E-commerce – check how VAT changes affect your e-commerce affairs

If you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur supplying goods from outside the EU to consumers located within the EU, new VAT rules will apply to you from 1 July 2021 onwards.

The VAT exemption when importing shipments to a maximum value of EUR 22 will be abolished. For shipments to a value of no more than EUR 150 exempt from customs duties under Articles 23 or 25 of Regulation (EC) 1186/2009, you will have to file an import declaration and pay VAT in the country of destination. Should you opt to have the Import scheme apply, simplified VAT declarations are possible.

Should you opt to have the Import scheme apply, you must register in the country where you or your representative is established.

Should you have the Import scheme apply, you will be provided with an Import scheme number. You must state this number when filing your Customs declarations using DECO. More information is available under E-commerce – filing Customs declarations.

The Import scheme

Should you sell goods originating from other non-EU countries to consumers who do not file VAT declarations, starting 1 July 2021, you must declare the VAT in the Member State of destination. This applies, for example, if you directly supply products from China to consumers in Germany. Using the Import scheme under the One-Stop-Shop System, declarations can be filed in one central spot, in a simplified manner.

Do you wish to apply the Import scheme? Registrations are open from April 2021

Do you want to use the Import scheme? Then you can only apply for registration in the Netherlands through an intermediary established in the Netherlands. Such an intermediary is, for example, a tax advisor established in the Netherlands. You can choose one intermediary. Do you have a permanent establishment in the Netherlands? If so, we will consider you a Dutch entrepreneur. In that case, go to douane.nl/e-commerce.

How to apply the Import scheme

You can have the Import scheme apply to so-called distance sales only. This means you must meet the following conditions:

  • You supply goods from non-EU countries – to a consumer in another EU country.
  • You supply goods directly to consumers not declaring VAT. This concerns all private individuals.
  • The Import scheme applies to shipments not exceeding EU 150. If the invoice lists insurance and shipment costs, these do not count towards the maximum. A shipment can be comprised of one parcel containing multiple goods. You use 1 transport document, such as an airway bill, for each shipment.
  • You cannot make use of this scheme for goods excise duty is due over, such as beer, wine, and tobacco products.
  • You cannot make use of this scheme for goods subject to prohibitions and restrictions, such as meat products or ivory.
  • You ship the products yourself.

When applying the Import scheme, you file one declaration for all such shipments each month and pay for all of them in one go. When applying the Import scheme, you do not have to pay VAT when importing the goods.

I am unable to apply the Import scheme

Should you be unable to apply the Import scheme, for example because the value of your shipment exceeds EUR 150, you must pay the VAT in the country the shipment is imported in.

I do not wish to apply the Import scheme

Should you not wish to apply the Import scheme, you will have to pay the VAT in the country your shipment is shipped to.

Changes for customs brokers, postal services and courier services

Should you file declarations for a customer who opted to have the Import scheme apply, you must adapt your declarations process. When your customer applies the Import scheme, they will be provided with an Import scheme number. You will have to state this number when filing the Customs import declaration, including it in your DECO data set.

Should your customer choose not to apply the Import scheme, you may opt to have the 'Special Arrangement' apply. When doing so, you file an import declaration for each shipment and make one payment to Customs per month (in arrears). You do not need to separately register with the Tax and Customs Administration to apply this arrangement.

Should a consumer not pay VAT, for example because they refuse to accept a shipment, you can claim back the VAT from the tax or customs authorities of the country the shipment was shipped to. Certain conditions apply.

You will need an ‘Electronic Messaging Registration’ to file your customs declaration. Should you not possess a registration yet, you can apply for one with Customs. More information on the customs declaration is available under E-commerce – filing customs declarations.