Ireland has been a member of the European Union (EU) since January 1, 1973. The EU is a customs union with free trade currently among 27 Member States. Free trade is also permitted between EU member states and the four members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) through multiple agreements. Taxes such as the value-added tax (VAT) and excise taxes are levied in the country of final destination. The EU also has a common agricultural policy, joint transportation policy, and free movement of goods and capital within member states.
The EU levies a common tariff on imports coming from non-EU countries such as the United States. When products enter the EU, they need to be declared to customs according to their classification in the Combined Nomenclature (CN). The CN document is updated and published every year, and the latest version can be found on the European Commission’s website. U.S. exports to the European Union enjoy an average tariff of just three percent.
U.S. exporters should consult “The Integrated Tariff of the Community”, referred to as TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté), to identify the various rules which apply to specific products being imported into the customs territory of the EU. To determine if a license is required for a particular product, check the TARIC. The TARIC can be searched by country of origin, Harmonized System (HS) Code, and product description on the interactive website of the Directorate-General for Taxation and the Customs Union. The online TARIC is updated daily.
Ireland applies EU tariffs (customs duties) which are based on the international Harmonized System (HS) of product classification. Duty rates on manufactured goods from the United States generally range from 5-8% and are usually based on the c.i.f. value of the goods at the port of entry. The c.i.f. value is the price of the goods (usually the sales price) plus packing costs, insurance, and freight charges to the port of entry. U.S. exporters should consult ITA’s Customs Info Database tariff look-up tool to estimate duties and taxes. It is also useful to check Irish Revenue, Tax and Customs for current importing procedures.
Most raw materials enter duty free or at low rates. In accordance with EU regulations, agricultural and food items are often subject to import levies that vary depending on world market prices. The rates are based on the composition of foods and in particular some packaged foodstuffs can be affected.
Valued-added tax (VAT) is charged on the sale of goods and services within Ireland. Unlike customs duty, which is the same for all EU member countries, VAT is established by the tax authorities of each country. U.S. exporters should familiarize themselves with Irish Revenue, Customs VAT procedures.
- In Ireland, the standard VAT rate is 23%.
- At each stage of the manufacturing and distribution chain, the seller adds the appropriate amount of VAT (tax on the amount of value that the seller added to the product, plus the amount of VAT passed on to the seller by the supplier) to the sales price.
- The tax is always quoted separately on the invoice. This process repeats itself at each stage until the product is sold to the final consumer, who bears the full burden of the tax.
- Every second month, all firms based in Ireland who are registered for VAT purposes subtract the VAT paid on the purchases of goods and services from the VAT collected on sales and remit the balance to the Irish government.
- For imports into Ireland, the VAT is levied at the same rate as for domestic products or transactions. The basis on which the VAT is charged on imports is the c.i.f. value at the port of entry, plus any duty, excise taxes, levies, or other charges (excluding the VAT) collected by customs at the time of importation. This total represents the value of the import when it clears customs.
- The importer is liable for payment of customs duties, VAT, and any other charges at the time of clearing the goods through customs.
- Temporary imports that will be re-exported are not subject to the VAT. The importer may have to post a temporary bond for the amount of the customs duty and taxes as security, which will be canceled when the goods are taken out of the country.
- Digitally delivered goods and services such as software, music, film, games, and distant learning programs that are consumed within the EU are subject to VAT irrespective of whether they came from EU or non-EU based suppliers.
- Excise taxes are levied on a limited number of products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, spirits, beer, wine, bottled water, cider, tobacco, motor vehicles, and liquid petroleum gas. The excise rates vary, depending on the products. The tax is imposed whether the goods are manufactured in Ireland or imported from EU or non-EU countries.
- Duties on excise goods imported from non-EU countries may be collected at the point of importation or when the goods are subsequently removed from a bonded warehouse.
- Excise tax is in addition to any customs duty or VAT. For trade within the EU, the duties are collected in the Member State of consumption. Special arrangements operate to allow excise goods to move duty free between the Member States and to collect the duty in the country of consumption.
Firms wishing to manufacture goods subject to excise tax in Ireland must first obtain a license from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. Premises may be approved to receive and store certain excise goods without payment of duty. This approval allows the deferral of duty on goods while they are being worked on or stored. Authorization may be obtained to import goods without the payment of tax to undergo processing and re-exportation.