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Guide for importing products

This information is provided by: Netherlands Enterprise Agency

If you import products from abroad for use on the Dutch market, you will have to deal with government rules and regulations. You can use this guide to quickly determine your obligations. This guide is merely a guideline. You may be subject to other obligations as well or you may have to follow the steps in a different order.

1. Check whether the product is protected

If you intend to import a product, you should first determine whether it is subject to any trademark, design, patent or copyright laws. If you intend to have a product manufactured abroad, make certain that your design and trademark are well protected.

2. Determine whether the product is permitted in the Netherlands

EU products are almost always permitted in the Netherlands. The Dutch government may only prohibit an EU product in exceptional circumstances. As regards products from outside the EU, Dutch Customs checks whether you observe legislation as regards safety, health, economy and the environmentExternal link.

3. Ask the producer for permission if you want to import products from outside the EEA

You may only import and sell products from outside the EEA if the producer has given you permission to do so. Import without permission is called parallel import.

4. Determine whether you need a certificate, exemption or import licence

Some goods may not be imported or only in limited quantities. Other goods may only be imported under certain conditions or only when they meet certain requirements. You may need a certificate, exemption or import licence to do so. To which authority you must apply for this, depends on the product.

5. Check if the product complies with the Commodities Act

If you produce, prepare or trade in food or other consumer products in the Netherlands, you must comply with the Commodities Act (Warenwet). This Act provides general rules on public health, product safety, fairness of trade and proper information.

6. Determine whether the product needs CE marking

The CE marking indicates that the product meets the minimum requirements set by the EU with regard to safety, health and the environment. When products are imported from outside the EU, the importer adds the CE marking to the product. When products are imported from another EU country, the manufacturer adds the CE marking.

7. Conclude clear agreements with your supplier

Conclude a sales contract, distribution agreement or agency agreement in which you clearly state your agreements on such issues as, for instance, liability, guarantee and an indication of the laws of which country will govern the commercial relationship.

8. Take product liability into account

If you import a product from outside the EU for use on the Dutch market and it causes damage, you may be held liable as the importer. You can arrange product liability insurance cover.

9. Do not forget your responsibility for the packaging material

If you manufacture in or import into the Netherlands packed or packaging products, you are responsible for managing the packaging until the waste phase (producer responsibility).

10. Declare goods to Customs

You must declare goods to Customs if you import these goods from a country outside the EU. Based on your declaration, Customs will calculate the import or export duty.

11. Pay import levies

You may have to pay various taxes when importing goods into the Netherlands (import duties, VAT, excise duties etc.). The amount to be paid in import levies depends on the kind of product and the country of origin.

This information is provided by:

Netherlands Enterprise Agency