equipment

As an importer of electrical and electronic equipment, you must comply with the European WEEE/AEEA Directive. This directive concerns the collection and processing of electrical and electronic waste. You can register with the OPEN foundation.

Product liability

Do you import a machine from a country outside the EEA? Or purchase a machine within the EEA and use your own label or brand name? Then you are liable for injuries and damage caused by a defect in the machine under a European directive on product liability. You can take out business liability insurance to protect yourself.

Find product requirements in Access2Markets

In Access2Markets of the European Commission you can find information on product requirements and import procedures for machinery and equipment. The video below explains how to use this system. You need the product name or HS code of your product. The HS code is a commodity code used by customs to classify products. HS codes for machinery and equipment start with 84 or 85. HS codes for medical devices start with 90.

Video: Want to know the rules when importing? Use Access2Markets

Importing from EU countries

Within the EU, there is free movement of goods. You do not pay import duties if you import machinery or equipment from another member state. Declaring the goods to customs is not necessary. Your supplier in the other EU country usually charges 0% VAT. You give your VAT identification number to your supplier. You calculate 21% Dutch VAT on the purchase and declare this in your VAT return. Then you can usually deduct this VAT as input tax in the same declaration.

Importing from a non-EU country

For machines and equipment you import from a country outside the EU, you file a declaration with Dutch Customs. Usually the carrier or customs forwarding agent will arrange this for you. They charge a fee for this. They often advance the import duties and VAT to be paid. You will also need an EORI number. You use this identification number when dealing with Customs.

Paying import duties

You usually pay import duties when you import products from outside the EU. Import duties are calculated on the customs value. This is the purchase price of your product plus the transport and any insurance costs up to the border or port of entry into the EU. The amount of import duty depends on the commodity code of the product you are importing. This commodity code is called Taric code or HS code.

Machines and appliances have TARIC codes starting with 84 or 85. Rates of import duty for products starting with Taric code 84 are minimum 0 and maximum 9.7%. For products starting with 85, import duty rates are minimum 0% and maximum 14%. Taric codes for medical devices start with 90. Import duty rates for these products are between 0% and 6.7%. You can find the Taric codes and corresponding import duties in the user tariff of Dutch Customs. The article ‘How much import duty do I have to pay' contains an example of how to look up import duties in the tariff. If you cannot find it, call the Customs Phone, 0800 0 143.

Import step-by-step guide

If you import machinery or equipment, you will make arrangements with your supplier about transport and payment. Importing successfully starts with sufficient knowledge of the import process. Use the Import Step-by-Step Guide to walk you through the entire import process. From market research to concluding a contract.

Import duty relief

When you import machinery from countries with which the EU has a trade agreement, tariff preference usually applies. Then you usually pay less or no import duty. This only applies if the machinery is of preferential origin from the treaty country. This means that the products are fully made or sufficiently processed in the treaty country. You can demonstrate this with a preferential certificate or declaration of origin, such as a EUR.1 certificateinvoice declaration,or Certificate of Origin. Which certificate or declaration of origin you need depends on the treaty country.

Import VAT

When importing machines or equipment into the Netherlands, you pa y 21% Dutch VAT. You may deduct this VAT as input tax in your VAT return. At least, if you are entitled to a VAT deduction. Do you regularly import from countries outside the EU? With an Article 23 licence, you do not pay the VAT at the time of import. You then reverse charge VAT to your VAT return.

Branded products and parallel import

Parallel import is importing trademark products outside the official distribution channels. For example, you buy the article from a foreign intermediary and not from the official manufacturer or importer. Do you want to import trademark products via parallel import from countries outside the EEA? This is only allowed if you have permission from the trademark owner. The trademark owner has the right to be the first to put a product on the EEA market. The trademark holder is usually the official manufacturer.

Has the product been put on the market for the first time within the EEA by the trademark owner? Or with his consent by another person? Then it is freely marketable within the EEA. You may buy the trademarked product in another EEA member state via parallel import from then on.