Find out what the product requirements are
All products must be safe and suitable to use before they reach the market. Their origin must be clear. If you import goods from an EU country, they are usually approved for the Dutch market. Only in very exceptional cases can the government ban EU-approved articles. If you are importing goods from outside the EU, customs will check if they comply with safety, health, economy and environment standards (VGEM in Dutch), as laid down in for instance the Commodities Act. These are general product requirements.
Check for specific product requirements
The EU proscribes general and specific product requirements. Specific product requirements concern the composition, physical properties, packaging, labelling, and registration of products like textiles and cosmetics. For example: you import sportswear from Vietnam. Then you must ensure that the label is in Dutch. Product information should also always be easy to understand. Think about technical instructions.
Use the Trade Helpdesk
The Trade Helpdesk from Access2Markets offers information on the product requirements and import procedures for EU countries. My export allows you to pretend you are a non-EU-based exporter. Using the HS product code in the TARIC database, you can find relevant information for the product you want to import.
Find out if your product requires CE marking
Some products require CE marking. Take for instance toys and electrical household appliances. CE marking signifies that a product complies with EU laws and that it can be traded freely inside the European Economic Area (EEA, consisting of the EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). When you import products from an EEA country, the producer will take care of the CE marking.
Check for CE marking
Are you importing a product that was produced outside the EEA? Then you must ensure it gets CE marking. In addition, make sure that you have a written commitment that the manufacturer will provide the technical documentation if the Dutch market authority requests this.
Do you need an import licence?
Strict rules apply to certain products. If you want to import these products, you may need an import licence or certificate. You may have to enter a register, for instance if you want to import plants, flowers, animal feed and medicine. Find out more about these special import products in the Safety, Health, Economy and Environment section of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration website.
Observe the rules for packaging
Your product’s packaging must meet all kinds of requirements, too. Do you import packaged products or packaging products? Then you are responsible for containing the amount of packaging used, plus its collection and recycling. If you bring more than 50,000 kilograms of packaging material onto the Dutch market, you must pay a packaging waste management contribution.
Check product liability
Find out who is liable for damages caused by a faulty product. If the product was manufactured in the EU, the manufacturer is responsible.
Be aware of who is liable
If you introduce a product from a non-EU country on the Dutch market, you as the importer are liable. You can take out product liability insurance to minimise your risk.
Check intellectual property rights
Check if intellectual property (IP) rights apply to the product you are importing.