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Import customs procedures in European Union Countries

Customs threshold (De Minimis Value)

From July 1, 2021, VAT will be charged on all commercial goods imported into the EU, regardless of value.  Customs duty is payable when the value of the imported goods (CIF value) is over EUR 150.

Standard VAT rate :

For most goods and services:

Belgium: 21%

Denmark: 25%

Germany: 19%

Spain: 21%

France: 20%

Italy: 22%

Netherlands: 21%

Please refer to this link for more information.

Method of Calculation of Duties:

Customs duties are calculated on the CIF value.

Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products):

Duties range from 0-17%, with the general tariff averaging 4.2%. However, foodstuffs, textiles and clothing still experience some protection measures (quotas, higher tariffs, etc.). Some imports are subject to anti-dumping duties.

For HS code specific duty, please check Europe TARIC Consultation

Products Having a Higher Customs Tariff

The sectors of fabrics and items of clothing (high duties and quotas) and foodstuffs (preferential treatment and many tariff quotas, CAP) still experience protection measures. According to the recently published 2019 EU Trade Policy Review (WTO), the sector with the highest average tariffs is the dairy sector (32.3%), followed by sugar and confectionery (27.0%), meat (19.0%), cereals and preparations (17.2%) and fruit and vegetables (13.0%). Concerning non-agricultural products, fish and fishery products (11.8% on simple average) and clothing (11.6%) are the sectors with the highest tariff protection.

Method of Payment of Custom Duties

Recipient can pay duty and tax  by credit card, check or cash to the appointed carrier. Please follow the instruction provided by the Carrier.

For consignments with a value of €150 or below, this can either be charged at the time of the sale by using the new Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), or be collected from the shipper with Delivery Duty Prepaid (DDP) term.  

Specific Import Procedures

Identification Number (EORI number)

For every formal customs declaration the identification number of the importer is mandatory. The identification number used in the European Union is called the EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification System). The German version of the EORI number based on the old German customs number.

Every declaration without the EORI number of the importer will be rejected by customs if the importer is a company or a regular importer. 

Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS)

For e-commerce consignments of €150 or below (CIF value), the EU introduced an optional Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) to clear goods through customs. The Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) was created to facilitate and simplify the declaration and payment of VAT for goods sold from a distance by sellers from either the EU or from a non-EU country or territory.  It also means marketplaces will be responsible for charging and collecting VAT, acting as the deemed supplier for low-value consignments.

Seller and marketplace registered in the IOSS will pay the VAT collected on a sale to a consumer/shopper in an EU Member State. The VAT rate is the one applicable in the EU Member State where the goods are to be delivered. 

Shipper will then need to provide their IOSS number to the selected Carrier.

Declaration of Conformity (CE marking)
The European Community require certain standards on product safety for certain types of goods. The range of products covered by the directives must comply with the applicable directives when it is placed on the community market for the first time or put into use.

These commodities are everything with CE marking, like:

  • toys
  • electronic equipment
  • radio & telecommunication equipment
  • medical devices
  • sunglasses
  • chemical substances
  • measuring devices
  • pressure equipment
  • pyrotechnic articles

Exceptions are shipments to private individuals with no CE checking.

The Declaration of Conformity (DoC) is a document in which the manufacturer, or his authorized representative within the EU, indicates that the product meets all the necessary requirements of the directives applicable for the specific product.

Spot checks are carried out. If Customs finds goods without CE marking, the considered goods are seized until further decision is met. 

Commodity Specific Stipulations


Spaceship recommend to ship non-commercial shipments / gift shipments ( purchased by private individuals for private consumption) in accordance to below principles:

  • State the purpose of gift clearly ( e.g Chinese New Year gift)
  • Send from an individual person to an individual person
  • Appropriately package and indicate each type of animal product, quantity/ weight, the country or territory of origin and manufacturer 
  • Dried seafood and seafood products (with intestines and organs removed) - max. 2KG per shipment

Below are some examples of food not accepted by Spaceship:

  1. Frozen food
  2. Meat or meat product 
  3. Chinese, Milk or milk-based products, except powdered infant milk, infant food or special food (including pet food) needed for medical reasons
  4. Egg or food with egg  ( except for sweets and chocolates )
  5. Live animals
  6. Raw food 
  7. Endangered species 
  8. Bird's nest
  9. Ginseng 
  10. Perishable goods
  11. Seeds 
  12. Plant with soil
  13. Potatoes
  14. Honey
  15.  Chilli and chilli products
  16. Curcuma
  17. Curry Powder
  18. Palm oil
  19. Turmeric

All food should be appropriately packaged and labelled, indicating the nature, ingredients, quantity/ weight, the country or territory of origin and manufacturer.

Any non-compliant shipment must be returned at shippers expense immediately.

Any foodstuff sent as samples for testing purposes or commercial purpose, can only be imported without a relevant permit/license from the official authority. The permit/license must be sent to Spaceship and let us verify it before shipping.  Delays and additional charges for food inspection at customs may be incurred. 


Food Supplements

Customs classifies certain food supplements as medicine, especially vitamins with higher dosage than twice the recommended daily allowance and other products with physiological effects.

Private individuals cannot import medicine without an import license.

Food supplements shipped without an Import License will be returned to the shipper or destroyed under customs control. 



Tea from China

According to EU regulation 2009/669/EC, tea from China is subject to increased level of official controls due to contamination risks of these products by aflatoxinson and pathogens. These controls are carried out at Designated Point of Entries (DPE) defined by each member state.


Alcoholic Beverages and Wine

It is important to note that most courier companies do not ship alcohol internationally. Each courier has specific rules and requirements for different shipments and services, so we recommend checking this further with us


Exhibition Goods

Goods which are destined for an exhibition may be subject to duty & tax.  It is solely the decision of customs if import charges must be paid. Hence, shipments for exhibitions - which are normally time sensitive - should preferably ship with Express Carriers with Delivery Duty Prepaid (DDP) term in order to avoid possible delays in delivery due to payment issues in the destination country or territory. 

Furthermore, shippers should ensure that  the name of a contact person and a valid phone/mobile phone number so that Brokerage in the destination country or territory can get in contact with the consignee of the goods in oder to agree on the clearance procedure



The invoice must include a description of the part, the machine for which the part will be used, and a list of the part's components



In order to avoid wrong customs declarations at import, it is mandatory that the exporter provide very detailed information about the shoes (for example, what kind of leather, what material used for soles and uppers, what kind of shoes (sport shoes, sandals, boots), who is to wear the shoes (children, women, men).


Smoked Salmon

A Health Certificate from the country or territory of origin must accompany shipments of smoked salmon. For U.S. shippers, obtain a Health Certificate by calling the Fish and Wildlife Department at 1-800-358-2104



If the customs authorities doubt the correctness of the declared country or territory of origin they may request an additional proof which might be a certificate of origin.


USB Sticks

Data shipments require a description with the character of the USB stick (storing inter-company data) and the value of the USB Stick


Last Updated On : 10, Aug 2022

Disclaimer: Information provided by Spaceship is provided as is, may not be current, and does not constitute legal advice. In no event shall Spaceship be liable for any errors in the information, forms or features made available by Spaceship, or by any third party site linked to from Spaceship. Selection and completion of proper declaration for any given shipment is the sole responsibility of the shipper. All shipments are subject to the Spaceship Terms.