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Magazines delivered from outside the EU need to be declared to Customs as of July – the change also concerns magazines imported from the EU territory to the Åland Islands

10.6.2021 9.05
Press release

The VAT reform of the online trade also concerns magazines imported from outside the EU. In future, VAT must be paid on these magazines and a declaration submitted. The reform especially affects the Åland Islands, which is not a part of the fiscal territory of the EU, and where most magazines are delivered across the tax border. Magazines ordered by private individuals from outside the EU must also be declared in future.

The coming reform on 1 July 2021, which concerns the whole EU territory will include, in addition to online purchases, magazines brought from outside the EU. Furthermore, magazines delivered across the tax border from e.g. Sweden to the Åland Islands, are in future subject to VAT and they must be declared. Until now, no declaration has been required for magazines if the value of the magazines in a consignment has not exceeded 22 euros. 

The objective of the reform is to achieve an equal competitive position for domestic businesses and for businesses in other EU member states. Up until now, the VAT exemption has brought about a competitive advantage for online sales from outside the EU.

Magazine publishers can use freight clearance to bring in smoothly large shipments of magazine subscriptions

This change is significant for both magazine publishers and subscribers. Part of the domestic magazines are brought in from outside the EU, in which case customs formalities must be handled. Magazine publishers have the possibility to clear magazines arriving as freight with one single declaration, thus securing that the delivery of magazines to customers runs smoothly in future

- For customers it would be best if the customs clearance was done with one single declaration by the magazine publishers, says Senior Specialist Antti Hästbacka

- Magazine publishers can also use a representative to clear the goods as freight, if they don’t wish to declare the loads in their own name. In any case, it would be best if single magazines were not declared, Hästbacka continues.

A private individual must declare one by one magazines ordered as separate postal deliveries

Magazines that arrive as single postal deliveries must each be declared separately. In that case, the magazine subscriber is the importer. A subscriber, who wishes to avoid the customs declaration, can use a representative. The VAT must be paid no later than upon import in connection with the customs clearance. However, the subscriber may have paid the VAT to the seller when the order was placed, if the seller has made this possible.

- Declaring magazines from outside the EU is a surprising change for many subscribers and a troublesome additional burden. If the tax can be paid in advance in connection with the subscription invoice, and the clearance is taken care of by the representative, i.e. more reliably by the transport company bringing the magazines, no further measures are needed, says Hästbacka.

Facilitated solutions for magazines to be sent to the Åland Islands

A large quantity of magazines read on the Åland Islands are delivered across the tax border – either from mainland Finland, Sweden or from countries further away. On the Åland Islands, the subscriber does not have to submit a customs declaration for each magazine, if the magazine is sent to the Åland Islands from somewhere else in Finland and the company submitting it has a tax border number. A company that has a tax border number takes care of the customs formalities and the settling of the taxes.

If the submitting company does not have a tax border number, the subscriber must clear the consignment. However, to make this process easier we are still trying to find solutions. Finnish Customs will provide instructions on this matter as soon as possible.

We are also aiming to find facilitated procedures regarding magazines sent to the Åland Islands from Sweden and other places within the EU. 

Ahvenanmaa Everything must be declared Press Release