Release for free circulation

On 1 January 2018, the jurisdiction of Finnish Customs in relation to value added taxation changed. Value added tax within importation was transferred from Customs to the Tax Administration in situations where the importer is included in the register of VAT payers. The change in jurisdiction concerns the import of goods to Finland from regions outside the customs and fiscal territory of the EU, or from a region inside the customs territory and but outside the fiscal territory, for example the Canary Islands. Customs is responsible for value added taxation upon import if the party liable to pay tax is not included in the register of VAT payers at the time when the obligation to pay tax arises. 

The most common import customs procedure is release for free circulation. When goods are released for free circulation, they have the customs status of Union goods.

Release for free circulation means that goods are subject to trade policy measures, and customs duties based on the law are levied on them. 

For goods to be released for free circulation, it is required that they are not under any restrictions or prohibitions.

Goods can also be released for free circulation under reduced customs duties or as exempt from import duties, depending on their purpose of use.

A credit customer of Finnish Customs receives a decision on release and gets possession of the goods before paying the taxes and charges related to the import. Cash customers receive decisions on release only after the payment of the customs invoice, and get possession of the goods with the decision.

Points to consider

Commercial policy measures include, among others, import prohibitions, quantitative import restrictions as well as import surveillance and safeguard measures.

The commercial policy measures are based on the common commercial policy of the EU countries.


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