Pay lower or no import duties
- Marcel Hoebink
- 27 Jul 2023
- Edited 7 Nov 2022
- 5 min
- Managing and growing
Import duties make your product more expensive. In some situations, you pay less or even no import duty at all. For example, if you store goods from outside the EU in a customs storage space. Or if you import a product from a country the EU has a trade agreement with. You may gain a price advantage over your competitors, and you will make more profit.
You pay import if you import products from countries outside the EU (third countries). This applies to most of the products. However, you do not pay import duties for some products from outside the EU. For example for books, laptops, and telephones.
Free movement within the EU
Do you import products from Germany, Poland, or another EU member state? Within the EU there is free movement of . This means you never pay import duties on purchases from other EU member states. It is also not necessary to declare the goods for import at customs.
Pay lower import duties
You pay lower or no import duties if you import products from countries with which the EU has a preferential trade . This is called tariff preference. The condition is, however, that the goods are of preferential origin in (that means, have been wholly obtained or sufficiently processed in) the country with which the agreement exists, and are shipped from that country.
You also need an origin stating the country from which the product originates. Examples of this are the EUR.1 certificate, EUR-MED document, or Certificate of Origin. Which document or declaration you need depends on the country and the value of the shipment. Read more about the required documents .
Please note: a preferential origin document does not reduce or exempt VAT on (in Dutch).
The EU has trade agreements with many countries, from western markets to developing countries. There are also countries with which the EU does not have a trade agreement, such as China and the United States of America. If you import from these countries, you pay the general import duty (customs duty for third countries) that applies to your import product and you are not eligible for tariff preference. The amount of the import duty varies per product.
Goods of negligible value
You do not pay import duties for goods of negligible value that are sent to you directly from a non-EU country. This applies to shipments worth up to €150 (Total value of all goods contained in the shipment. Transport and insurance costs not included).
This exemption does not apply to alcoholic products, perfume and toilet water, and tobacco and tobacco products. You can find more information on the website of the Dutch (in Dutch).
HS code, TARIC code, and import duty rates
Do you want to know whether and how much import duties you pay for your product? The rates can be found on the websites below:
- User (in Dutch, Douane Tarief Voorziening, DTV)
- TARIC (European Commission website)
- (European Commission website, with additional information about import regulations such as import procedures and product requirements)
Import duty rates depend on the TARIC (goods code) of the product. You can ask your supplier from outside the EU if they have the 6-digit HS code of the product. HS codes of products are largely the same worldwide, and they correspond to the first 6 digits of the TARIC code. This makes it easier to look up the TARIC code in the online databases. Are you unable to find the correct TARIC code? Then call the Tax Information (0800 01 43).
Import duties are calculated on the so-called customs value. The customs value is the value that the imported goods have at the external border of the EU. In addition to the price you pay for the goods, you also include costs such as transport and insurance costs up to the border (or port) of entry into the EU. The EU has a common external tariff. As a result, it does not matter whether you import goods from outside the EU into the Netherlands or another member state. The tariff of import duty should be the same for the goods.
In addition to import duties, you pay VAT on import. You also have other import costs. For example, costs for handling your import shipment, such as the costs for preparing the import declaration and the costs for unloading and possibly storing the goods in the port or airport of arrival (terminal handling charges).
Customs union with Türkiye
Do you want to import clothing, leather goods, or other products from Türkiye (prev. Turkey)? Türkiye is not an EU member state, but the EU does form a customs union with Türkiye. As a result, you do not pay any import duties for goods of Turkish origin. Origin means that the product was made in Türkiye or was previously imported into Türkiye from another country. You can prove the Turkish origin with an ATR certificate. Your Turkish supplier can request this from Turkish customs.
Please note that most agricultural products and some steel are excluded from the customs union. In order to be eligible for a reduced import duty, you must prove the Turkish preferential origin with a EUR.1 document. As with a preferential document of origin, the ATR certificate does not reduce or exempt VAT on imports.
Temporary storage of goods
You can store goods from non-EU countries in a space for temporary (STS) upon entry, awaiting a more specific customs procedure or until they are re-exported. The goods are supervised by Dutch Customs. This also means that you do not pay import duties and other import taxes (such as VAT on import). For example: suppose you buy products in China and you sell these products (in large amounts) to customers outside the EU. In this situation, it can be wise to make use of an STS. Paying import duties in the EU for goods destined for customers outside the EU creates additional costs. The country of your customer may also have import duties. This makes your product more expensive, which is unnecessary. There are public and private custom storages available.
Tariff suspension and tariff quota
Are you a manufacturer and are certain raw materials or semi-finished products not or scarcely available in the EU? Then the European Commission can reduce or cancel the import duties for these products for a certain period. This is called a tariff . You request a tariff suspension from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.
If there is a tariff quota, you may import goods up to a certain quantity with a reduction or exemption from import duties. If the maximum quantity is reached, you pay the usual rate of import duties again.
Processing raw materials
With the Inward processing you temporarily import raw materials from a non-EU country. You process the raw materials into an end product or semi-finished product and then export the processed product to a country outside the EU. In that case, you do not pay any import duties and other import taxes (such as VAT on import) on the imported raw materials. The Inward processing procedure can also be used for the repair or recovery of goods from non-EU countries.
Import duties in countries outside the EU
If you are an exporter and you export a product to a country outside the EU, the importer in the destination country pays import duties. In the Access2Markets of the European Commission you find the rates of import duties, other import taxes, and the required documents for many countries outside the EU. When a destination country is not included in the Access2Markets database, you can consult the Market Access of the International Trade Center (ITC) instead.