Subscriptions of newspapers and magazines and books
Observera: Change as of 1 July
From 1 July 2021, all parcels arriving from outside the EU must be declared, and VAT has to be paid for them. Read more: Everything must be declared
The reduced 10 percent value added tax (VAT) rate applies to books and to no less than one month long subscriptions of newspapers and periodicals imported to Finland from a non-EU customs and fiscal territory and from the EU customs territory, but from outside the EU fiscal territory.
The sale of newspapers and periodicals transported from the Åland Islands to mainland Finland has been subject to VAT as 1 January 2015. More information on the topic can be found on the Tax Administration website. Importation of newspapers and periodicals across the tax border from the province of Åland to mainland Finland is not affected by this change. Further information on imports across the tax border is available in the Customs publication on value added taxation and customs declaration procedures in import and export across the Åland tax border.
Books are, according to the Value Added Tax Act of Finland, such publications that are printed or produced in some other comparable way. Periodicals and printed materials which mainly contain advertisements are not considered books. The import VAT rate for such publications is 24 %.
The reduced tax rate is applied to a publication, where the written and graphic presentation has been duplicated in graphic form. The book contents must be readable or discernible without the use of technical equipment. An import VAT rate of 24 % is e.g. applied to recordings and e-books on CDs or CD-ROMs, flash drives or on any other similar physical device. By contrast, for example books written in braille for the visually impaired are regarded as common books.
A book can contain text, pictures, drawings, notes, charts, tables or other similar materials. Musical scores and children’s colouring books are therefore regarded as books, but not loose leaf maps, postcards or posters.
The term “book” implies that it is distributed as a separate product. Publications such as promotional brochures and price lists that mainly contain advertisements are not regarded as books.
For printed materials to be regarded as books, they have to be intended for general retail. Thus, hand-outs and commissioned research papers are not regarded as books.
Subscribed newspapers and periodicals
The VAT rate on newspapers and periodicals depends on the length of the subscription.
The VAT rate is 10 % on magazines that are subscribed for a period of no less than one month.
The VAT rate on single copies is 24 percent.
The terms “newspaper” and “periodical”, as well as prerequisites regarding subscription sales, are defined in the guide Kirjojen ja lehtien arvonlisäverotuksesta on the Tax Administration website.
Tax exemption for imported consignments of low value
An imported consignment is exempt from value added tax when it contains items valued at 22 euros or less.
For example, if the value of a consignment of books, newspapers or periodicals exceeds 22 euros, it is regarded as taxable importation resulting in tax liability. A customs declaration is thereby required. When evaluating a consignment with low value (up to 22 euros), the value is based on the customs value regulations. The value of newspapers and periodicals is calculated using the total cost of the subscription divided by the amount of magazines in the subscription period. If the 22 euro limit is exceeded, a customs clearance value and a basis for VAT are determined for the imported consignment. This VAT basis is then used to calculate the amount of payable tax. No tax is levied if the amount of VAT is less than five euros.
Exemption from customs duty is granted if the total value of the goods contained in the consignment does not exceed 150 euros.
Clearing your consignment through Customs
If you receive a mail consignment of books or newspapers and periodicals worth less than 22 euros directly to your home address, it means that Customs has released the consignment for free circulation based on the information on the parcel lable. Separate customs declarations are not required for consignments which are delivered by freight companies and which contain books or newspapers and periodicals worth less than 22 euros.
If necessary, the recipient submits a customs declaration for the consignment on their own accord. Read more: Clear your consignment
If an uncleared postal consignment that should be cleared through Customs is delivered to your home, you must submit a free-form customs declaration afterwards. Further information: Clearing a postal parcel through Customs after delivery
An order for which no customs declaration is required, as the total value of the consignment does not exceed 22 euros (postage fee excluded).
You have ordered a textbook from the United States that costs 20 euros and the postage fee is five euros. Since the total value of the consignment (postage fee excluded) does not exceed 22 euros, no customs declaration is needed and no VAT is applied.
An order for which a customs declaration must be submitted.
You have ordered a textbook from the USA that costs 25 euros and the postage fee is five euros. The importation is taxable, which means that a customs declaration must be submitted and the consignment must be cleared through Customs. Customs makes a clearance decision on the importation of the books.
Based on the customs clearance decision, the VAT is 10 % of the purchase price plus the postage fee.
If the consignment to be declared is transported by Posti, then Posti’s handling fee is added to the taxable amount for VAT. The handling fee in our example is 2.90 euros.
25 euros + 5 euros + 2.90 euros = 32.90 euros.
Of this amount, a VAT rate of 10 % is calculated, i.e. 0.1 x 32.90 euros = 3.29 euros.
The VAT rate is 3.29 euros. No VAT is applied, since the amount is under the minimum levy of five euros.
A temporary subscription which does not require a customs declaration.
You have ordered a periodical for 12 months from the United States. The total price of the subscription is 200 euros. The periodical is delivered once a month, which makes a total of 12 copies.
The value of one periodical is 16.67 euros (200 / 12 = 16.67 euros) including postage.
Since the value of a single periodical is less than 22 euros, there is no need to submit a customs declaration or to pay any VAT.