What are customs duties? When are they paid? For what do I have to pay VAT?
When the items you have ordered 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 items brought into the country.
When the items you have ordered are delivered to you from outside the EU customs and fiscal territory (outside the EU) Customs levies value added tax and possible customs duty on goods brought into the country. Some products, such as alcoholic beverages, are also subject to excise duties.
When the items you have ordered are delivered to you from the EU customs territory but outside the fiscal territory (e.g. Canary Islands), Customs levies value added tax on 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.
For more information about excise duties, please go to the website of the Finnish Tax Administration.
The customs duty is determined on the basis of the commodity code
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 note 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%
The basis of value added taxation on import is usually the customs value + the transport costs as well as other import-related costs incurred up to the goods’ first destination in Finland specified in the transport contract or if, at the time of customs clearance, it is known that the goods will be transported to another destination within the EU, the costs incurred up to this destination + taxes, customs duties 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.
As a rule, the VAT 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%).
Points to consider
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.
Preferential treatment requires that a certificate or proof of origin in the prescribed form is presented to Customs in connection with the customs clearance. You will get the proof of origin from the seller. You can find the valid tariff preference rates and certificate requirements in the Commission’s Taric database.
Goods imported from Turkey from free circulation with an A.TR. movement certificate are, as a rule, exempt from customs duty regardless of their origin.
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. However, this value limit is not applied to tobacco products, alcohol, alcoholic beverages or perfumes.
- The minimum amount of VAT levied is 5 euros. For imports of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products sent to private persons, this limit is not applied. The VAT is levied 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 by crew members 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. However, this value limit is not applied to alcoholic products, tobacco, tobacco products, perfumes or eau de toilette products.
Read more: More on customs clearance
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.