Changes to import declarations

Import declarations for release for free circulation

Current procedure

Import declarations (e.g. customs procedure codes 07, 40, 42, 45, 49, 61 and 63) can be submitted

  • electronically in Customs’ online service or via message exchange or
  • by presenting the required document, usually the SAD, at a customs office.

Message exchange can be direct or operator-based.

A customs value declaration (D.V.1) must be lodged for consignments worth more than 20 000 euros if the customs declaration has been lodged manually with a SAD.

When requesting preferential tariff treatment within a tariff quota, the customs declaration is submitted in two phases.

No import declaration needs to be submitted for the goods if the amount of VAT to be levied for them is less than five euros.

Customs will issue a transaction identifier to the import declaration.

The customs clearance decision is also an invoice.

A customs declaration can be amended before the receipt of the decision on release, when Customs has sent a notification of the error. It is advisable to send any attachment via the Liitu system. Amendment to the customs declaration or invalidation of the declaration after the release decision is requested with a separate form sent to Customs by email or by post.

The future procedure

The data contents of all customs declarations for release for free circulation will change Declarants will start submitting declarations electronically to the new customs clearance system of Finnish Customs (UTU) in April 2021, with the exception of simplified import declarations (e.g. periodic declarations and EIDR).

Direct message exchange will be the only service channel for message exchange. Message exchange customers must start using the renewed declaration messages by the end of May 2021. The goods can be declared non-electronically only exceptionally, e.g. in the case of travellers who bring goods with them.

The use of a separate customs value declaration will end. The customs value declaration details shall be submitted with an electronic declaration.

When requesting preferential tariff treatment within a tariff quota, the customs declaration will, temporarily as of April 2021, be submitted only with a standard declaration. The two-phase declaration procedure, i.e. the so-called simplified declaration procedure, cannot be used in quota clearances before the update in spring 2022.

An import declaration must be submitted regardless of the value of the goods, when the minimum levy of five euros for VAT will no longer be applied as of 1 July 2021. A customs declaration must be submitted even if VAT is paid to a seller outside the EU in connection with the purchase, or to the postal service or express freight companies under a special arrangement. Customs declarations for consignments of a maximum value of 150 euros require fewer details than a standard import declaration.

Customs issues an MRN reference number to the import declaration.

The customs clearance decision and the customs invoice will be separated from each other, when the new customs declarations are introduced at the end of 2020. Regarding customers who have the authorisation for deferment of payment, the invoicing will be directed either to an e-invoicing address provided in the customs declaration or to an address in accordance with the customer’s trader office identifier indicated in the customs declaration.

In the new declarations, companies previously referred to as goods holders are declarants. Consignees are referred to as importers. As a rule, the importer is indicated as the declarant, and also the importer must have an EORI number used in EU customs transactions.

Customs can amend their customs declarations before they receive a decision on release also without an error notification from Customs. Any attachments can be sent in the online service in connection with the declaration or through message exchange. After the release decision, amendment to the customs declaration or invalidation of the declaration is requested electronically.

Customs declarations on goods traffic between the Åland Islands and the rest of Finland

Current procedure

If a VAT-registered consignee, i.e. importer, receives goods as freight, the goods must be declared to Customs with an electronic declaration form which also serves as a customs declaration. Alternatively, an importer can submit a customs declaration in two stages. When the goods cross the tax border, the importer can for example give Customs a consignment note or list of goods, and submit a customs declaration within ten days. 

If a VAT-registered importer receives goods by mail, a customs declaration on an electronic declaration form is not required. Posti hands over the goods to the consignee and enters the transaction in its records.

If a company or corporation which is not registered for VAT receives goods by mail to the Åland Islands from elsewhere in Finland and the consignor does not have a tax border number, the importer must visit the Mariehamn customs office for declaring the goods. The importer presents the invoice and pays VAT to Customs. The importer can also use Posti’s representative services and pay VAT to Posti who then disburses the amount to Customs. 

If a private customer receives goods from the consignor who has a tax border number and has included VAT in the selling price of the goods, the consignor must complete a supplementary declaration in the Customs ALA web service, and pay value added tax. The consignee is not required to declare the goods. 

Future procedure after the renewal

Customs is planning new declarations to be introduced in April 2021 for businesses that transport goods between the Åland Islands and the rest of Finland.

If a VAT-registered consignee (importer) receives goods as freight, presentation on an electronic customs form is no longer required. The importer or their agent submits a customs declaration to the new Customs Declaration Service of Finnish Customs. Declarations can also be submitted through message exchange.

A declaration can be submitted in advance, no more than 30 days before the arrival of goods. At the latest, a declaration must be submitted when the goods cross the tax border. The customs declaration must include an entry on the number of the additional document accompanying the goods. If the importer is registered for VAT, the additional document does not need to be an invoice, and precise value details are not required for the declaration if they are not known. As the additional document, you can provide any document that exists when the goods are transported over the tax border, and whose reference number has been entered in the importer company’s records. It must also be possible to connect the additional document to the declaration submitted to Customs. 

  • If an electronic declaration has not been submitted by the time of arrival, a two-stage procedure can be used. The importer or their agent first emails a presentation document, such as a consignment note, to Customs when the goods cross the tax border. Within ten days, the importer must submit an electronic customs declaration to the Customs Declaration Service. The reference number of the presentation document must be included in the electronic declaration. The document must be included in the records of the tax-paying party responsible for import. Two-stage customs declarations will be renewed in spring 2022.

If goods arrive to a VAT-registered importer by mail, the importer or their agent must submit a customs declaration to the Customs Declaration Service when Posti has given an arrival ID for the consignment. If a declaration submitted through the Customs Declaration Service includes a Posti arrival ID as well as a warehouse ID, Customs will inform Posti directly that the goods can be released. If the importer has not provided a warehouse ID, the importer must personally notify Posti about the decision on release by Customs so that the goods can be delivered to the importer.

If the importer is a company or corporation not registered for VAT, they must always enter the value of the goods in the customs declaration for VAT calculation. VAT must be paid to Customs before the importer can receive their goods. An invoice or some other document indicating the value of the goods must be presented as an additional document.

If a private customer receives goods from the consignor who has a tax border number and has included VAT in the selling price of the goods, the consignor must complete a supplementary declaration in the Customs ALA web service for tax payment, and pay value added tax. The consignee is not required to declare the goods. This declaration procedure will be renewed later, in spring 2022 at the earliest.

Importation of Union goods to the Åland Islands from another Member State

Current procedure

When Union goods are imported to the Åland Islands from another EU country, an import declaration is required. In regular importation, companies can submit simplified customs declarations on a consignment note or a similar document, as well as a supplementary declaration to Customs within ten days. In the supplementary declaration, the arrival number issued by Customs for a simplified declaration can be referred to as the previous document. 

As for electricity imported through an electrical grid, a declaration that starts the period is submitted at the start of the calendar month. A supplementary declaration is submitted at the end of the period.

All declarations can be submitted on a SAD form.

Procedure after the renewal in April 2020

When Union goods are imported to the Åland Islands from another EU country, an import declaration is submitted to the new Customs Declaration Service no later than when the goods arrive in the Åland Islands. At the earliest, the declaration can be submitted on the same day when the goods arrive in the Åland Islands. 

In regular importation, companies can submit simplified customs declarations on a consignment note or a similar document, as well as a supplementary declaration to Customs within ten days. In the supplementary declaration, the arrival number issued by Customs for a simplified declaration can be referred to as the previous document. 

The new Customs Declaration Service will be deployed in April 2021. The declaration process will be renewed in spring 2022, at the earliest. The objective is to enable advance declarations and the electronic presentation of goods upon their arrival.

As for electricity imported through an electrical grid, a declaration that starts the period is submitted at the start of the calendar month. A supplementary declaration is submitted at the end of the period. For the time being, this is also possible using a SAD form. This declaration will be renewed later, in spring 2022.

Periodic clearance and clearance using EIDR for release for free circulation

Current procedure

A consignment note may be used in periodic clearance as a simplified consignment-specific customs declaration when releasing goods for the customs procedure.
When the goods are placed under the customs procedure through an entry of data in the declarant’s records according to the EIR authorisation, the presentation notification is only required if requested separately by Customs.

Future procedure after the renewal

In periodic clearance, a simplified customs declaration must be submitted electronically for each consignment in advance or, at the latest, when the goods are released for the customs procedure. The consignment note will no longer be accepted as a customs declaration upon release.

Holders of the EIR authorisation must submit a presentation notification for each consignment placed under the customs procedure through an entry of data in the declarant’s records. Customs can, under certain conditions, exempt AEOCs from submitting the presentation notification. The exemption must be applied for separately from Customs.

Both changes will be introduced in spring 2022 when the declarations are submitted to the new customs clearance system.

Centralised clearance

Current procedure

The importer can have a SASP for centralised clearance, i.e. an authorisation to submit an import declaration to a Member State other than the one where the import goods are located when the declaration is submitted. An AEOC can apply for a centralised clearance authorisation. New operational models are yet to be determined for the application of the authorisation.

Future procedure after the renewal

An AEOC can apply for a centralised customs clearance authorisation when their activities are based on the new operational models, such as on electronic exchange of information between Member States, new declarations and declaration formats. The new procedures will be deployed in Member States in stages. The deployment of the first phase is planned for 2022–2023.

                            

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