All goods under customs control imported into the EU’s customs territory must be submitted to a customs authority so that it can determine their status, i.e. whether they are Community goods or non-Community goods.
Acts and formalities before customs authorities
Goods are treated by customs authorities according to the Community Customs Code and the provisions adopted at EU level or nationally to implement them. This means that goods entering the customs territory of the Community shall from the time of their entry be subject to customs supervision. Community goods declared for an export, outward processing, transit or customs warehousing procedure shall be subject to customs supervision from the time of acceptance of the customs declaration. Customs authorities may, in accordance with the conditions laid down by the provisions in force, carry out all the controls they deem necessary to ensure the correct application of customs rules and other legislation governing the entry, exit, transit, transfer and end-use of goods moving between the customs territory of the Community and third countries and the presence of goods that do not have Community status.
A person wishing to import goods into the EU or use another customs procedure (e.g. export or transit procedure) must act before customs authorities in line with the customs rules (e.g. lodging the customs declaration, presenting the goods and completing the other customs formalities in front of the customs authorities). That person may appoint a representative to act on his/her behalf. The representative must fulfil certain conditions (educational degree, state examination), in order for the General Customs Directorate to issue them authorisation for customs representation.
For non-Community goods, a summary declaration must be submitted on a special form so that the customs authorities can conduct the customs procedure. A summary declaration must be lodged before the goods are brought into the customs territory of the Community. Non-Community goods shall be assigned a customs approved treatment or use authorised for such non-Community goods. Where goods are covered by a summary declaration the related formalities must be carried out within 45 days for goods carried by sea and 20 days for goods carried otherwise than by sea. Upon the expiry of the deadline for temporary storage, the person who has temporarily kept the goods must request one of the customs-approved treatments or uses of the goods, i.e. re-exporting the goods, placing the goods under a customs procedure etc.
Customs-approved treatment or use of goods
Goods brought into the EU’s customs territory and fulfilling all the prescribed conditions may be assigned at any moment a customs-approved treatment or use regardless of its type, quality, origin or purpose. This does not prevent a prohibition or restriction justified by reasons of public morality, public order, public security, protection of the health of people, animals and plants, the protection of national wealth, historical or archaeological value, or the protection of an industrial or business secret.
Submission of a customs declaration
For a particular customs procedure, a customs declaration, as the most common form for the customs-approved treatment or use of goods, must be submitted. The declarant submits the customs declaration and the goods to the customs authorities. The declarant may submit their customs declaration in any EU state, where they will be treated equally.
The customs declaration shall be submitted in the form of a computer data exchange system, or by an act whereby the person holding the goods in their possession expresses their readiness to submit those goods to the customs procedure (the conclusive act), if such a possibility is envisaged by the EU’s regulations. A customs declaration in written form shall only be used in cases approved by the customs authorities (fallback procedure).
The customs declaration must contain all the data needed to conduct the customs procedure and be accompanied by all the documents required for the procedure for which the goods are declared.
Since 1 January 2011 all traders involved in customs transactions and international logistics must make an electronic declaration to customs providing security data on goods before these goods are brought into, or out of, the European Union. The type of security data requested from traders varies according to the means of transport and the reliability of the traders involved in the operation.
Import, export and transit procedures
A customs declaration must be submitted in electronic form, duly completed in accordance with the national rules on completing the single administrative document and computerised data exchange and other forms used in customs procedures. The customs declaration must also be accompanied by all required documents (e.g. invoice, certificate of origin, import license, transport documents).
According to the customs legislation, carriers (or their authorised representatives) are required to provide pre-arrival/departure information in a specified format for all cargo entering/exiting the EU regardless of the eventual destination of the cargo. This information is submitted in a declaration known as an “Entry/Exit Summary Declaration” (ENS/EXS) to the customs office of entry or to the customs office of exit. In import, export and transit procedures an electronic declaration is submitted in the form of a computer data exchange system (except where the declarant’s electronic system is not operational at the time of the declaration).