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Transit declarations

A transit declaration is needed when goods under customs control (customs goods) have to be transported within the European Union.

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A transit declaration may be necessary for the following instances:

  • The goods should be declared not in the country of entry into the EU, but in the member state where the buyer is located. For example, goods destined for Düsseldorf in Germany are brought in through Rotterdam in the Netherlands to be transported by barge over the river Rhine, or goods for a company in Paris are shipped through the harbor of Antwerp in Belgium and then forwarded by train.
  • The goods are to be transported through the EU to Switzerland (Switzerland is not a part of the EU).
  • Goods are being transported to a bonded warehouse.
  • The goods will be subject to inward processing relief.

In all these cases, Customs wants to make sure that the goods will reach a destination where they will be declared for import, export, storage, etc. Customs wants to ensure that they can always claim all taxes that are due. For example, when goods that are being transported under a transit declaration are stolen, then Customs claims all import duties and VAT on these goods since the assumption is that the goods have been brought into free circulation, without paying taxes.

The New Computerized Transit System (NCTS) was put in place to keep track of transit goods. It works as follows. When, for example, goods have to be transported from Rotterdam to NCTS or transit declaration is made up in Rotterdam. The declaration contains data about the goods so they can be clearly identified if needed. Since the system is fully computerized and the place of destination is mentioned in the declaration, a message is sent to the customs authorities in Dusseldorf. They, therefore “expect” these goods. While in transit, the goods are accompanied by a print-out of the transit declaration. This print-out has a barcode on it, which identifies the Movement Reference Number (MRN number) under which the declaration is known in the NCTS. When the goods arrive in Dusseldorf, the customs broker or bonded warehouse ends the transit procedure by sending a message to Dutch Customs in Rotterdam, stating that the goods have reached their expected destination. The transit procedure is finalized by informing the customs broker who issued the document in Rotterdam that all obligations have been fulfilled.

A customs broker who wants to issue a transit document has to give customs a bank guarantee, so Customs can always claim duties, VAT, etc. if necessary.

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