EU Import Duties
The EU is a customs union which means that 28 Member State customs administrations implement the Union Customs Code. These common rules cover all aspects of trade with third countries. All the Member States apply the same tariff on goods imported from outside the EU. The import duty rate is determined by the classification of a good in the EU Tariff Schedule (last update published in Official Journal L 294 – Oct. 28, 2016) and by the customs value.
For the customs classification of goods, the EU uses the Combined Nomenclature (CN) established by Council Regulation 2658/87. This eight-digit coding system is based on the Harmonized System (HS) which is also the basis for the import and export codes used by the U.S. The first six digits refer to the HS-headings, the following two digits represent the CN subheadings. The CN 8-digit coding system is structured as follows:
- HS Chapter – 2 digits, e.g. “Chapter 18 Cocoa and Cocoa Preparations”
- HS Heading – 4 digits, e.g. “1806 chocolate and other food preparations containing cocoa”
- HS Subheading – 6 digits, e.g. “1806 10 cocoa powder, containing added sugar or sweetening matter”
- CN Subheading – 8 digits, e.g. “1806 10 15 cocoa powder containing no sucrose or less than 5% by weight of sucrose”
“TARIC” is the acronym for the “Integrated Tariff of the European Communities” and was introduced at the same time as the CN coding system. The codes used are a further breakdown of the CN codes to the 10-digit level. The TARIC contains information on tariff quotas, all third country and preferential duty rates, tariff suspensions and other trade measures. TARIC does not have the status of a legal instrument but its 10-digit codes must be used in customs declarations. The EU’s online customs database can be consulted to look up commodity codes and relevant import duties. Agricultural, food and fishery products are listed under chapters 1 to 24.
In general, import tariffs applied to goods imported into the EU are ad valorem tariffs calculated as a percentage of the product’s value. However, processed products are subject to additional duties based on the percentage of sugar, milk fat, milk protein and starch in the product. Commission Regulation 900/2008 lays down analytical methods and other technical provisions to calculate the starch/glucose and sucrose/invert sugar/isoglucose content in processed products. These calculations are used to determine the additional duties on flour and sugar in processed products. Fruits and vegetables are subject to seasonal duties (entry price system). Title IV, Chapter I of Commission Regulation 543/2011 sets out rules for importing fruits and vegetables into the EU.