Import customs

What is an import?

An import is based on the purchase of goods or merchandise from a country located outside the customs territory of the European Union, otherwise it is considered an intra-community acquisition. Any person, whether natural or legal, can import goods from abroad to Spain or any place within the customs territory of the European Union. It would be sufficient to have a tax identification number for VAT purposes and a RGSEAA sanitary registration number in the case that the imported products are intended for food consumption.

You can check whether a third party NIF is registered through the website of the Tax Agency; in the section "Checking a third party NIF for census purposes". Meanwhile, the health registration number can be consulted in the following link, related to the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition:

What import or marketing rules apply to your product imported into the EU?

Before proceeding to import any product from a third country, it is important to know the rules of import and marketing to avoid subsequent setbacks and avoid any kind of sanction by the authorities. Certain products may be subject to restrictions or even bans if they come from certain countries or specific areas.. These measures may be temporary or permanent depending on the economic and commercial policy of the European Union. In this case, import authorisations, licences and permits must first be obtained from the responsible bodies. Otherwise, Customs may impose sanctions on the importer and proceed to reject or destroy the goods. Among the products subject to restrictions and revisions are:

● Animal products.
● Seeds, plants and vegetables.
● Medicines and cosmetics.
● Flowers and plants.
● Protected species of flora and fauna.
● Waste.
● Chemical products.

Within each, the list is long and extensive. Therefore, a correct classification according to the tariff system of the product is the only way to identify if it needs any kind of license. You can search for tariff headings in the TARIC database, available on the following page of the European Commission:

Given the complexity when identifying the code of the items, it is advisable to consult an expert in the field, since misclassification can mean penalties, fines and even criminal and tax consequences.

What import duties and taxes must be calculated?

In order for a product to move freely within the territory of the Union, an amount of duty may have to be paid when the import declaration is made. The amount of this duty is determined according to the nature, origin and place of provenance of the product. Therefore, just as it happens to identify the licenses and permits required for the import, the correct classification allows you to know everything related to tariff measures and other applicable protection measures.

Depending on the trade agreements established between the European Union and other third countries, and with the aim of favouring the circulation of goods and merchandise, sometimes there is the possibility of benefiting from an exemption from paying tariffs; as long as the preferential origin of the product can be accredited by means of authorisations, declarations and documents admitted by customs. These include the famous EUR-1 certificates and certificates certificates issued by the Chamber of Commerce, although nowadays, in order to simplify and speed up the certification processes, other forms are increasingly being used, such as the REX system or the Authorized Exporter.

The other tax that must be taken into account is VAT. As with domestic purchases, 3 rates apply: the general tax rate (21%), the reduced tax rate (10%) and the super-reduced tax time (4%). The VAT is settled when the import declaration is made. However, the calculation of the taxable base is calculated by adding the customs value of the goods, tariffs, import duties, and other additional costs: transport, insurance, etc.

There are other types of special taxes that may be levied; the best known are:

● Tax on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.
● Tax on hydrocarbons.
● Tax on tobacco products.

What are the technical and sanitary requirements applicable to your product and how to certify them?

The requirements may vary depending on the nature of the goods. Even so, almost all products must meet minimum sanitary and cleanliness standards:

Industrial products. They must have the CE marking in order to be placed on the EU market. This marking indicates that the products have been tested and comply with the legal requirements. The manufacturer or his legal representative is responsible for affixing them. The importer, on the other hand, must ensure before the arrival of the goods that they comply with this requirement.

Food products. They must be accompanied by sanitary and phytosanitary certificates issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin. The phytosanitary certificate is also necessary to import seeds, plants, fertilizers, etc.

Once these products arrive at the customs office of destination, at the border control posts they are again subjected to the different sanitary, phytosanitary or quality controls in order to issue the necessary certificates to complete the import customs declaration.

Given the complexity when identifying the code of the items, it is advisable to consult an expert in the field, since misclassification can mean penalties, fines and even criminal and tax consequences.

What documents must be prepared for import customs clearance?

The most important documents required to carry out an import operation are:

Clearance authorization. This consists of granting the customs agent the authorisation to carry out customs clearance with the Tax Agency on your behalf. 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. Such are:

➔  Exporter tax data (Company name, Tax ID number and address).
➔  Importer Tax data (company name, tax identification number and address).
➔  Invoice number and date of issue.
➔  Unit and total price of the goods.
➔  Quantity of units of the goods.
➔  Detailed description of the goods.
➔  Origin of the goods.
➔  Tariff heading.
➔  Place of shipment.
➔  Delivery conditions: INCOTERM® of the transaction according to INCOTERMS® 2020.
➔  Terms of sale: "On consignment" or "On firm".

Packing list

Certificates issued by official bodies that the product complies with mandatory product regulations, such as health and safety requirements, labelling and packaging.

Transport documents. They can be different depending on the means used for transport: sea (B/L), land (CMR) or air (AWBH).

Proof of preferential origin required by the importing country to prove 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 importer must be able to provide any type of document required by the customs authorities.

Can we help you to prepare the documentation?