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IOSS identifier in VAT payments and customs clearance

The IOSS (Import One-Stop-Shop) is a special system for paying the VAT on online purchases valued at no more than 150 euros (transports costs excluded from the value). When your purchase with a value not exceeding 150 euros arrives from outside the EU and the seller is registered for the IOSS, you can pay the Finnish VAT to the online store when you make the purchase.

Contact the online store to find out whether it has an IOSS number and whether it has charged the Finnish VAT from you in connection with your purchase. This is mentioned e.g. in the online store’s terms of delivery. You can also check the purchase invoice or order confirmation.

Customs doesn’t have a database on online stores registered for IOSS.

  • Note that certain web stores charge VAT also for the selling country in connection with purchases. This is indicated in the order confirmation or the invoice. This is not connected with the IOSS system which involves Finnish VAT. If you are required to VAT to the selling country for your purchase, you will then usually pay Finnish VAT for the entire amount (price of the purchase, VAT to the selling country, and transport costs).

    If the seller does not have an IOSS number, you will not be able to pay the Finnish VAT when you purchase the goods. In such a case, the transport company will notify you about the need to declare your parcel, and you must personally see to both customs clearance and the payment of VAT to Finland. As regards the customs declaration, you can ask Posti or the transport company to submit it on your behalf or submit it yourself in the Import Declaration Service for private persons.
  • Already prior to the introduction of the IOSS system, certain web stores have included Finnish VAT in the price of goods. However, some of these web stores are not included in the IOSS system, and therefore do not have IOSS identifiers. 

    The invoice from such a web store may, for example, have the abbreviation “DDP” or the text “Delivered duty paid” written on it. Ask the web store if your order is delivered by a transport company that does the declaration in Finland on your behalf and pays the Finnish VAT. If this is the case, you will receive the parcel directly to your home address or to a pick-up point.

When and for what do I need the IOSS number?

As a rule, you don’t need to know the IOSS number of the online store. The online store usually provides the IOSS number and other information needed for the declaration directly to the transport company that delivers your purchase, and the transport company declares the consignment for you.

Even if an online store has an IOSS number, the customer may sometimes have to declare a consignment, because the sender (consignor) has not submitted all details to Posti for declaring the consignment. The missing detail may be e.g. the commodity code or the value of the goods. In that case, Posti will send you a request to declare the consignment. The notification may say e.g. that “Posti has not received the necessary information from the sender to make the customs declaration on your behalf”. You don’t have to provide the missing details to Customs or Posti. Instead, you must declare the consignment yourself in accordance with Posti’s instructions.

Declare the consignment in the Import Declaration Service for private persons. Keep track of the arrival of your consignment in Finland with Posti’s Item Tracking. Don’t declare the consignment until it has arrived in Finland. Before declaring the consignment, you should find out the IOSS number of the online store. If you have the seller’s IOSS number, you don’t need to pay the VAT again.

Proceed as follows: 

  • Log in to the Import Declaration Service for private persons.
  • When the service asks the price of your consignment, check the invoice you have received. If the Finnish VAT is specified on the invoice, enter the price without the Finnish VAT. If the Finnish VAT is not specified on the invoice, enter the total sum of the invoice or ask the seller for a new invoice in which the Finnish VAT is specified.
  • On page 2, “Consignment details”, you are asked if you bought the goods from an IOSS seller, i.e. if you already paid the Finnish VAT when you purchased the goods.
    Only choose “Yes” if you bought the goods from an IOSS online store and paid the VAT at the point of purchase. You can find this information e.g. on the invoice or in the order confirmation.
  • Provide the IOSS number, which has the format IM1234567890. You can find it, for example, in the order confirmation or on the invoice sent by the seller of the goods or you can directly ask the seller for it.
  • Finish the declaration.

Remember that Customs may ask you to provide the order confirmation or invoice for your purchase. You are personally responsible for the information you provide.

If you don’t have the IOSS number and you have to pay the VAT again, please ask the online store to return the VAT you have paid. Customs does not return the VAT for IOSS consignments.

You can ask for an IOSS identifier from the web store. You will also find out the identifier from the order confirmation or the invoice. Note that the IOSS identifier is not the same as the VAT ID. You cannot obtain a web store IOSS identifier from Customs or the Tax Administration. 

You have paid VAT to the IOSS seller already at the time of your purchase, but you cannot get an IOSS identifier from the web store or the service does not accept the identifier you provide. This means that you have to pay VAT again in connection with customs clearance, and contact the seller for a refund of the tax. Enter the price that does not include the Finnish VAT as the value of your consignment. The VAT is repaid by the web store, not by Customs. (Finnish Value Added Tax Act, section 94(1)(24), Finlex, in Finnish.)

Proceed as follows:

  • Log in to the Import Declaration Service for private persons. On page 2 under consignment details, you are asked if you bought the goods from an IOSS seller, i.e. if you paid Finnish VAT already when you purchased the goods.
  • Reply “No”.
  • You should then pay the VAT again in connection with customs clearance.
  • You can apply for a refund of the VAT from the web store after the customs clearance. Send the customs clearance decision to the web store. The customs clearance decision is stored in the Service for 90 days under My declarations.

Restrictions related to IOSS consignments

The recipient of the purchase must be a private individual or an operator not registered for VAT. Taxes for products subject to excise duty, such as alcohol products, are always paid to Finland in conjunction with the declaration. Products subject to restrictions must be declared in the Customs Clearance Service. The service is also to be used when declaring products that are exempt from licensing requirements but subject to restrictions based on their commodity code, such as certain firearm components. Alternatively, you can pay Posti or some other transport company to declare the goods for you.

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