Logo of the Dutch governmentGo to homepage

Government information for entrepreneurs

Importing products into the Netherlands: regulations

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK | Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO | Statistics Netherlands organisation, CBS | Tax and Customs Administration, Belastingdienst

If you import goods from abroad for use on the Dutch market, you will have to deal with government rules and regulations. You can use this checklist to quickly determine what you have to do. This checklist is merely a guideline. Your situation may be different and subject you to additional obligations. Or, you may have to follow the steps in a different order.

1. Is the product 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. Find out if the goods are 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 goods 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 European Economic Area (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 goods comply 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. Is CE marking required for this product?

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. You can also let your shipping company, logistics service provider or a customs agent do this for you. Based on your declaration, Customs will calculate the import or export duty.

11. Pay import taxes

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

Statistics: import development

Import value of total goods from all countries.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Statistics Netherlands organisation, CBS
Tax and Customs Administration, Belastingdienst