What is import?

Import means bringing in goods from a non-EU country. Upon import, goods must be cleared through Customs before they can be taken into use or resold. When goods are imported from within the EU customs territory, but outside the fiscal territory of the EU, value added tax on import is levied in the same way as when goods are imported from outside the EU.

On 1 January 2018, 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. 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.

When importing intangible assets and services they do not have to be declared to Customs upon import, as they are not part of customs activities.

If you import goods to Finland from another Member State of the EU territory it is a case of internal trade and as such, you are not required to lodge a customs declaration or pay customs duties.

Basic steps when importing goods 

  1. The importer orders the goods 
    • Before you order the goods, you should find out the commodity code and the restrictions that may apply to the goods. 
    •  Well before the arrival of the goods, make sure you have the ID numbers and authorisations needed to lodge declarations 
  2. The transport company notifies the arrival and presents the goods to Customs  
  3. The importer or the representative declares the goods
    • The goods can be declared by the importer or their representative.
    • The import declaration can be lodged as a message declaration or online via the Import Declaration Service of Customs. 
    • The most common import customs procedure is release for free circulation and consumption.
      How do I submit an import declaration?
  4. The importer receives a decision on release and a customs clearance decision from Customs
    • The customs clearance decision is an invoice with which the importer pays the customs duties, taxes and charges levied.
    • Importers that have an authorisation for a comprehensive guarantee and payment deferment will receive the release decision and the goods right away and will be able to pay the invoice later. Please note that it may take up to four months to obtain the authorisation.  
    • Importers that do not have the authorisation are cash customers and get possession of their goods after paying the customs invoice.
  5.  The importer or the representative archives the documents
    •  The importer or the representative must archive the electronic import documents. 
    • Such documents include any commercial documents related to the customs declaration and the import.
    • The documents must be archived for six years plus the current year.
      Further information on archiving

Points to consider

The stages of import and customs declaration include

  • a security data declaration to Customs
  • the arrival of the goods into the country
  • lodging a customs declaration to Customs (presentation of goods and releasing the goods to a customs procedure)
  • receiving a decision on release and a customs clearance decision
  • paying the customs invoice (implementation of taxation).

The most common import customs procedure is the release for free circulation and consumption. Other customs procedures are special procedures, warehousing and transit. The customs procedure, nature of transaction and national procedure form a whole, and the data is disclosed in the form of codes in the customs declaration, in addition to other required information. The right codes ensure that the import taxes are levied correctly.

Detailed instructions:

When you import goods from another EU country, you have to lodge an Intrastat declaration to Customs on the goods, if the import value exceeds 550 000 euros in one year. Customs uses the Intrastat system for gathering information on trade between Finland and other EU countries.

The company does not have to check if the threshold value is exceeded; Customs notifies the company of the obligation to provide data.

Customs is responsible for the Finnish statistics on foreign trade and compiles statistics on the value of good in foreign trade as well as on transports of foreign trade and on border traffic. Foreign trade statistics describe the trade in goods between Finland and third countries as well as Union trade between Finland and the other EU Member States.

Customs compiles different country-specific surveys to be used by companies and interest groups. These surveys along with the foreign trade statistics are important tools in economic and political decision making. These and other statistics can be ordered from the Customs Statistics Service. See Contact information

The country-specific surveys on foreign trade present the latest information regarding trade between Finland and other countries by commodity group. The surveys can also be compiled in country categories. The industry surveys present the latest information on Finland's foreign trade by country and country category as regards specific industries.

The re-export survey lists goods, which have been produced outside of Finland and exported from Finland, and indicates their share of the overall export according to commodity group. The cross-border goods trade is described according to the region of Finland to which the company has assigned the Intrastat declaration for export or import or the customs declaration.

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