File an import declaration with Dutch Customs
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 onto 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)
As of 1 October 2021, goods imports from outside the EU must be accompanied with 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, Customs asks for the correct product codes, for instance the relevant HS code. The amount of the import duties depend 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 customs. 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:
- 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.
Find Customs information
The Dutch Customs website has an overview of all the various authorisations, declaration methods, duties, permits, exemptions, etc., that you may need for your import.
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.
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.
Keep track of your administration
Do you also import from an EU country? Make a distinction between non-EU and EU in your administration.
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 settle your 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-dump agreement.
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, economy and environment.
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 grey market).
Payment customs 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 most common documents for international business.
Statistics: import of goods
Total import value of goods from non-EU countries