Taxation and Customs Union

Union Customs Code

The Union Customs Code (UCC) is a key element of the ongoing actions to modernise EU customs. It provides a comprehensive framework for customs rules and procedures in the EU customs territory adapted to modern trade realities and modern communication tools. The Union Customs Code aims at a paperless and fully automated customs union. To achieve that objective, the Commission and the Member States have to upgrade some existing electronic systems and introduce some new ones for the completion of all customs formalities. The UCC entered into force on 1 May 2016, but some transitional arrangements still apply, most notably because not all of the electronic systems to deal with formalities are in place yet.

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New form of declaration for low-value consignments

Following an amendment to the Union Customs Code Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, from 1 January 2021, it will be possible to declare goods up to 150 € using a customs declaration that requires 3 times less data than a standard declaration. 

From 1 January 2021 the existing VAT exemption for goods up to 22 € will disappear. In order to allow levying VAT, all imports into the EU will have to be declared at the border using an electronic customs declaration. 

Considering the enormous volume of low-value consignments imported into the EU, neither declarants nor customs IT systems can handle the production and processing of a standard customs declaration per consignment. 

Therefore, the Commission has amended the UCC Delegated Regulation to provide for a lower, more manageable but still adequate level of data (a “super-reduced data set”) in customs declarations on imports of low-value consignments (those below the customs dutiable threshold of 150€). This legislation should mitigate, for both customs and traders, the impact of the sharp increase in the number of customs declarations. 

This is an important step forward and allows Member States and economic operators to go ahead with their IT developments.

The amending Delegated Regulation, entering into force on 25 July 2019, can be found here.