The future of Intrastat

Amendment status of EU regulations on Intrastat

In order to reduce the burden on PSIs, the EU Commission’s EEA committee and Committee for Foreign Trade Statistics approved the initiation of planning a SIMSTAT project (Single Market Statistics) in 2012. Its proposition was that all member states collect EU internal export data but that the internal import data is constructed based on the export data collected by the other countries. The export data collected would be expanded to at least include information about the trading partner, but in the future, the member states would be able to make decisions on a national level about the collection of import data (member states are still responsible for their statistics).

The SIMSTAT project was carried out during 2012 - 2016. Finland coordinated a pilot project including 17 member states from September 2013 to September 2014. France coordinated a test project including 21 member states from November 2014 to December 2015. The projects were successful and showed that the microdata of the country of export can be used as an alternative information source about the country of import. The multilateral data exchange agreements included in the SIMSTAT project ended at the end of 2017, and in accordance with the agreements, all member states have destroyed the export microdata received during the project, in which the Statistics Director of Finnish Customs acted as agreement coordinator.

As a result of the SIMSTAT project, two new variables will be added to the Intrastat data collection on intra-Community exports: “VAT number of trading partner” and “country of origin”. The exchange of microdata on EU exports would be mandatory, but it would be optional to use the microdata in EU import statistics. The timetable for the collection of export data is to be observed by all PSIs in all member states, and the quality requirements are to be harmonised. As of April 2016, the working title for the reform in the Commission has been ”Intrastat Modernisation”.

A Framework Regulation Integrating Business Statistics (FRIBS) in which the current EU regulations on business statistics are to be merged has been in preparation for several years. One of its modules is statistics on EU-internal goods trade, the so-called Intrastat module, in which the amendments referred to in the “Intrastat Modernisation” are included. The FRIBS Basic Regulation (BA) proceeded from the Commission to the Council at the end of 2016 and the Council’s Statistics Working Group reached a compromise the end of 2018. The framework regulation on business statistics enter into force in 1.1.2021, but the mandatory Intrastat micro data exchange will enter into force one year after the basic regulation, that is as of 1.1.2022.

With the Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020 (brexit), a transition period will begin until the end of 2020. Britain will remain in the internal market during a transition period until the end of 2020. Therefore, Intrastat remains unchanged until the end of 2020, so that Britain does not have to change its declaration of EU internal trade statistics.

The FRIBS basic regulation (EU 2019/2152) has been published in Official Journal at 17 December 2019, but an implementing regulation (IA) and a delegated regulation (DA) are being prepared in the Commission. The latter are concerned with the details of the Intrastat Modernisation. Representatives from the Statistics Unit of Finnish Customs participate in the preparatory work, in several different working groups and in the steering group.

For Finland’s part, the change means that the publication timetable for the international trade in goods statistics would remain unchanged. The biggest risks are that some member states do not comply with the agreed timetables and that the data collection of the new variables is of poor quality. Through the modernisation of Intrastat, the aim of Finnish Customs is to end Intrastat declarations of EU internal imports in their current form, when the framework regulation on business statistics enters into force after a transitional period of a few years. In comparison, the current number of Intrastat import declarants is over 5,000. There would be more than 2,000 companies left as Intrastat export declarants, and the two new variables would be added to their declarations.

The EU member states have also agreed on standard data security requirements in connection with processing statistical data on specific companies, and therefore data security audits (ISO27001, ISO27002) will be carried out in all member states. In Finland, data security audits has been passed.

Amendment status of data to be declared in Intrastat

In the monthly summary declaration, the value of Community acquisitions and sales is declared to the tax authorities. Customs uses this data as a framework for EU internal trade in goods. At the year 2018, there were 6 244 PSIs in Finland, whereas the number of companies practicing EU internal trade that have submitted a VAT declaration to the tax authorities was 83 713. Without Intrastat declarations, it is impossible to create specific statistical data on goods in EU internal trade. The declarants feel that the declaring of CN headings is the most straining. In Finland, only the minimum amount of data allowed by the EU regulations is collected through Intrastat. The amount of data to be declared in Intrastat declarations has been reduced, for example as follows:

  • In 2008, the field Statistical value was considered as the fifth most time-consuming to fill in. From the declarations for January 2010 onward, declaring the statistical value has been optional for all businesses. Despite this, according to the 2014 burden measurement, the way the declarants felt about filling in this field had not changed. Customs would like to remind Intrastat declarants that it is not mandatory to declare the statistical value.
  • In 2008, the field Net mass was considered the third most time-consuming. From the declarations for January 2011 onward, declaring the net mass (kg) has been optional for commodity codes with a supplementary unit. According to the 2014 burden measurement, however, the declarants’ perception of the difficulty of declaring net mass increased by eight percentage points, and net mass became the second most time-consuming field to fill in.

Through the modernisation of Intrastat, the above-mentioned two new variables will be added to the export declaration: “VAT number of trading partner” and “country of origin”. In some member states, these are collected via Intrastat already, through a national decision. Finland will observe the timetable of the entry into force of the above-mentioned EU framework regulation on business statistics when it comes to adding the new variables to the Intrastat export declaration.

Amendment status of ways to submit Intrastat declarations

There are several ways to submit Intrastat declarations. Customs recommends the following:

Intrastat Declaration Service has also the amendment notifications function, which can announce corrections and deletions to declarations previously made to the declaration service.

Finnish Customs will stop supporting operator-based message exchange in the Intrastat system (EDIFACT) before the end of 2020. These customers or their operators have to change over from operator-based message exchange to direct message exchange in time, but no later than during 2020.


More information about the future of Intrastat:
Statistics Director Olli-Pekka Penttilä, [email protected] Tel.: 040 332 1862.

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