Spain - Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation

Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.

Last published date: 2020-08-07

Import Documentation

All goods imported into the EU must be declared to the customs authorities of the respective country using the Single Administrative Document (SAD), which is the common import declaration form for all EU countries. This document is used for trade with non-EU countries and for the movement of non-EU goods within the EU.

The SAD may be presented either by:

  • Using an approved computerized system linked to Customs authorities; or
  • Lodging it with the designated Customs Office premises.

The main information to be declared includes:

  • Identifying data of the parties involved in the operation (importer, exporter, representative, etc.)  Custom approved treatment (release for free circulation, release for consumption, temporary importation, transit, etc.)
  • Identifying data of the goods (Taric code, weight, units), location and packagingInformation referring the means of transport
  • Data about country of origin, country of export and destination
  • Commercial and financial information (Incoterms, invoice value, invoice currency, exchange rate, insurance etc.)
  • List of documents associated to the SAD (Import licenses, inspection certificates, document of origin, transport document, commercial invoice, insurance documents, and, when required, special certificates of origin, sanitation, ownership, etc.

Companies doing business in the EU or companies exporting to the EU need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number (EORI) for Customs Declarations and need to apply for Authorized Economic Operator status.   An EORI number is requested from the customs authorities of the EU member state to which the company first exports.  Once an operator holds an EORI number s/he can request the Authorized Economic Operator status, which can give quicker access to certain simplified customs procedures.  Additional  information about the EORI number can be found at Economic Operator Identification and Registration

U.S. companies seeking information about general EU-wide import requirements are encouraged to check information on the EU website as well as the U.S. Commercial Service’s Commercial Guide for the European Union, including information on  specific products.  Areas covered include circular economy and plastics strategy, the EU Battery Directive, REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, RoHS (Restriction on Hazardous Substances), cosmetics regulations, phytosanitary certifications and sanitary certifications.

Spanish Requirements

While Spain does not enforce quotas on most products manufactured in the U.S., it still requires import documents, which are described below, none of which represent a trade barrier for U.S.-origin goods.

Import Authorization: (Autorización Administrativa de Importación, AAI) is used to control imports subject to quotas. Although there are no quotas against U.S. goods, this document may still be required if part of the shipment contains goods produced or manufactured in a third country. For goods of U.S.-origin, the document is used essentially for statistical purposes or national security.

Prior notice of imports: (Notificación previa de importación) is used for merchandise that circulates in the EU Customs Union Area but is controlled for statistical purposes. The importer must obtain the document and present it to the General Register.

Importers may apply for import licenses at the Register of Spain's Secretariat of Commerce or at any of its regional offices. A commercial invoice that includes freight and insurance, C.I.F. price, net and gross weight, and an invoice number must accompany the license application. Customs accepts commercial invoices by fax. The license, once granted, is normally valid for six months, but may be extended if adequately justified.

Goods shipped to a Spanish customs area without proper import licenses or declarations are usually subject to considerable delay and may run up substantial demurrage charges. Prior to making shipments, U.S. exporters should ensure that the importing party has obtained the necessary licenses. In addition, U.S. exporters should have their importer confirm with Spanish customs whether any product approvals or other special certificates will be required for the shipment to pass customs.