New form of customs declaration for low value consignments to be used from 1st January 2021

Pursuant to the Union Customs Code (“UCC“), customs declarations may, in specific cases, be lodged using means other than electronic-data processing techniques

Most goods with an intrinsic value not exceeding EUR 22 may be granted an exemption from VAT by the Member States pursuant to Article 23 of Council Directive 2009/132/EC. Those goods may also benefit from a relief from customs duty pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009. Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446 (“UCC Delegation Regulation“) provides that these goods may temporarily be declared by simply presenting them to customs instead than by lodging a customs declaration.

Currently, the possibility to declare goods with a value not exceeding EUR 22 by presenting them to customs is limited to the period before Member States upgrade their National Import Systems.

Moreover, as from 1 January 2021, the VAT exemption for goods with a value not exceeding EUR 22 will be abolished. As a result, in the Member States that upgrade their National Import Systems before 1 January 2021, the possibility of declaring those goods by presenting them to customs would be removed and a customs declaration would be required even if there is no obligation to collect VAT on those goods and a relief from customs duty applies.

Considering the enormous volume of low-value consignments imported into the EU, neither declarants nor customs IT systems can handle the production and processing of a standard customs declaration per consignment and in any event a standard customs declaration is not necessary in most of the cases because there is no customs liability for goods of a value below 150€.

Therefore, by Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1143 of 14 March 2019, the Commission has amended the UCC Delegated Regulation to provide for a lower, more manageable but still adequate level of data (a “reduced dataset“) in customs declarations on imports of low-value consignments, and namely Annex B to UCC Delegated Regulation which defines the data requirements for customs declarations.  That possibility will be available from the date of application of the measures for levying VAT on goods imported in consignments with an intrinsic value not exceeding EUR 150 set out in Directive (EU) 2017/2455.

Thus, the reduced dataset is conceived namely for the cases in which VAT has already been declared in accordance with the special scheme for distance sales of goods imported from third countries or third territories in accordance with Directive 2006/112/EC and so there is no need to collect VAT at importation; the reduced dataset is also conceived for the cases in which the Member State of importation is also the Member State of consumption for VAT purposes and therefore the Member State levying VAT.

However, the possibility to declare low-value consignments using the reduced dataset should not be available for goods subject to prohibitions or restrictions which will continue to be declared using a standard customs declaration with all the relevant information.

The reduced dataset should not be used either to declare goods that are exempt from VAT on importation in cases of customs procedure codes 42 and 63. In fact, goods imported under customs procedure codes 42 and 63 are imported in a Member State different from the Member State that will levy VAT and the reduced dataset does not contain enough information to comply with all the VAT-related requirements applicable in those cases.

The amended UCC Delegated Regulation will enter into force on 25 July 2019, however simplified declarations will not be used before 1 January 2021.