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Import: transporting goods

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK | Statistics Netherlands, CBS

When importing goods, you have three transport options. Your supplier can arrange the transport of the goods you bought, in which case you don’t have to do anything; you can hire an expedition or transport company to do it for you; or you can transport the goods yourself. Transporting from abroad involves transport documents, supply conditions, packaging requirements, and insurance.

You contract an expedition company

If you let an expedition company (Fenex, in Dutch) arrange the transport, he will arrange everything for you: transport documents, insurance and customs procedures.

You hire a transporting company

You choose a mode of transport, and find a transporting company (Holland Transport, in Dutch) that can execute the transport for you. The transporting company will see to procuring the correct transport documents. He possesses the relevant licences for road hauliers. You will remain responsible for the customs procedure and any transport insurance you want to take out.

You transport the goods yourself

You will have to arrange everything yourself.
  • You must have the correct transport documents. It depends on the mode of transport (by road, air, rail, or water) what they are.
  • You must have the correct licence(s) for road hauliers.
  • You may have to invest in a means of transport.
  • If you are importing goods from outside the EU, you will have to deal with Customs procedures yourself.

Check the rules for safety, health, economy and environment

You have to observe the rules and regulations concerning safety, health, economy and environment (VGEM in Dutch). These rules often impact the transporting process, for instance when you are transporting waste or hazardous substances.

Food and foodstuffs

When you are transporting foodstuffs for human or animal consumption, you must work according to the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). The HACCP charts the safety risks when dealing with food or drink.

Plants and plant-based products

When you import plants or plant-based products from outside the EU, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) will inspect the shipment. You must have a phytosanitary transport document to transport the goods from the outer border of the EU to the inspection location. You must have a plant passport to transport certain plants and plant-based products within the EU.

Live animals

In many cases, the transport of live animals requires a carrier’s licence from the NVWA.

Protected plants and animal species

When transporting protected animal or plant species (or parts thereof), you must comply with the rules specified in CITES. You may need a CITES permit and/or certificate.

Cultural objects

In many cases, you cannot import cultural objects, like antiques or art. You must comply with the exporting country’s rules.

Check the packaging requirements

The transporting or expedition company may have special packaging requirements, depending on the mode of transport. Discuss this beforehand. Also be aware that as the importer, you are responsible for the goods’ packaging management until the waste phase. You must comply with EU legislation as well as the 2014 Packaging Management Decree.

Insure your goods

Check who is responsible for the goods before, during and after transport. Cover your risks, for instance by taking out transport insurance.

ICC Incoterms® - international delivery conditions

For international transport, make use of the ICC Incoterms®. These are international standards for goods transport, to cover for instance:

  • Who arranges the transport from where to where
  • Who is responsible for transport insurance, licences, documents and cutoms procedures
  • At what point the transport liability transfers from seller to buyer.
N.B.: The most recent version of the Incoterms is Incoterms® 2020. If you have been using the ICC Incoterms® 2010, you can continue to do so. They remain valid.


As of 1 January 2021 you most likely need to use different documents to import or export goods. If you import or export agricultural goods, plants or use wooden packaging, you will need extra certificates and undergo inspections. For more information, check our Brexitloket pages.

Statistics: inbound transport

Share of (selection of) transport modes in total inbound transport of commodities to the Netherlands.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
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