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  • Key concepts

    Some frequently used concepts are explained on this page. Further information regarding these concepts can be found in the Union Customs Code.  

    Origin of goods: The origin of a good is the country where it was manufactured. There are two types: preferential origin and non-preferential origin.

    The non-preferential origin is, for example, important for the application of quotas, anti-dumping duties, embargoes and the country of origin marking on the product or packaging (‘made in Belgium’).

    The preferential origin is related to trade agreements concluded between the European Union and third countries or groups of countries. These trade agreements provide, among other things, more favourable import duties if specific rules on production or processing are complied with for a certain good; these are the rules of origin. 
    Customs controls means specific acts performed by the customs authorities in order to ensure compliance with the customs legislation and other legislation governing the entry, exit, transit, movement, storage and end-use of goods moved between the customs territory of the Union and countries or territories outside that territory, and the presence and movement within the customs territory of the Union of non-Union goods and goods placed under the end-use procedure. This involves, for example, checks on the accuracy and presence of documents or checks on the correspondence between the goods declared and the accompanying declaration and documents. 
    Customs formalities means all the operations which must be carried out by a person and by the customs authorities in order to comply with the customs legislation, such as the lodging of a customs declaration.
    Entry summary declaration means the act whereby a person informs the customs authorities, in the prescribed form and manner and within a specific time-limit, that goods are to be brought into the customs territory of the Union,
    Exit summary declaration means the act whereby a person informs the customs authorities, in the prescribed form and manner and within a specific time-limit, that goods are to be taken out of the customs territory of the Union,
    Temporary storage declaration means the act whereby a person indicates, in the prescribed form and manner, that goods are in temporary storage.
    Customs declaration means the act whereby a person indicates, in the prescribed form and manner, a wish to place goods under a given customs procedure, with an indication, where appropriate, of any specific arrangements to be applied. Customs declarations will be lodged electronically via PLDA. 
    Customs procedure means any of the following procedures under which goods may be placed in accordance with the Code:
    a) release for free circulation,
    b) special procedures,
    c) export.
    Temporary storage means the situation of non-Union goods temporarily stored under customs supervision in the period between their presentation to customs and their placing under a customs procedure or re-export.
    Import duty means customs duty payable on the import of goods.
    Export duty means customs duty payable on the export of goods.
    Release of goods means the act whereby the customs authorities make goods available for the purposes specified for the customs procedure under which they are placed.
    Customs supervision means action taken in general by the customs authorities with a view to ensuring that customs legislation and, where appropriate, other provisions applicable to goods subject to such action are observed.
    Commercial policy measures means non-tariff measures established, as part of the common commercial policy, in the form of Union provisions governing international trade in goods. Examples include quotas and anti-dumping duties. 
  • Customs procedures

    Goods are placed under a customs procedure via a customs declaration. 
    Goods can be placed under the following customs procedures in accordance with the Union Customs Code:
    1. release for free circulation,
    2. special procedures,
    3. export.
    The special procedures referred to, are:
    1. transit (external and internal transit),
    2. storage (customs warehousing and free zones (not in Belgium)),
    3. specific use (temporary admission and end-use),
    4.  processing (inward and outward processing).
    An authorisation issued by the customs authorities is required for:
    a) the use of inward or outward processing, temporary storage or specific use, and
    b) the operation of storage facilities for storage in a customs warehouse, except for cases where this storage facility is operated by the customs authority itself.
    What is understoord by "release for free circulation"?
    Non-Union goods intended to be put on the Union market or intended for private use or consumption shall be placed under release for free circulation.
    Release for free circulation shall entail the following:
    a) the collection of any import duty due,
    b) the collection, as appropriate, of other charges, 
    c) the application of commercial policy measures and prohibitions and restrictions, and
    d) the completion of the other formalities laid down in respect of the import of the goods.
    Release for free circulation shall confer on non-Union goods the
    customs status of Union goods. The release for free circulation includes the payment of national taxes (VAT and excise duty) and the compliance with any national instructions.
    What is understood by "special procedures"?
    The transit procedure is used for the facilitation of the movement of goods between two places in the same customs territory, through the territory of a third country, or between two or more places in different customs territories.
    Under the external transit procedure (T1), non-Union goods may be moved from one point to another within the customs territory of the Union without being subject to duties or other charges.
    Under the internal transit procedure (T2), Union goods may temporarily leave and re-enter the customs territory without any change in their customs status.
    Other types of transit procedures are Union transit (only EU countries) and the common transit procedure. The common transit procedure can be used for those countries which are contracting parties to the Common Transit Convention (EU, the EFTA countries, Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia). At the moment, the UK is not a contracting party to this convention, which means that the common transit procedure cannot be used with the UK.
    Another transit procedure is the so-called TIR system. The TIR system is an international convention, also involving countries that are not members of the European Union. The UK is one of the contracting parties, which means that, even after brexit, the TIR procedure can be used with the UK
    Customs warehouse
    Import duties, VAT and any other charges are only payable for non-Union goods that are placed under the ‘customs warehousing procedure’ as soon as they are sold and after removal from the customs warehouse. An authorisation is required for storage in a customs warehouse except in cases where the operator of the storage facility is the customs authority itself.
    Free zone
    Free zones are special enclosed areas within the customs territory. Goods placed in free zones are free of import duties, VAT and other charges. There are no free zones in Belgium at this moment.
    Specific use
    Temporary admission
    The temporary admission authorisation allows non-Union goods to be temporarily imported into the EU. During a limited period (24 months), these goods can be used in the European Union and be re-exported afterwards. A total or partial exemption from import duties will be granted and the goods will not be subjected to any other charges (such as VAT or excise duty). Furthermore, no commercial policy measures will be applied.
    The Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) procedure allows the use of goods in one or several countries or customs unions without the obligation to pay customs duties or other charges. The ATA procedure is governed by the Istanbul Convention. It remains to be seen whether the United Kingdom will adhere to this convention.
    End-use procedure
    As for certain types of end-use, the law grants a duty exemption or a reduced rate of import duty by virtue of the end-use procedure.
    Inward processing
    Under the inward processing procedure (IP), non-Union goods can be treated, processed, repaired or used within the customs territory of the European Union while import duty, VAT and/or commercial policy measures are suspended. This procedure can also be used in order to bring goods into conformity with technical requirements.
    Outward processing
    The outward processing procedure allows Union-goods to be temporarily exported so that they can be processed outside the customs territory of the EU (treated, processed or repaired). Afterwards, the processed products can be reintroduced into the European market with relief from import duties for the previously exported Union goods. 
    Cf. section ‘Export’.
  • Facilitation

    What is understood by AEO status?

    Companies holding AEO status are economic operators who meet a set of criteria defined in the Union Customs Code and who voluntarily require the AEO status. They closely collaborate with the customs authorities in order to ensure the security and safety of the international supply chain. Companies holding AEO status receive benefits both within and beyond the EU. Examples of such benefits include fewer customs control and priority treatment if selected for such control. 

    The effect of Brexit on the AEO status of companies (with an office) in the United Kingdom and whether or not any mutual recognition will be applied, remain unknown at present.   

    What is understood by authorisation for temporary storage facilities?

    Non-Union goods will be in temporary storage from the moment they are presented to customs when entering the EU. An authorisation for temporary storage facilities provides the option to store goods entering the EU customs territory for a period of maximum 90 days awaiting a further customs destination. The declarant can defer the payment of import duties and other charges for as long as the goods are placed under that procedure.  

    What is understood by transit? 

    The transit procedure entails a number of authorisations and simplifications increasing the procedure convenience. 
    - Authorised consignor authorisation: an authorised consignor may generate a transit procedure without the obligation to present the goods at the customs office of departure.  
    - Authorised consignee authorisation: an authorised consignee may receive the goods under the transit procedure at his address or at another indicated place without the obligation to present them at the customs office of destination.  
    - Electronic transport document: this simplification refers to the use of an electronic transport document as a transit declaration for air transport or maritime transport (May 2018).
    - Transit declaration with reduced data requirement (following the NCTS update).
    - Use of seals of a special type: authorisation to use seals of a special type deleting the obligation for operators to pass through customs for sealing.  

    What is understood by simplified declaration?

    Operators can place goods under a customs procedure on the basis of a simplified declaration which may omit certain of the particulars referred to in the declaration or specific supporting documents. The simplified declaration can be used within the framework of an EiDR authorisation. 
    The regular use of a simplified declaration will be subject to an authorisation.

    What is understood by centralised clearance authorisation?

    By means of a centralised clearance authorisation (CC), operators may lodge at a customs office responsible for the place where such person is established, a customs declaration for goods which are presented to customs at another customs office, even when that other customs office is located in another member state of the European Union.  The flows of the declarations and goods can be separated in this manner.  

    What is understood by authorisation for entry in the declarant’s records or EiDR?

    An authorisation for entry in the declarant’s records (EiDR) enables the lodging of a customs declaration via an entry in the declarant’s own records. 

    What is understood by authorisation for comprehensive guarantee?

    Customs authorities may require that a guarantee is provided for possible or existing customs debts. This guarantee covers the amount of import or export duties and all other related extra charges. Economic operators can request an authorisation for comprehensive guarantee covering several transactions, customs declarations or customs procedures.