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EU Customs

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The European Union is a Customs Union. This means that from a customs perspective, it is one country. Fiscally, this implies that there are no customs barriers of any kind between the countries of the EU: within the EU, goods can be traded between countries without customs interference. In addition, all EU member states apply the same import duties when goods are imported from a country outside the EU. To make this work, European laws are required. Two types of European law exist:

  • Directives: these are European laws that apply directly to all citizens and businesses in the EU.
  • Regulations: these are instructions to national governments to adjust their legislation in compliance with these regulations.

The new EU Customs Code (UCC) is an example of a directive. It describes, sometimes in broad strokes, sometimes in detail, how the law works. The European Customs Tariff system, which formulates all import tariffs in detail, is another directive. Customs officers in all member states have to apply this law directly: it is not open to interpretation.

The VAT legislation in the European Union is an example of an EU regulation. The various VAT regulations give instructions to member states to adjust their laws in accordance with the regulations. This, of course, gives the member states a certain freedom in the way they formulate and implement their VAT system. This also allows room for a degree of competition between the member states. One can organize a system in a more or less consumer-friendly or business-friendly way. For outside investors and traders, this can be a reason to prefer one member state above another to do their business.

The way national customs is organized is also left to the individual member states. Therefore, each member state has a national customs organization, a national automation system, and national procedures to clear goods. Slight differences in regulations can make a big difference in operations. Also in this respect member states are in competition. However, the European Commission in Brussels is very strict in its control over the national member states. Brussels also exercises strong authority on member states that do not abide by European legislation.

The 28 EU member states and their currencies:

Austria - EUR
Belgium - EUR
Bulgaria - BGN
Croatia - HRK
Cyprus - EUR
Czech Republic - CZK
Denmark - DKK
Estonia - EUR
Finland - EUR
France - EUR
Germany - EUR
Greece - EUR
Hungary - HUF
Ireland - EUR
Italy - EUR
Latvia - EUR
Lithuania - EUR
Luxembourg - EUR
Malta - EUR
the Netherlands - EUR
Poland - PLN
Portugal - EUR
Romania - RON
Slovakia - EUR
Slovenia - EUR
Spain - EUR
Sweden - SEK
United Kingdom - GBP

Antwerp (BE)

Maco's Antwerp office is located in walking distance of the local customs office. 

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Let Maco be the information broker between your company and customs. 

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