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Customs clearance

If you import goods from a country outside the EU, these goods must be declared to Customs. Usually you pay import duties and sometimes other customs regulations apply. Extra duties may be levied if goods are not safe or environmentally polluting, or have an impact on the economy or health.

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A so-called EORI number is required for the customs declaration. The EORI number is an identification number for the exchange of data with Customs. EORI stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification.

B/L – Bill of Lading

A number of documents are required for the customs declaration. The first document is the original Bill of Lading (B / L). This is a document that The Freight Hero agent has received from your supplier at the port of discharge. It shows that the shipping company has received the goods for transport in order to deliver them at the port of destination to the one you have indicated. It is actually a refutation of the transport contract (bill of lading) and represents the goods. Legally the B / L has the meaning of a security that can also be traded.

Express-Release B/L

An Express Release B/L means that no original B/L has been made and the recipient can dispose of the goods directly.

Telex-Release B/L

The Telex Release B/L is a document that releases the goods that are on the B/L. It is a release from the supplier / manufacturer (shipper) to The Freight Hero agent in the port of discharge. With the Telex-Release B/L you can dispose of the goods without the original B/L. The Telex-Release B/L can be sent by email, so that the customs declaration can be done (faster) without having to send the original B/L by post to the Customs.

How is the import levy determined?

The customs value of the goods to be imported determines the amount of tax to be paid. The customs value is based on the sales that took place immediately before the goods were brought into the customs territory of the European Union (EU), plus the cost of transport and the cost of the transport insurance. The customs value of goods is the same in all EU countries. However, turnover tax (VAT) or excise duties may vary from one EU country to another. Whether you import goods into the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, the import duties payable are the same throughout the EU. All tariffs are listed in the Market Access Database.

How much are the import duties?

The amount of the import duties depends on the products you import and the country where the goods come from. Do you want to know which rate of import duty applies? Consult the Market Access Database of the European Union.

Commodity code

A Goods Code is required for the customs declaration. With this code customs determines whether you pay the correct import tax and whether you pay the correct VAT rate. Customs also uses the commodity code to see if an import permit is required. For the declaration of goods, all EU countries use the same commodity codes. The goods code can be found in the Market Access Database, where you will also find:

  • a description of the goods
  • the duties and / or other import taxes that you have to pay
  • any special obligations that you must take into account when importing


The World Customs Organization (WCO) developed a 6-digit HS code for various categories of goods. Some goods, however, fell under the same HS code. To distinguish these goods more, the EU has:

  • HS code expanded with 2 digits to be able to link certain export measures to it. This 8-digit code (HS + 2) is also called combined nomenclature (CN Code) and is therefore related to export.
  • In order to link import measures, the EU has added another 2 digits to the CN code, which ultimately received the definition TARIC code.

This results in:

  • HS-CODE: basic world standard of 6 digits
  • CN-CODE: HS code of 8 digits export-related
  • TARIC CODE: CN code of 10 digits: related import and export rules

The first two digits are called 'HS chapters', the first four digits are called 'HS headings' and in six digits 'subheadings' are introduced (HS subheading, CN subheading and Taric subheading).

Example: HS code 010.111 =

  • Chapter 01: Live animals
  • Heading 0101: Live animals - Horses, donkeys, mules and mules
  • Subheading 010111: Live animals - Horses, donkeys, mules and mules - Purebred

Customs declaration system

The import declaration via The Freight Hero is fully automated and takes place within a few minutes. The declaration is submitted at the moment the goods are delivered to the port of destination. The location is also mentioned in the declaration. Usually the customs clearance can already be prepared prior to delivery, so that the declaration can be sent immediately upon delivery.

Status: White

Non-risk declarations are processed immediately and are given the status 'white'. Each declaration is assessed on the basis of a selection profile. White handled declarations are immediately available for the importer and can be picked up. You will then receive a so-called 'Consent to Disposal', whereby the status of the goods changes from customs goods to free goods. You will also receive a Finished Verification on which the (possible) import duties and VAT amounts are stated.

Status: Orange

An import declaration can also be given the color 'orange'. The claimant must then make the invoice and other documents belonging to a declaration available to the customs. The Customs then checks whether the declaration is correct or can order further investigation. If the customs have comments, she can correct the declaration. If everything is allright, the 'Consent to Disposal' and the 'Finished Verification' will follow: The declaration has been completed and you can dispose of the goods.

Status: Red

If the customs decides that the goods must be physically checked, this means that the declaration is given the status Red. The customs will then go to the customs warehouse to check the goods physically on the spot. After the physical check, the goods are released or not.