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Entering excise goods

What are the rules regarding online purchases of alcohol, alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages and tobacco on a Belgian webshop?

What do I need to bear in mind if I buy products from an online shop as a private person?

It is so easy: choose products, order, pay, wait for the supply and enjoy!
Most people know that purchasing in Chinese or American webshops, for example, involves risks. Unexpectedly having to pay import duties and VAT when entering the European Union, on top of the price paid, is an unpleasant surprise. This has been highlighted by the media on repeated occasions.
However, you should also be careful when you purchase alcohol, alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages through a webshop!
There is no problem when any of the aforementioned products are purchased in a Belgian webshop that is part of a store established in Belgium.
Yet, problems could arise when you purchase in a webshop established in another EU Member State. Excise legislation requires the payment of Belgian excise duties, even when your seller has already paid excise duties in the Member State of dispatch.
As the beverages purchased are consumed in Belgium, a debt including excise duties, packaging levy and VAT will arise in Belgium.
Notwithstanding the free movement of goods within the EU, the aforementioned excise duties, packaging levy and VAT are in principle due in the Member State where the goods are consumed.

Check the sales and delivery conditions

Often it seems as if you place an order in a Belgian webshop or it occurs that a foreign webshop has a sales office in Belgium, while the beverages purchased are coming from another EU Member State.
It could help to read the terms and conditions, but bear in mind that they are not always correct as far as excise legislation is concerned. The watchword is: be careful and address any questions to the seller!

Alcohol and alcoholic beverages

No duties are payable in Belgium for alcohol and alcoholic beverages when you, as a private person, purchase these beverages through a webshop established in another EU member state and you transport them yourself from the other EU member state.  Of course, this situation is not common in online purchasing.
However, if the seller of the webshop in the other EU Member State transports alcohol and alcoholic beverages from another EU Member State to you, being a private person, then this will be called “distance selling”. Excise duties, packaging levy and VAT become due when the goods are supplied in Belgium.
In theory, the foreign seller who arranges the transport to you, as a private person, or his Belgian tax representative is obliged to pay the aforementioned excise duties, packaging levy and VAT. However, if these persons fail to do so, you, as the consignee, may ultimately be obliged to pay the Belgian duties.
A rather unpleasant surprise when you thought you grabbed a bargain!

Non-alcoholic beverages, tea and coffee

No duties are payable in Belgium for non-alcoholic beverages, tea and coffee when you, as a private person, purchase these beverages through a webshop established in another EU member state and you transport them yourself from the other EU member state. Of course, this situation is not common in online purchasing.
Sellers offering non-alcoholic beverages, tea or coffee in a webshop and arranging the transport to you in Belgium, must pay Belgian excise duties.
In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, pay careful attention that invoices include excise duties.

Tobacco products

In Belgium it is prohibited to purchase or sell manufactured tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, smoking tobacco, water pipe tobacco, etc.) in webshops or via web platforms.
This means that any webshop, even if it is located in an EU Member State or in a country that is not part of the EU, that sells manufactured tobacco online in Belgium, is operating illegally. You can also be punished making such purchase in Belgium.
The sale in Belgium of e-cigarettes (containing nicotine) and their refills through a webshop is also prohibited.

Check the excise duty rates

Did you know that excise duty rates can still vary in all EU Member States? Would you like to know which excise duty rate is applied in Belgium? You can find the applicable excise duty rates at www.fisconetplus.be, Fiscaliteit, Accijnzen, Administratieve richtlijnen, accijnstarieven.

(1)  The amounts that are mentioned are for information purposes only and cannot be used to establish findings if they are obsolete or incorrect.