Paying import duties

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

Do you import goods or raw materials from a country outside the European Union (EU)? You will probably have to pay import duties on this and other costs, such as customs clearance fees. Read more about paying import duties and when you do not have to pay any or fewer import duties.

What are import duties?

Import duties are taxes that you have to pay when you import goods or raw materials from third countries. These are countries outside the European Union (EU). Are you importing from an EU Member State? Then you do not pay any import duties.

Import duties protect EU industry and employment from cheaper products from third countries.

Same import duties for EU countries

You pay the same rate of import duties in every EU member state when importing a product from outside the EU (common external rate). For example, do you have goods sent from the US to customers in the Netherlands and Germany? Then you pay the same rate for both packages.

Calculate import duties

The amount of import duties you pay depends on the product code of the item. This code is called the Taric code upon import. Most Taric codes consist of 10 digits. Taric codes are based on the 6-digit Harmonised System (HS) codes. Customs worldwide use these HS codes to classify products.

Look up the Taric code of your product (in Dutch) and the associated tariff (Douane Tarief Voorziening, DTV) of the Customs Administration of the Netherlands. You then calculate the import duties on the customs value of your products. The customs value is the purchase price of the product plus the costs for transport and insurance to the EU border or port of entry. For some products, the import duties do not depend on the customs value. You then pay import duties per weight or size.

Read more about determining the customs value.

Pay no or fewer import duties

Sometimes you do not have to pay any or fewer import duties. For example, if you import a product from a country with which the EU has a trade agreement. In that case, you must have a document of preferential origin from your supplier.

Are certain raw materials or semi-finished products not or hardly available in the EU? Then the European Commission can reduce or cancel the import duties for these products for a certain period. This is called a tariff suspension. A tariff quota is also possible. This means that you can import a certain amount of goods with a reduction or exemption from import duties. When the maximum quantity is reached, you pay the general rate of import duties.

Read more tips about limiting import duties.

Other import duties

Sometimes you pay other taxes in addition to the import duty. For example, anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties (in Dutch). You are faced with an anti-dumping duty when a supplier from a third country “dumps” goods on the European market at a much lower price. Or you must pay countervailing duties. This is necessary when a supplier from a third country receives government support that allows it to keep the price of the product artificially low.

When importing agricultural goods you may have to deal with agricultural levies (in Dutch).

Customs clearance fees

In addition to import duties and import VAT, you pay customs clearance costs for imports from countries outside the EU. These are, for example, costs for preparing the import declaration. Or costs for unloading, and possibly storing goods in the port or airport of arrival (terminal handling charges). For information about these charges, please contact your customs expeditor or logistics provider.

National taxes

In addition to European taxes, there are also national taxes. Think of excise duties on the import of excise goods. For example, you pay Dutch excise duty if you import beer or wine into the Netherlands from EU countries or third countries. If you import passenger cars or motorcycles from within or outside the EU, you pay private vehicle and motorcycle tax (belastingen op personenauto's en motorrijwielen, bpm). You also have to pay VAT on import if you import products.

If you have an Article 23 permit, 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 Netherlands Tax Administration.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK