COVID-19 response: import duties relief and VAT exemption

Global Trade Advisory news

Member State approved organisations that import products intended for the free of charge distribution to persons affected by, at risk in or combatting the COVID-19 outbreak, are granted with an import duty relief and VAT exemption for the period running from 30 January until 31 July 2020.

On 3 April 2020, the European Commission adopted Commission Decision (EU) 2020/491 on the relief of duties and VAT exemption on imports, which are granted for goods needed to combat the impact brought by COVID-19 outbreak. This comes as a response to multiple Member State requests over the past weeks.

After the COVID-19 outbreak was officially recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the European Commission found that the extreme challenges brought by COVID-19 constitute a ‘disaster’ as defined by Section C of Chapter XVII of Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 and Chapter 4 of Title VIII of Directive 2009/132/EC. In such a situation, the EU’s Customs legislation provides for the possibility to grant duty relief for imports by State organisations or approved (charitable) organisations.

The Commission Decision therefore enables an import duties relief and VAT exemption if the goods are imported by State organisations, public bodies or Member State approved organisations, and thereafter delivered (free of charge) to persons affected, at risk or involved in combatting the COVID19 outbreak.

All Member States have to inform the European Commission of the nature and quantities of goods imported free of duties and VAT as per this Decision. They should also provide a list of organisations approved by the competent authorities within their territories.

The import duties relief and VAT suspension are applicable upon the import of goods, made from 30 January 2020 until 31 July 2020 and meeting the above criteria. Consequently, a refund of duties and VAT can be claimed retroactively. Furthermore, the situation will be reviewed before 31 July 2020 and may be extended as required. 

Deloitte’s Global Trade Advisory Team remains readily available to advise on the matter

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