What does it cost to import goods?

The duties, taxes and charges to be levied by Customs are determined according to the commodity code, origin and customs value of the goods.

The taxes most commonly levied upon import are customs duties and value added tax. When goods are being imported from outside the EU, then so-called third country customs duties are levied on them. The third country duty rate based on the customs tariff is levied on goods unless preferential treatment, tariff quotas or tariff suspensions lower or remove the duty. 

Customs duties are generally ad valorem duties, meaning that they are calculated as a percentage of the customs value. Some goods are subject to a specific duty based, for example, on their weight or number. The amount of customs duty is determined on the basis of the commodity code under which the goods are classified.

When the goods are imported from outside EU’s fiscal territory, e.g. from the Canary Islands, value added tax is levied.  The Finnish Tax Administration is responsible for the collection of VAT on imports in cases where the importer is registered for VAT. Importers included in the register of VAT payers must provide the Tax Administration with information on import VAT on their own initiative on a VAT declaration. Further information is available on the Tax Administration website under the section on value added taxation on importation.

Excise duty is levied on goods such as alcohol and tobacco products, which are subject to excise duty in Finland. Customs collects the excise duties in connection to the customs clearance when the goods are cleared directly for release into free circulation and for consumption, and the customer pays all taxes immediately. In other cases, the excise duty is collected by the Tax Administration.

Customs duty reductions

The right to lower customs duties or zero duties can be granted based on the origin of goods. The application of this kind of preferential treatment always requires a written declaration or certificate of origin.

Preferential tariff treatment means that the duty levied on goods imported from countries outside the EU is for some reason lower than the general customs duty, or not levied at all.

The customs duty can be lowered based on agreements made by the EU or on unilateral concessions by the EU. These benefits may be associated with restrictions regarding yearly import volumes. Preferential tariff treatment bound to import volumes, i.e. subject to quotas, can also be based on agreements by the WTO (World Trade Organization).

The industries of Member States can also, through their own competent authorities and under certain conditions, apply for preferential tariff treatment for the raw materials used in their production.

You may also avoid having to pay duties and other taxes or be granted lower customs duties, if special procedures are used while importing. Special procedures are specific use (temporary admission and end-use) and processing (inward and outward processing).

Special characteristics of customs duties:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables, prepared fruit and vegetables and some wines are subject to an entry price system, i.e. the higher the entry price on import, the lower the customs duty.
  • In addition to customs duty, an agricultural component (abbreviated EA), additional duty on sugar (AD S/Z) or additional duty on flour contents (AD F/M) is levied on certain processed agricultural products. Additional duties are declared using a code which can be determined based on the composition of the product using the TARIC database of the Commission. The product may have also been assigned a maximum customs duty (abbreviated ‘max’) or a minimum customs duty (abbreviated ‘min’). The sugar and flour content of the goods may be subject to an additional customs duty as part of the maximum customs duty.
  • Anti-dumping and countervailing duties can be levied on goods whose import at lower rates than usual to the EU would impair production in Member States.
  • You may have to pay an extra import duty, or additional duty, e.g. when importing certain goods from the United States.
  • A preferential duty is lower than the duty normally paid on goods imported from outside the EU. Preferential duties are based on preferential agreements between the EU and other countries. The EU has nearly 40 of these agreements. Additionally, the EU has granted unilateral preferential tariffs to developing countries.