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Practical Handbook VAT 2022

C) Concept of imports of goods

Imports are subject to VAT irrespective of the purpose for which they are intended and the status of the importer.

The following are considered as imports:

  1. The entry into the country of a good which does not fulfil the conditions of Articles 9 and 10 of the Treaty establishing the EEC (now Articles 23 and 24 of the Treaty establishing the European Community) or, in the case of a good falling within the scope of the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, which is not in free circulation.

  2. The entry into the country of goods coming from a third country, other than the goods referred to in the preceding paragraph.

Notwithstanding, when upon entry into the territory of application of the tax, and complying with the legislation, a good is placed in a free zone or in a free warehouse or other warehouse, or where a customs and fiscal procedure applies (except for a non-customs warehousing procedure), importation shall take place when the goods leave these areas or procedures unless an export or intra-EU shipment is made.

They are handled as imports equivalent to the following:

  1. Vessels which have been exempted from VAT on account of their involvement in international maritime navigation or rescue, maritime assistance or coastal fishing and do not comply with the requirements for exemption.

  2. Aircraft which have been exempted from VAT for essential international air navigation and do not fulfil the requirements for exemption.

  3. Acquisitions made in the territory of application of the tax of goods whose previous supply, intra-Community acquisition or importation had benefited from exemption from VAT under diplomatic or consular arrangements or international organisations.

    However, the preceding subparagraph shall not apply where the person acquiring the goods dispatches or transports them immediately and definitively out of the territory of the Community.

  4. The exit from free zones, free warehouses and other warehouses, or the abandonment from the customs or fiscal systems, of goods whose intra-EU shipment or acquisition to enter these systems would have benefited from the exemption, or goods which have been the subject of exempt shipments or the supply of services.In these cases, neither shall the exit of goods from these areas or abandonment of any of the aforementioned systems when the goods are the subject of an export or an exempt intra-EC shipment be considered as an operation equivalent to an importation.