EU Import Guide
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Are you looking to export products to the European Union? Do you want to tap into the EU market to achieve growth?
The EU is an attractive market for merchants to expand their business as many countries within the region have significant buying power and expanding needs and wants for products outside the bloc.
But there are some essential points to educate yourself on regarding EU import procedures before launching sales. So we’ve put together this comprehensive overview of importing into the European Union. For full and technical details, read our knowledge base article here.
Tax Consideration Categories
You’ll need to start by figuring out your tax bracket, which can be a little complicated. There are four main VAT categories for importing goods into the EU.
Category 1: Standard rates
Value-added tax (VAT) rates on goods and services brought into a European Union member state must be at least 15%.
So, the proper VAT amount for most shipments made through FlavorCloud will be the standard rate for goods and services.
The usual value-added tax rate starts at 15% but can go up to 100%, and each EU member can set its rates.
Category 2: Reduced rates
Agricultural items, energy supplies, and some prescribed drugs may qualify for reduced rates. Other goods like foodstuffs, cultural services, newspapers, magazines, and books may be eligible too. But the reduced rate may only work for limited shipments.
Reduced VAT rates can’t be lower than 5% for any EU member.
This reduced rate does not apply to electronically-supplied services.
Is your shipment subject to Reduced Rates? You can confirm using the European Commission’s VAT Search tool.
Category 3: Super Reduced Rate
As of April 5, 2022, EU members can use Super Reduced Rates of less than 5% on a small number of imported goods and services. Also, the change allows for a VAT-free system for selected products and services.
These items qualify for Super Reduced Rate or zero-rate:
- Solar panel supply and installation
- Food and water
- Medical equipment
- Certain feminine hygiene items
- Transportation (including luggage, bicycles, and cars)
Annex III of the EU VAT Directive only lists seven Super Reduced Rate goods.
Category 4: Parking rate
Some EU nations impose what is known as a “Parking Rate” or “Intermediary Rate.” It applies to products and services not listed in Annex III of the VAT Directive.
This means that EU countries may charge less value-added tax on these imports. But they must still total no less than 12%.
The actual VAT rate within the EU varies. It depends on the following:
- The origin country of the imported item (as indicated by its HTS/CN code)
- The destination country (as determined by its import tariff)
- The time of importation
Admissibility (OGA/PGA) Background
Before importing a product, you must get the required licenses and permits. Certificates, inspections, product/business registration, and labeling are also required. “Other Governmental Agency” (OGA) or “Partner Governmental Agency” (PGA) criteria are legal terms.
What you can import depends on the commodity (HTS/CN code), country of origin, country of import, and time of import. All these can change without warning.
Regularly checking and validating requirements prevents import delays. It also ensures all administrative procedures are complete before dispatching a shipment.
You can only import some things after meeting specific requirements. Infractions can result in heavy taxes, delays, and storage fees.
Before sending orders, FlavorCloud recommends merchants examine sub-EU import requirements. They can do this with a commodity and country-specific expert.
Admissibility (OGA/PGA) Resources
The EU has different import limits and restrictions. These “prohibitions” depend on the commodity, its place of origin, and the time of import.
The EU’s import rules are in the Taxation and Customs Union TARIC Consultation database. The European Commission runs the database.
You can look at the Integrated EU P&R List from the European Commission to find out about shipping rules. This list combines EU laws and regulations.
Even though these resources aren’t extensive or enforceable by law and come with a lengthy disclaimer, we still encourage you to use them as a guide.
After that, you can double-check at the sub-EU national level with an expert on the product and country.
EU–Prohibited & Restricted Commodities for FlavorCloud Merchants
The EU has different rules about what products can be imported into the region. Again, this depends on what the goods are, where they come from, and when they arrive.
Product Compliance and Serious Risks
The regulations and processes outlined in EU Market Surveillance Act address the following:
- Health and safety
- Consumer and environmental safeguards
- Public security and interest considerations
These procedures ensure that non-food goods do not harm EU consumers or workers.
All non-EU organic imports need an inspection certificate. Before letting products move around the EU, customs will ensure the certificate is still valid.
The EU has trade agreements with Chile, Switzerland, and the UK. These agreements say dictate how an organic labeled product will be inspected.
The EU gets “similar” organic goods from several countries. They are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Japan, Tunisia, South Korea, New Zealand, and the US. Their governments check and certify organic products because their control methods are “similar” to EU rules.
As for other countries, it varies. Non-government national control authorities or agencies do inspections and certifications.
Any medicine for people must be approved at the national or EU level before it can be sold in the European Union. Check out the European Commission’s Public Health resources for more details.
Many EU laws regulate the import of chemicals and chemical products as components or mixes of chemicals—and these are present in many goods.
Check out the following links for more info on importing chemicals into Europe:
European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website
Rotterdam Convention Prior Informed Consent (PIC) page
European Commission’s Ozone Depleting Chemicals repository
EU’s Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases website.
There’s a lot to get to grips with when importing to the EU, but the opportunity is certainly worth it! Read our detailed EU import guide in our knowledge base here, and begin realizing international growth in the EU with FlavorCloud today.
Subscribe to Blog Posts
We'll send you an email when new blog articles are posted.