Importing products into the Netherlands: regulations

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Netherlands Tax Administration, Belastingdienst
Netherlands Tax Administration, Belastingdienst
4 min read

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, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands 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

You may only import and sell products from a licensed brand outside the European Economic Area (EEA) if the producer has given you permission to do so. Import without permission is called parallel import which is banned.

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 require a phytosanitary certificate or a CITES-permit. For medicines, you need a pharmaceutical permit. You also need permits and/or licences to import animal feed, cultural objects, waste materials, strategic goods, and more. Click here for the full list. The product determines which authority you must apply to for the required certificate, licence or exemption.

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 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 (extended producer responsibility).

10. Make sure the import documents are in order

To import products into the Netherlands, you will need transport documents. If you have declared preferential origin, you also need a certificate of origin. And an invoice declaration. Find out which import documents you need.

11. Declare goods to Customs

You must declare goods to Dutch 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, Dutch Customs will calculate the import or export duty.

12. 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.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO