The ABC of import

Imported goods must be declared before you can start using them or resell them  Customs duties, taxes and other charges will be levied on the goods.

Read about the basics of import on this page if

  • you import goods from outside the customs and fiscal territory of the EU (e.g. from the USA)
  • you import goods from outside the fiscal territory of the EU (e.g. from the Åland Islands or from the Canary Islands).

A. Prepare for import

Find out the commodity code of the goods before ordering the goods. The customs code indicates what charges must be paid for the goods, whether they are subject to import restrictions and whether you need an import licence.

Classification of goods and commodity codes

Goods imported from outside the EU are usually subject to customs duty and VAT. Other customs duties, such as anti-dumping duties, may also have to be paid. Reduced customs duty rates may be granted e.g. based on the origin of the goods. The country of dispatch also affects the import costs.

Check the customs duties and taxes and how to estimate them in advance.

Check how to make use of various tariff preferences.

You need a licence for importing certain goods, and the import of certain goods is entirely prohibited. Find out from which authority you can apply for an import licence before importing the goods.

Restrictions

Check whether your import goods are subject to the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)

You can handle the customs transactions yourself. However, many companies use the services of a forwarding agency or another representative  to facilitate the customs transactions.

If you use a representative, remember to authorise representative to act on your behalf. Even if the representative submits a declaration on your behalf, you are nevertheless responsible for submitting the declaration.

Using a representative for customs transactions

You can submit an import declaration in Customs’ free-of-charge online service, the Customs Clearance Service.

Customs Clearance Service

If your company submits a large number of import declarations, message exchange could be an alternative transaction channel. Message exchange requires investments by the company, an authorisation granted by Customs and system testing.

Message exchange 

Obtain a business identifier, an EORI number, for your company from Customs. Your company must have a valid EORI number in order to submit customs declarations. EORI number.

Your company must grant employees a mandate to submit customs declarations. If you use a representative, the representative must also be granted a mandate.

How to grant a mandate

If your company regularly imports goods to Finland, you should apply for authorisations from Customs to facilitate the import transactions.

  • The comprehensive guarantee authorisation is required for many other authorisations.
  • With the payment deferment authorisation, you can pay the customs invoice later.

Authorisations and registrations

As the importer, you need to make sure that the imported products are safe and that their packages are appropriately labelled. For example, if cosmetic products have insufficient package labels.

You can contact the market surveillance authority to check that the products are in compliance with the requirements.

Product safety

If you do not want to or cannot declare the goods as soon as they arrive in Finland, you can store the goods in a warehouse or another location approved by Customs.

Storage of goods

You can transport goods under the transit procedure within or through the territory of the EU without having to pay customs duty or tax.

Transit of goods

You can buy both services e.g. from a forwarding agency.

B. The goods arrive in Finland

When goods are imported from outside the EU, they must be presented to Customs. If a carrier transports the goods on your behalf, it will present the goods in connection with border crossing.

Certain goods, such as live animals, can only be imported to Finland through certain border crossing points.

Approved border crossing points

Customs supervises imports of some of foodstuffs and consumer goods. You can make an advance inquiry, that is, ask Customs in advance whether samples will be taken of the consignment. In this way you can speed up the movement of your consignment.

An advance notification must be submitted for certain goods.

Advance inquiries and advance notifications

Customs can, if necessary

  • examine goods, packaging materials and markings
  • request to see documents
  • inspect means of transport
  • take samples of foodstuffs to be analysed at the Customs Laboratory.

Some of the examinations by Customs are subject to a charge, e.g. examining a sample at the Customs Laboratory.

C. Submit the customs declaration and pay the customs invoice

Once the warehouse keeper or the carrier has notified you of the arrival of the goods or given you the MRN of the previous document, you can submit the customs declaration for the goods in the Customs Clearance Service. The goods are placed under a customs procedure with the customs declaration. The most common import customs procedure is release for free circulation

If you use a representative, the representative will submit the customs declaration on your behalf.

How to submit an import declaration

If you have a comprehensive guarantee authorisation and a payment deferment authorisation, you will receive a decision on release, a customs clearance decision and a customs invoice from Customs when the customs declaration has been processed. You will receive the goods against the decision on release before paying the customs invoice.

If you do not have a comprehensive guarantee authorisation and a payment deferment authorisation, that is, if you are a so-called cash customer, you will receive a customs clearance decision and a customs invoice. When you pay the customs invoice in the Customs Clearance Service, you will receive a decision on release, after which the goods will be released to you.

How to pay the customs invoice