The effect of the relationship between the buyer and seller on the customs value

According to Article 70 of the Union Customs Code, the primary basis for the customs value of goods shall be the transaction value. The transaction value is the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to the customs territory of the Union. For the transaction value to be used, it is required that

  • the buyer and seller are not related parties, or
  • the relationship between the parties has not affected the price.

The customs declaration must state if the buyer and seller are related parties, and if their possible relationship has affected the price. A possible relationship between the parties does not, as such, pose an obstacle to the use of the customs value as the basis for the transaction value, nor does the mere existence of a relationship between the parties comprise a reason for not using the transaction value in determining the customs value.

Points to consider

Two persons¹ shall be deemed to be related if::

a) they are officers or directors of the other person’s business;

b) they are legally recognised partners in business;

c) they are employer and employee;

d) a third party directly or indirectly owns, controls or holds 5 % or more of the outstanding voting stock or shares of both of them;

e) one of them directly or indirectly controls the other;

f) both of them are directly or indirectly controlled by a third person;

g) together they control a third person directly or indirectly;

h) they are members of the same family.

Persons who are associated in business with one another in that one is the sole agent, sole distributor or sole concessionaire, however described, of the other shall be deemed to be related for the purposes of this Agreement if they fall within the above criteria. For the purposes of paragraph e, f and g one person is deemed to control another when the former is legally or operationally in a position to exercise direction over the latter.

¹"person" means a natural person, a legal person, and any association of persons which is not a legal person but which is recognised under Union or national law as having the capacity to perform legal acts

When two parties are related, the circumstances must always be assessed in order to establish whether the relationship has affected the price. The declarant has the possibility to provide detailed further information on the circumstances when necessary.

However, the trade value of goods must be defined according to the transaction value if the declarant shows that the declared transaction value is very close to any of the following comparative values defined at the same time or approximately at the same time:

a) transaction value of identical or similar goods sold for import to the customs territory of the Union in transactions between buyers and sellers who are not related parties;

b) customs value of identical or similar goods based on the unit price for which identical or similar goods are sold to persons in the customs territory of the Union who are not parties related to the seller

c) the calculated value of identical or similar goods in accordance with Article 74 paragraph 2 sub-paragraph d of the Customs Code.

These comparative values must be used at the request of the declarant, and cannot be used to replace the declared transaction value.

When determining the value of identical or similar goods as mentioned above, one must take into account, among other things, the differences indicated in the level of trade, as well as different quantities and the elements under Article 71 of the Customs Code to be added to the transaction price.


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