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Legislation and regulations for import

As an entrepreneur you must take into account many laws and regulations. If you do business internationally, necessary obligations applies. To make it even more difficult, the rules per country can vary considerably, especially if you do business outside the EU.

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Customs via The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany

The Netherlands, Belgium and Germandy are pre-eminent distribution countries. Every day, millions of goods are imported, forwarded and exported for the whole of Europe. Thats why The Freight Hero is based in The Netherlands and Germany. In order to ensure that the products that are transported in the EU comply with the laws and regulations, we have the customs. It takes into account the European (Community Customs Act - CDW) and Dutch, Belgian or German (General Customs Act) legislation.

Customs actually has three main tasks:

  1. Monitoring function of the import and export of goods
  2. Determining and collecting taxes
  3. Stop function

Monitoring function

Goods that are imported, tranfered or exported must comply with European legislation in the field of Safety, Health, Economy and Environment. Goods that are transported within the EU are in principle free of customs control, but when importing goods from countries outside the EU, an import declaration must be made. The goods are then released for free circulation and become intra-community goods. Customs also plays a role in the export of goods. For example, it must check whether the goods comply with the rules, make an export declaration and check whether the goods actually leave the EU.

Determining and collecting taxes

If goods are imported from outside the EU, taxes and other charges, such as import duties, have to be paid. The amount of import duties you have to pay depends on the customs value, the type of goods and the country of origin. The customs value is a sum of the purchase price, shipping costs and insurance premium up to the border of Europe. In addition, customs also ensure the collection of excise duties and consumption taxes.

Stop function

Some products may not enter the EU, such as certain plant and grass species, when certain certificates or permits for this species are not available. Customs ensure that these are stopped at the border. The export of certain goods, such as weapons and ammunition, is only permitted with special permits. This all will be checked or maybe stopped by customs.

Outsource customs declaration

Approximately 90 percent of the entrepreneurs outsource all paper and declaration work for customs to a forwarding agent. Nevertheless, as an entrepreneur you are responsible for the product. But, it saves you a lot of effort. You must submit a commercial invoice to the freight forwarder and clearly describe what kind of goods you want to import or export (HS code). As an importer, you remain responsible for the correct payment of import duties.

Import within the EU

Goods traded within the EU (import or export) are called intra-Community goods. These are free of customs control, but still have to comply with the necessary permits and product requirements. For example, if you export meat to Germany, you will be faced with health certificates and quality marks. Laws and rules can therefore never be applied one-to-one, but very much dependent on a number of factors. It is imperative that you immerse yourself in the rules, because otherwise you can get into trouble.

Dutch import legislation

If you import to the Netherlands, you must of course take into account the Dutch legislation. The rules concerning most consumer items, foods and foodstuffs are laid down in the Commodities Act. The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority monitors compliance with the rules.

Certificates and quality marks

Within and outside the EU, your product often has to meet quality standards. Which ones, depends on the type of product you want to sell. An important quality mark within the EU is, for example, the CE mark.

CE mark

Many technical products must bear a CE mark. CE stands for Conformité Européenne. A CE mark is not a guarantee or quality mark, but indicates that the product meets the minimum requirements in terms of the environment, health and safety. You must affix a CE marking as an entrepreneur to products that fall under the New Approach Directives. In the meantime, an NAR has been adopted for more than twenty product groups. This includes products such as electromagnetic products, cosmetics, machines, medical devices, playground equipment, telecommunications equipment and packaging.

Taric code

If you import goods from a country outside the EU, please state the commodity code for your product at the customs declaration. This is also called the Taric code. Based on this code and the country where your goods come from, customs will calculate the amount (percentage) of import duties.

Import duties

Import duties are calculated on the customs value of the product. This is a sum of:

  • purchase price
  • shipping costs
  • insurance premium up to the border of Europe

Form A

For countries with which the EU has concluded trade agreements, use a Form A Document or use the REX system. With this form or REX registration you get a discount or even exemption from import duties. Example countries are Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Myanmar (Burma), Ukraine, Peru and Vietnam.

No import duties

You do not have to pay import duties if:

  • your product comes from another EU country
  • your product is made in a country with which the EU has a trade agreement (Form A or REX registration needed)
  • your product is a raw material or semi-manufactured product with a shortage within the EU

EU and EEA countries

The following countries are part of the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The following countries are part of the EEA: All EU countries and Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. Note: Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, many EU rules apply here.

Customs control

In general, all data control of the customs is digitally processed. In one per cent of the cases the customs want to check a cargo of goods physically.


Before you order an entire shipment of a product, you often want to see a sample first. Such a sample is not intended for sale. You must therefore be able to prove to the customs that this sample has no economic value, otherwise you also have to pay import duties. Make sure that it is clear on the packaging that it is a sample or make it unsaleable.