What are customs duties? When are they paid? For what do I have to pay VAT?
Import taxes consist of value added tax and customs duty on imported goods. Some products are also subject for example to exciseduty.
The quality, place of dispatch and value of the goods, affect the import taxes:
• When the goods are delivered to you from EU’s customs and fiscal territory (from another EU country) and the items are either manufactured or cleared in that country, Customs does not collect value added tax, customs duty or excise duty on the goods brought into the country.
• When the goods are delivered to you from outside EU’s customs and fiscal territory (outside the EU) Customs levies value added tax and possible customs duty on the goods brought into the country. Some products, such as alcoholic beverages, are also subject to excise duties.
• When the goods are delivered to you from the EU customs territory but outside the fiscal territory (e.g. Jersey or the Canary Islands), Customs levies value added tax on the goods brought into the country. Some products, such as alcoholic beverages, are also subject to excise duties.
By using the Customs duty calculator, you can calculate an estimate of the import duties and taxes on the goods you bring in.
The Tax Administration's website has more information on excise duties.
The amount of customs duty depends on the item and its value
The customs duty is usually determined on the basis of the commodity code and the customs value. The customs duty is usually an ad valorem duty, calculated as a percentage of the customs value of the goods. The customs duty can also be a specific duty, e.g. euros/kilo or euros/litre.
As a rule, the customs value is the purchase price of the goods + the transport and insurance costs up to the EU border. As for postal consignments, the postal charges up to the destination have to be included in the customs value.
Please observe that
- when the total value of the goods in a consignment excluding transport costs is no more than 150 euros, the consignment is, with some exceptions, free of customs duty
- the amount of customs duty depends on the commodity code under which the goods are classified
- some goods are free of customs duty on the basis of their commodity code
- In addition to the actual customs duty, you may have to pay an additional import duty e.g. on certain goods from the USA, or anti-dumping or countervailing duties on goods that when imported, would harm the EU countries own production.
For more information, please go to the Taric database.
The standard VAT rate is 24%
Usually, the value added tax rate is 24%. Exceptions to this are, for example
- foodstuffs (14%)
- books and art items (10%) and
- magazines subscribed for at least a month (10%).
The basis of value added taxation on import is usually
- the customs value
- • the cost of transport and other costs that are connected to the importation up to the first place of destination in Finland specified in the transport contract or, if it is known at the time of customs clearance that the goods will be transported to another place of destination within the EU, the costs incur up to this place of destination AND
- any other import charges payable to the state or to the EU in connection with the customs clearance. Any taxes and other charges payable outside Finland are also included in the taxable amount.
The customs duty to be levied may be lower than the full customs duty or even 0% if the goods are imported directly e.g. from a country that has a valid preferential tariff agreement with the EU, such as Norway, Switzerland, Morocco or Peru. A condition for this is that the products are originating products.
To obtain preferential treatment, you may be asked to present Customs with a certificate or proof of origin in the prescribed form in connection with the customs clearance. You will get the proof of origin from the seller.
A proof of origin in the prescribed form is normally not required if the goods are sent from a private person to a private person and not worth more than 500 euros, or if they are made up of a traveller’s personal luggage and have a total value of no more than 1,200 euros.
You can find the valid preferential duty rates in the commodity code service Fintaric, and you can check the requirements for proofs of origin according to origin country in the list of preferential proof of origin upon import (in Finnish).
Goods imported from Turkey with an A.TR. movement certificate are, as a rule, exempt from customs duty regardless of their origin.
Please note: Goods ordered e.g. from the USA, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New Zealand are always subject to full customs duties, as these countries do not have a preferential tariff agreement with the EU.
When the total value of the goods in a consignment without the transport costs is no more than 22 euros, the consignment is free of VAT.
Exception: tobacco products, alcohol and alcoholic beverages as well as perfumes and eau de toilette products are always taxable.
The minimum amount of VAT levied is 5 euros.
Exception: For imports of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products sent to private persons, this minimum amount levied is not applied, rather VAT must be paid also when it amounts to less than 5 euros. The minimum levy of 5 euros is also not applied to imports of these products by travellers or to imports of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products brought in by crewmembers of a vehicle in professional traffic between Finland and a country or region outside the EU.
If the total value of the goods in a consignment is no more than 150 euros, the consignment is free of customs duty.
Exception: Customs duty must always be paid on tobacco and tobacco products, alcohol and alcoholic beverages as well as perfumes and eau de toilette products.
For customs clearance, the value of the consignment is declared in the currency stated on the invoice or order confirmation. The purchase price is converted into euros according to the conversion rate applicable on the clearance date as confirmed by Customs.