Export customs clearance

Who can export?

Nowadays, more and more companies are taking the step towards internationalization searching for new opportunities to increase their sales. That is why it is essential to understand the export process and all that it implies, with its obligations and risks in order to carry it out satisfactorily and with the maximum guarantees.

What is an export?

An export operation is based on the sale of goods or merchandise to a country located outside the customs territory of the European Union; otherwise it would be considered an intra-community delivery.

All companies can export regardless of their type (SME, start-up, multinational, etc.) The important thing is that you have a complete overview of the operation, especially in relation to the logistical and customs process, and also consider the technical requirements of the destination market.

How to register as an exporter?

To export, you must register your company in the Register of Exporters to obtain an EORI number. The EORI number is a code required by the customs authorities to identify those companies that carry out export and import activities..

The EORI number can be requested through the Tax Agency's electronic office. In the case of foreign companies located in the EU, they must link their NIF to a Spanish EORI in order to be able to operate.

The EORI code will consist of the NIF preceded by the two-digit ISO code for Spain (ES), for example, ESA123456789.

Exporting companies can check the validity of their EORI on the European Commission website, which is available via the following link:

On the other hand, if you are going to export to a country with which there is a preferential free trade agreement, you must apply for the status of Authorized Exporter or Registered Exporter (REX) depending on the type of agreement established. Both procedures are carried out at the Tax Agency.

Need help with paperwork?

What documents do you need to prepare for the customs authorities?

Depending on where you are exporting to, you may be asked for different ones. The most important documents that are usually required to carry out an export operation are:

Clearance authorization. This consists of granting the customs agent the authorisation to carry out the customs clearance on your behalf before the Tax Agency. This procedure is carried out telematically on the Tax Agency's website

Commercial invoice. It must meet certain minimum requirements with regard to its content and form. These are:

Packing list.

Certificates issued by official organizations certifying that the product complies with mandatory regulations on health and safety standards, as well as labelling and packaging regulations.

Proof of preferential origin required by the importing country in order to confirm the origin of the goods. The type of document requested will depend on the preferential agreement applied between the EU and the country of destination.

Other documents and declarations.. Depending on the origin and nature of the product, the exporter must be able to provide any type of document required by the customs authorities.

What are the steps for an export customs clearance?

Once the interested party has decided to carry out the export operation, he/she must contact his/her customs broker, who will advise and inform him/her about all the details that must be considered in order to carry out the transaction.

When the customs broker has in his possession all the documentation, and the merchandise is located in a customs precinct, he proceeds to initiate all the procedures related to the possible quasi-customs inspections if the operation itself requires it.

Quasi-customs inspections are composed by the foreign health, animal health, plant health (FITO) and quality control (SOIVRE) agencies. These inspections are carried out at Border Inspection Posts by independent bodies of the Tax Agency.

When you have all the necessary documentation, the export declaration is presented to customs, which assigns it one of the following circuits:

Green: : the goods are are allowed to leave the customs territory of the European Union.

Orange: a documentary control by customs is required before authorizing the exit of goods from the territory of the European Union.

Red: : both documentary and physical control by customs is required before authorizing the exit of goods from the European Union.

Who must submit the customs declaration?

The person concerned may lodge the customs declaration himself by means of self-clearance. However, it is usually a customs representative who acts on behalf of the concerned person. This person is in charge of processing the customs clearance, since the preparation of this document requires a high level of knowledge in tax and customs matters.

It is necessary to point out that any mistake when submitting the documentation can lead to sanctions, both administrative and economic by the Spanish Tax Agency.

There are also complications that could arise when issuing certain certificates (sanitary, phytosanitary, or conformity) due to lack of knowledge of the regulations and which can cause the blocking of the goods, and even their rejection by the customs office of destination.

Need more information?