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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 environment.
3. Ask the producer for permission if you want to import products from outside the EEA
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. For example: plants and flowers, animal feed, cultural objects, and medicines (click here for the full list). You may need a certificate, exemption or import licence to import (or export) these goods. The product determines which authority you must apply to for the required certificate, licence or exemption.
Find Customs information
On the Dutch Customs website, there is an overview of all the various authorisations, declaration methods, duties, permits, exemptions, etc., that you may need for your import.
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.
Trade agreementsWhen doing business with a country outside the EU, there might be a trade agreement in place. The EU has trade agreements in place with many different (groups of) countries. In general, they make trade easier and lower import duties and trade barriers. But there can be specific conditions that you need to meet in order for you or your client or supplier in that third country to benefit. Also there can agreements about product quality, intellectual property, market access or documents that are to be used. Read more about trade agreements and how you can benefit from them.
Statistics: import development
Import value of total goods from all countries.