Importing goods to help people suffering from the war in Ukraine
The European Commission made a decision (2022/1108) that goods imported to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine and people in need in Ukraine, can be exempted from import duties and value added tax (VAT) on import. The exemption can only be granted if certain requirements concerning the importers, the goods and the use of the goods are met.
The decision applies to goods re-exported to Ukraine and to goods used in the following EU Member States: Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The decision will apply to imports from 24 February 2022 to 31 December 2022.
What are the requirements for exempting goods from import duties and VAT?
The following requirements must be met:
- The goods are imported for release for free circulation by any of the following actors:
- State organisations including state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law, or actors importing the goods on their behalf. Private actors granted authorisation by the Customs Authorisation Centre are also treated as other bodies governed by public law. The authorisation can only be granted if the actor provides services falling under the scope of the decision on behalf of a public body and under its supervision.
- Charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities of the EU Member States or actors importing the goods on the organisations’ behalf.
- The goods are intended for any of the following purposes:
- The goods are distributed free of charge to persons fleeing the war in Ukraine.
- The goods are made available free of charge to persons fleeing the war in Ukraine but the goods will remain the property of the approved actors. Such goods include goods imported for the use of reception centres.
- The goods are imported for transfer to Ukrainian state organisations or other charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the Ukrainian competent authorities for distribution free of charge to persons in need in Ukraine.
- The requirements for restrictions on transferring the goods are met (Articles 75, and 78–80 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 setting up a Community system of reliefs from customs duty, and Articles 52 and 55–57 of Directive 2009/132/EC). In other words, the goods may only be lent, hired out or transferred, whether for a consideration or free of charge, for purposes for which the exemption from import duties has been granted. If the requirements for the exemption are no longer met or the goods will be used for other purposes, Finnish Customs must be notified of the matter immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org) and any import duties must be paid.
- The exemption from import duties granted to goods imported by charitable or philanthropic organisations, or on their behalf, will remain in effect as long as the goods are used for the purposes justifying exemptions from import duties laid down in the Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 and the organisations meet all relevant requirements. The exemption from import duties can also be granted to goods imported for release for free circulation by disaster-relief agencies to meet their needs during the relief effort under the same conditions. The goods may be tent villages, blankets or other similar items imported for the establishment of temporary bases, and computers and telephones to be used by the organisations. The exemption from import duties and value added tax does not apply to materials and equipment intended for rebuilding disaster areas.
Authorisation and written commitment
Charitable or philanthropic organisations and other actors treated as other bodies governed by public law must obtain an authorisation from the Customs Authorisation Centre. Send a free-form application for the authorisation to lupakeskus(at)tulli.fi.
At least the following information must be provided in the application:
- description of the applicant’s activities for which the goods exempted from import duties will be distributed or used
- description of the goods to be imported and, if necessary, description of how the goods will be used to help disaster victims
- description of the applicant’s accounting system and description of how, using the accounting system, Finnish Customs can supervise the activities (by carrying out inspections to verify that the goods have been used for the purposes falling under the scope of the exemptions from import duties)
To receive the authorisation, the importer must also provide a written undertaking, which the Customs Authorisation Centre will send to the applicant for signature. The importer must also meet all obligations related to the authorisation.
Which goods can be imported?
The relief goods referred to in these guidelines may include blankets, hygienic products, foodstuffs, medicines and medical supplies. Other goods can also be exempted from import duties and value added tax if their use for relief purposes can be justified. Description of the intended purpose of the goods and justification for their use must always be attached to the customs declaration.
What information must be included in the customs declaration?
The customs declaration must contain additional information, based on which Finnish Customs can grant the goods exemption from customs duties and value added tax, when the goods are imported to help disaster victims (Article 74 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 setting up a Community system of reliefs from customs duty, and section 94(1)(12) of the Value Added Tax Act).
The customs declaration must contain the following information:
- An attachment listing the goods and detailing their intended purpose of use with additional document code ‘1ZZZ – Other document’.
- The commodity codes of the goods and the trade names to describe the goods. Provide the weight and value of the goods and the number of packages in accordance with the description and commodity codes.
- The additional information code ‘FIUKR – Goods imported to help victims of the disaster in Ukraine’ and one of the following additional procedure codes:
- ‘C26 – Goods imported to help disaster victims’ if the goods are not exempted from customs duties
- ‘696 – Goods exempted from customs duties imported to help disaster victims’ if the goods are exempted from customs duties
- The end user entitled to the benefit must be provided in the customs declaration either as the declarant or as the recipient, or the additional information code ‘FIXXX’ should be entered in the field for additional information. The use of representative is permitted.
- The number and date of the authorisation granted by the Customs Authorisation Centre or the competent authority of the other EU Member State, by using additional information code ‘1ZZZ – Other document’).
- The details of the authorisation must be provided if the importer is a charitable or philanthropic organisation or a private actor that provides services on behalf of a public body and under its supervision. No authorisation is required if the importer is a state body (a government agency), a public body (municipality, church or parish) or a body governed by public law (Finnish Red Cross).
- If the importer has been granted authorisation in another EU Member State, e.g. Estonia, the importer must also attach the authorisation to the customs declaration.
- If a private actor imports goods on behalf of a body entitled to customs and tax benefits, a statement from the end user in which the body entitled to the customs and tax benefits assures that the goods will be used for the intended purpose, must be attached to the customs declaration (Commission Decision 2022/1108)
- If the import declaration has been submitted to Finland but the goods will be transferred to another EU Member State or they will be re-exported to Ukraine, this must be entered in the customs declaration with the additional information code ‘FIXXX’. An advance notification of each transfer must also be submitted.
Advance notification of the transfer must be submitted
Goods exempted from import duties and value added tax can only be transferred between the EU Member States mentioned in the decision or to Ukraine. The goods may only be transferred between the charitable organisations approved in the countries mentioned in the decision or to charitable or philanthropic organisations in Ukraine approved by the Government of Ukraine. The goods to be transferred must be used for the purposes mentioned in the decision. When the goods are transferred, an advance notification of them must always be submitted to Finnish Customs.
The advance notification is submitted as follows:
- The advance notification must be submitted before the physical transfer of the goods
- The advance notification must be submitted 24 hours before the transfer. If the transfer takes place outside office hours, the advance notification must be submitted 48 hours before the transfer.
- The advance notification must be marked ‘Advance notification of transfer of goods to victims of the war in Ukraine’.
- Provide the following information on the goods to be transferred:
- MRNs of the customs declaration for the goods
- name of the recipient of the goods, country of destination and country of use as well as proof or information stating that the recipient is an actor approved under the Regulation
- description of the intended purpose of the goods
- number of packages, weight, description of the goods and commodity codes
- Send the advance notification by email to tulliselvitystuki(at)tulli.fi.
- The Electronic Service Centre will respond to the message by approving or rejecting the transfer.
Please note that instead of using an electronic export declaration, an oral declaration without value or weight restrictions can be used for the relief shipments exported from Finland to Ukraine. An oral declaration can also be used for goods requiring an advance notification if all other conditions are met. The oral declaration can only be submitted at the last customs office before exit from the EU and a list of the items contained in the relief shipment must be presented to support the declaration. However, an oral declaration cannot be provided for goods subject to export restrictions or suspension of excise duty.
Submitting a retroactive claim for revision
An application for exemption from import duties and value added tax on goods imported from 24 February 2022 can be submitted retroactively. A claim for revision must be sent to Finnish Customs to receive the exemption. For instructions on how to claim the exemption retroactively, see an earlier notice.