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Government information for entrepreneurs

Importing products from a non-EU country

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK | Tax and Customs Administration, Belastingdienst | Statistics Netherlands, CBS

The importation of goods from non-EU countries into the Netherlands involves a lot of work. You have to lodge a customs declaration, and pay import duties and VAT. And don’t forget to check the product requirements and regulations.

Lodge a customs declaration

When you bring goods from outside the EU into the Netherlands, you need to declare them at customs, using a Single Administrative Declaration formExternal link. This serves to bring non-EU goods onto the EU marketplace. The declaration can be lodged electronically, and is usually handled by the transporter or a customs-expeditor. You can also lodge the declaration yourself. For help, call the National Helpdesk Dutch CustomsExternal link.

Use TARIC to find your product code

TARICExternal link is the database containing the integrated customs tariff of the European Union. The database contains, amongst other things, the product codesExternal link you will need for your customs declaration. TARIC also contains:

  • a description of the products
  • the import levies and other taxes you’ll have to pay
  • other obligations you need to take into account.
You can also find the product codes in the EU Market Access DatabaseExternal link.

Calculate the import duties

The amount of import duty you have to pay depends on the type of product, and the country you’re importing from. In some cases, you are eligible for reduction or even exemption from import duties. Some possible scenarios:

You can find the tariffs in the TARIC databaseExternal link.

Check where you need to pay importation VAT

When you import goods from a non-EU country, you usually have to pay VATExternal link (BTW) at the Dutch customs. If you have an Article 23 permitExternal link, you can pay the VAT following your regular VAT return, rather than directly at customs. If you bring in goods via another EU country, you will be liable for VAT in that country. You can reclaim the amount from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. See also Government.nlExternal link.

Deducting VAT as pre-tax You can deduct the VAT you pay from your VAT returnExternal link as pre-tax. That is, if you are eligible for VAT-deduction.

Check whether you need to pay import taxes

You have to pay excise duties on alcoholic beverages, tobacco or tobacco products, or fuels. For some non-alcoholic beverages, like fruit juices, you pay consumer tax. You settle your excise duties and consumer tax at Customs, where you will also deal with import documents. There are a couple of other duties you may have to pay, for instance the motor vehicle tax (bpm)External link if you import cars. To avoid products flooding the European market at dump prices, the EU has instated an anti-dump agreementExternal link.

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 products in the Safety, Health, Economy and Environment sectionExternal link of the Dutch customs 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 concerning safety, health, economy and environment (VGEM in Dutch). Always check the EU product requirementsExternal link. You can check the requirements per country using the EU Trade HelpdeskExternal link.

Parallel import is not allowed You are only allowed to import trademark goods if the trademark owner grants you permission. Without permission, you are engaging in illegal parallel import (also known as the gray market).

International payments

Payment customs differ per country. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency landeninformatieExternal link (country information, in Dutch) offers you information on these customs 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.

Decide if you want to be an agent or an importer

As the importer, you buy goods abroad and market them in the Netherlands. This gives you the freedom to repackage the products, or make other alterations as you see fit. You can also act as an agent, and find customers in the Netherlands on behalf of a foreign company. You’ll be the intermediary, and receive a fee. The rewards are not as high as the profit from direct sales, but the risks are fewer.


Statistics: import of goods

Total import value of goods from non-EU countries

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Tax and Customs Administration, Belastingdienst
Statistics Netherlands, CBS