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.
Spanish customs values shipments at C.I.F. (cost, insurance, and freight) prices. For U.S. products, the tariff rate averages three to five percent. A registered customs agent must clear all shipments through customs. Usually, total costs to clear customs are between 20 to 30 percent of the shipment’s C.I.F. value. This estimate includes tariffs, a 21 percent Value Added Tax (VAT), plus customs agent and handling fees. Total costs are lower for goods assessed at lower VAT levels (i.e., foodstuffs).
The rules applying to products being imported into the customs territory of EU are available in the Integrated Tariff of the Community, referred to as TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté). The TARIC is also used to help determine if a license is required for a particular product.
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. The European Commission also maintains an export helpdesk with information on import restrictions of various products.
Import documentation and tariffs for agricultural products are like those of other EU countries. Some agricultural commodities such as soybeans, sunflower seeds, corn by-products and lumber are tariff free or subject to minimal tariffs. However, most of the food and agricultural products covered by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) crops like grains are subject to tariffs, tariff rate quotas, and/or variable import levies which significantly restrict access to the Spanish market.
Most customs duties and VAT are expressed as a percentage of the value of goods being declared for importation. The EU applies an internationally accepted concept of ‘customs value.’
The value of imported goods is one of the three elements of taxation that provides the basis for assessment of the customs debt, which is the technical term for the amount of duty that must be paid, the other elements being the origin of the goods, and the customs tariff.
A Customs Info Database link is available to is available on trade.gov (free registration required) to estimate duties and taxes.
For information on EU regulations on imports, please refer to Doing Business in the European Union: Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies.