Commission waives customs duties and VAT on the import of medical equipment from non-EU countries
The European Commission has published a decision helping Member States affected by the coronavirus pandemic to temporarily suspend customs duties and VAT on protective equipment, testing kits or medical devices such as ventilators. This will make it easier financially to get the medical equipment that doctors, nurses and patients desperately need. The measure will apply for a period of six months, with a possibility for further extension.
On 20 March, the European Commission invited all Member States, as well as the UK, to formally request lifting customs duties and VAT on imports of necessary medical equipment during the crisis. All Member States and the UK have done so. The Commission has swiftly approved requests received from all Member States and the UK. The need to fight COVID-19 and protect the health of Europeans justifies swift action.
An indicative list of goods falling under the Commission decision is available here.
Current EU legislation has exceptional tools available in order to help victims of disasters, which can be used to face the unprecedented health crisis caused by coronavirus.
EU customs legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009) provides for the possibility to grant duty relief for the “benefit of disaster victims”. It can be applied to imports by State organisations or approved charitable or philanthropic organisations. To grant relief, a decision from the Commission is required, acting at the request of the Member States concerned.
Similarly, EU VAT law (Council Directive 2009/132/EC) has mirroring provisions as regards exemption from VAT on the final importation of certain goods.
The Commission decision will be applicable from 30 January 2020 until 31 July 2020. On 23 July 2020, the European Commission decided to prolong the temporary relief for customs duties and VAT on the import of medical devices and protective equipment from third countries until 31 October 2020. This allows imports carried out during the incipient phase of the outbreak to also benefit from the exemption.
The duty and VAT free importation applies to:
- state organisations (state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law including hospitals, governmental organisations, communes/towns, regional governments, etc.)
- charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities of the Member States
For more information
- Commission Decision on relief from import duties and VAT exemption on importation granted for goods needed to combat the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak during 2020
- Commission Decision of 23.7.2020 amending Decision (EU) 2020/491 on relief from import duties and VAT exemption on importation granted for goods needed to combat the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak during 2020
- Commission Press Release
- Q&A on the Commission Decision
- Indicative list of goods falling under the Commission decision
- Guidance Note on the Commission Decision to Member States’ tax and customs administrations
- Guidance on customs issues related to coronavirus
- COVID-19 response - European Commission
- COVID-19 response - Taxations and Customs