File an import declaration with the Customs Administration of the Netherlands
When you bring goods from outside the EU into the Netherlands, you need to declare them at Dutch Customs. This serves to bring non-EU goods into the EU marketplace.
The declaration can be done electronically, and is usually handled by the shipping company or a customs-expeditor. You can also file the declaration yourself. To do so, contact the National Helpdesk Dutch Customs. You always need an EORI number for this.
Container Release Message (CVB)
Goods imports from outside the EU must be accompanied by a Container Release Message or Container Vrijgave Bericht (CVB). This goes for all goods, whether they are sent in a container, in a trailer, in bulk, or as general cargo. By pre-clearing items, you can speed up the logistics chain. Find out what is required on the Ready for the CVB website.
Use the customs tariff (DTV) for your product codes
Upon declaring your goods, Dutch Customs asks for the correct product codes, for instance, the relevant HS code. The amount of the import duties depends on the product code and the country from which you import.
In the Tariff (DTV), you will find per product code:
- a description of the goods
- the import duties and other taxes you need to pay upon import
- other rules for import
Calculate the import duties
To import your goods you pay import duties to Dutch Customs. The amount of import duty you have to pay depends on the type of product, and the country you are importing from. In some cases, you are eligible for a reduction or even exemption from import duties. Some possible scenarios:
- The country in which your product was produced has a trade agreement with the EU. You will need a certificate of origin.
- The goods consist of a raw material or semi-manufactured product that is in short supply in the EU. You may be eligible for a tariff suspension or a tariff quota.
Paying VAT and claiming refunds
When you import goods from a non-EU country, you usually have to pay VAT (btw) to Dutch Customs. You can deduct the VAT you pay from your VAT return as input tax. That is, if you are eligible for VAT deduction.
Import scheme for declaring VAT
Do you import goods from outside the EU and deliver them directly to customers who do not pay VAT within the EU? This is the case with dropshipping, for example. And is the value at most €150 per delivery? Then you can use the import scheme to declare the VAT you have to pay in the countries where you deliver. You then report and pay the VAT for all deliveries monthly in one go.
Keep track of your administration
Do you also import from an EU country? Make a distinction between non-EU and EU in your business records.
Do you have to pay extra taxes or excise duties?
- Do you import alcoholic drinks (beer, wine, spirits), tobacco products, or fuels? You will then have to pay excise duties.
- For some non-alcoholic beverages, like fruit juices, you pay consumption tax (verbruiksbelasting). You do not have to pay consumption tax for mineral water.
You settle your excise duties and consumption tax at Dutch Customs (Douane).
Sometimes, there are a couple of other duties you may have to pay upon import of goods. For example:
- agricultural duties
- the motor vehicle tax (bpm), if you into the Netherlands
To avoid products flooding the European market at dump prices, the EU has instated an anti-dumping agreement. This means that if you import non-EU products at a dump price, Dutch Customs may levy anti-dumping duties. Read more about anti-dumping measures and how to avoid them on the website of the European Commission.
Do you need an import licence?
Not all products can enter the Netherlands, because strict rules apply to them. Some are prohibited, or only allowed if you have the proper import licence or certificate. You may have to enter a register, for instance, if you want to import:
- animal feed
Find out more about these special products on the Dutch Customs' Safety, Health, Economy and Environment website.
Check Dutch product requirements
If you want to sell foreign products on the Dutch market, you will be dealing with several rules and regulations. A product must be safe and ready for use before it enters the market. The Commodities Act lists general rules on product safety. You will also need to observe legislation on safety, health, the economy, and the environment.
Do you sell the non-food products to consumers? If so, you must comply with EU product requirements. Exactly what you have to do for product safety and what you are responsible for depends on your role in the production chain. You can check the requirements per country using the EU portal Access2Markets.
Do you already sell your product in another EU country? Then you can also sell it in the Netherlands. This is an EU agreement. However, there may be additional product requirements. If that is the case, the producer or importer of the product will be notified by the authorised body in that country.
Read more about what this means in the article Admission of EU products into the Netherlands (mutual recognition). You can also watch a short video on mutual recognition on the website of the European Commission.
Payment methods differ per country. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency provides country information (in Dutch). This includes customs information, as well as payment methods per country. Bear in mind that if your transaction is not conducted in euros, you run a currency fluctuation risk.
Tips for importing goods
- Make transport arrangements with your supplier. Use the ICC Incoterms®.
- Record arrangements in a contract, and make sure your supplier is aware of your general terms and conditions.
- Check your supplier’s reliability.
- Look into the dos and don’ts in your chosen country.
- Find a reliable business partner at the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI). Check whether your supplier is reliable.
- Check the list of the most common documents for international business.
Statistics: import of goods
Total import value of goods from non-EU countries