Owing to the international regulations of the European Union, trade between EU countries is not considered an import/export. For products from outside the EU, importers are subject to different rules and requirements for products entering the EU market, which often vary depending on the trade agreement. There are now 36 preferential trade agreements with countries around the world. It’s easy to find up-to-date information about all these specialised agreements and about ongoing negotiations on the official website of the European Commission.
In 2019, Germany was the top country with 19.9% of imports, accounting for almost a fifth of total EU imports, whit the UK in second with 11.2% and the Netherlands with 10.2%.
This situation will clearly change with the development of Brexit in the coming years, and maybe some other countries like France and Italy will enter the ranking.
What are the requirements to become an importer in the EU?
Under customs law, anyone importing goods into the EU must be resident in the EU. You are entitled to apply for customs clearance and pay import duties. If the importer is not a natural person and plans to import more than 10 times a year, he must also have an EORI number, which he must apply for from customs before starting to trade.
Can your cargo enter the EU?
The list of prohibited or restricted goods is extensive. It includes endangered species and products made from their parts, certain literary works, and objects protected by industrial and intellectual property rights. Due to strict rules on food production, many products cannot be imported by EU countries.
To speed up the customs clearance process, customers use unique tariff codes that help identify the contents, materials and production methods of the goods as well as provide as much detail as possible about the product.
The amount to be paid in customs duties is based on the commercial value of the goods imported into the EU, which includes manufacturing, transport, insurance, etc.
How to distribute your goods to the rest of Europe?
Many products can be re-imported into the EU duty-free within 3 years. Samples and test goods can also be imported duty-free, and trade agreements between different countries also include exemptions and other benefits.
Teaming up with an experienced local logistic partner can ease the landslide of legalities that surround your imports and will protect your business.