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GENERAL IMPORT CLEARANCE INFORMATION
Belgium Customs has¬†several ports of entry facilities in Belgium. The complete information can be found at the Customs Department web site at www.minfin.fgov.be (English available) OR http://fiscus.fgov.be.
Goods cannot be cleared before the arrival of shipping documents. Merchandise may be examined by the importer before clearance for the purpose of making an inventory. Import licenses, if required, should be presented (with the validity period for which they were issued) at the time of the customs declaration.
There are 2 primary entry processes used by customs for importing into Belgium:
- Low value clearance (for qualifying shipments below 22 euros)
- High value clearance (for shipments above 22 euros)
Low value shipments are processed by presenting a consolidated FedEx manifest (a manifest is an abbreviated listing of the cargo details for shipments moving internationally). The Air Waybill must contain the following information so that the manifest created lists all of the following data:
- Shipper's full name and address with phone number
- Consignee's full name and address with phone number
- Full and complete description of the goods
- Total quantity, unit value and currency of the goods
- Number of packages
- Total weight of the shipment
The manifest is presented to Customs for evaluation and processing for release. Barring any problems or need for clarification, the shipments are normally released. Shipments processed as low value shipments are not exempt from duty or any existing licensing requirements that must be satisfied as a condition of entry into the commerce of Belgium.
High value shipments are processed by presenting a consolidated FedEx manifest along with a formal declaration for each of the shipments listed on that manifest.
The Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice provided by the exporter must contain the following information so that the manifest and formal declaration contains all of the following data:
- Air Waybill/ Bill of lading
- Commercial Invoice or Proforma Invoice
- Along with any related import documentation required / supplied by the exporter such as:¬†
- ¬†¬† Import Licenses
- ¬†¬† Certificate of Origins (EUR1, Form A, ATR form)
- ¬†¬† Health Certificate, etc.
The FedEx Import Broker uses the data provided on the documentation to enter the required data in the import clearance system. This is then transmitted via an EDI interface to the Customs computer Paperless Customs and Excises (PLDA) system at the Customs Head Office in Brussels. The minimum information required for data entry to produce a declaration is as follows:
- Air Waybill/ Bill of Lading number
- Consignee's full name, address and phone number
- VAT/IBLC number of the consignee (delays result if not available)
- Full and complete description of the goods in the shipment
- Total quantity, unit value and currency of the goods
- Number of packages
- Total weight of the shipment
- Terms of sale of the shipment (INCOTERM)
PLDA¬†verifies if the data matches the various customs and agency entry requirements of the commodity and returns a message. If the declaration is correct, a message is sent stating it is accepted and the release declaration will be printed in the declarant's office. When a declaration is returned as incomplete the errors will be highlighted, and once corrected, the data can be submitted again for further processing.
When a declaration is returned correct,¬†PLDA adds a Customs control code to it that identifies the need for further processing and or examination.
FedEx will send a copy of this unique document to the consignee. This document is necessary for the bookkeeping of each company as proof of import into the European Union. This document maybe used by an individual as proof of import.
There are three (3) different options on the Air Waybill that the supplier / exporter can choose for the payment of duty/vat and freight charges. Depending on the agreement with the consignee, the supplier can choose bill sender, bill consignee or bill third party. It is very important that all parties fully understand who is responsible for what charges prior to the shipment being tendered for export to Belgium.
Please note: Clearance delays can be expected for all shipments requiring special processing prior to customs clearance. (Examples: CITES, Veterinary shipments, Shipments requiring licenses, etc.)
Other Import transactions handled at time of clearance:
- T1 documents (A TI cannot be issued for some excise goods)
- Shipments transiting un-cleared
- Consignee has the option of either using the FREE of charge customs clearance by FedEx or using their preferred broker.
- Diamonds and diamond powder must be cleared at the Diamond Office in Antwerp. No exceptions
- T5 document
- Mostly used for aircraft parts
- The importer may be exempt from duty and or vat when importing aircraft parts.
- This document must be submitted prior to the shipment being tendered to FedEx Belgium and the final consignee.
- The T5 is used as an extra customs control document.
- Temporary import (im5)
- THIS SERVICE IS NOT PROVIDED BY FEDEX GTS CUSTOMS BELGIUM/LUXEMBOURG
- This service is used when goods are imported for a limited time and then exported. Some goods used in trade shows (exhibitions), or goods imported for repair are examples of shipments utilizing temporary import.
- When using temporary import, the Air Waybill and invoice must clearly show Temporary Import.
- Re-import (im6)
- Shippers whose goods will be re-imported later may choose to use temporary export and upon the re-entry of the goods, use re-import service.
- The air Waybill and invoice must state clearly that this shipment is a RETURN shipment with the original Export Air Waybill if possible.
- Entrepot (im7)
- Consignees use this service when goods are put into "entrepot".
- Shipments from diplomatic institutions (embassies and other agencies) require declaration by presenting this special form (supplied by the institution) to Customs.
- Shipments from military institutions (armies, logistic offices, etc.) require a declaration by presenting a 302 special form (supplied by the military headquarters) to Customs.
- A T2 or T2L can be used in some customs areas.
Please note: Ancillary charges may be applied for all extra services as deemed necessary by Customs or where these services are not covered as part of the standard FedEx Express customs clearance services.
The following is a list of the general documentation that is used to facilitate import and export processing requirements for shipments entering or exiting the commerce of Belgium.
Bill of lading
A Bill of Lading is a carrier certificate that authorizes the movement of goods. Currently, there are no special regulations or format designated for Bills of Lading.
An Air Waybill or Carriers Certificate (naming the consignee for customs purposes) acts as evidence of the consignee's right to make entry.
All goods shipped from outside the European Community to Belgium must have a Commercial Invoice. The invoice must contain and or reference the following information:
- Air Waybill or Bill of Lading number
- Shipper's full name and address with phone number
- Complete delivery address if different from invoice address
- VAT number of the consignee (if company)
- INCOTERMS (Terms of Sale - if possible show freight and insurance charges separately)
- Consignee's full name and address with phone number
- Full and complete description of the goods (including HS numbers if possible)
- Total quantity, unit value, units of measure and currency of the goods (fair market value)
- Number of packages
- Total weight of the shipment (gross and net)
- County of Origin
Invoices are required for all dutiable shipments relating to commercial transactions between companies; companies and individuals, regardless of the value. Commercial Invoices should show freight, insurance and similar charges as separate items when applicable, regardless of the INCOTERM (International Commercial Terms of Sale) used on the transaction. It can be in any official language for import shipments and, if required by customs, must be accompanied by a translation. When translations are requested, it must be furnished by a party who is knowledgeable of the transaction.
Additional descriptions and in some cases statements may be required and should be provided on the invoice in order to avoid possible customs delays and to assure proper classification and processing.
- A declaration of antiquity (for qualifying goods over 100 years old)
- A declaration of USED personal belongings, for shippers of personal effects seeking duty and tax exemption
- Fabric breakout (composition of fabric 100% Cotton) for textiles and textile products shipped
- Foodstuff breakout that identifies ingredients used in the manufacture of the foodstuffs
- Footwear breakout that identifies the gender, shoe type and construction of the shoes
- If samples of commercial goods are shipped, the appropriate description of the type of sample 'mutilated samples' or 'marked samples not for resale' should be provided as part of the description of the goods themselves.
- If gift shipments, shipper must identify the gifts as "unsolicited gifts not for resale or other purpose".
- Audio/video cassettes and tapes - the length and width of the tape, a brief synopsis of the content and the reason for exportation
- Software on CD's and floppy disks - The value of software must be shown separately from software support.
For some products, an Import License is required to be provided and tendered to customs when the goods are presented for import clearance. A license requirement is identified by customs or the designated agency (European Union licenses, national licenses, and surveillance forms, etc.) based on the type of commodity being imported and or the country of manufacture of the goods. There are several types of licenses required for imports:
- CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) License
- General Import Licenses are required for some:
- Munitions /Arms
- CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Wild Fauna and Flora) Import and Export Licenses
Some Import Licenses are only valid when accompanied with a Certificate of Origin, etc.
For more information on licensing requirements for your products please see 'Useful Contact Information'.
Textile Certificate of Origin
Documentary proof of origin is required for the importation of most textile products at all times. The exporter normally provides the documentary proof in the form of a Certificate of Origin, but shipments originating from specific countries have the option of providing either a Declaration of Origin on the Invoice itself or the Certificate of Origin. Properly completed Certificates of Origin must be endorsed or decremented by the local department of trade or Chamber of Commerce. In some cases a fee may be associated with this service.
Exceptions from the Certificate of Origin, Declaration of Origin requirement include:
- Properly marked and mutilated samples
- Luggage made up of textile materials
- Canvas bags
- Bona-fide Gifts
- Personal Effects
Please note: If some textile products are coming from countries with quantitive maximum (quota), an Export License (from the originating country) may be required in addition to the Certificate of Origin.
Bilateral agreement quotas or "quantitative limits of import" have been assigned to specific countries for specific products to allow the controlled importation of specific products. Quotas do not prohibit the free flow of commodities, but aid the importing country to control the amounts imported and to avoid negative impact to local industry.
Dangerous goods certification
In addition to the standard documentation noted above, some goods may require DG certification. Examples of some commodities that may require dangerous goods certification are perfumes, liquor, chemicals, etc.
Preferential Certificate of Origin documents (EUR 1, Form A, ATR)
Belgium is a participating member in many trade groups and has some bilateral and multilateral preferential agreements, which offer preferential tariff/duty rates for qualifying goods imported directly from nations, which are granted these preferences. The Preferential Certificate of Origin must be properly completed by the exporter and validated by the locally designated agency or ministry in order to be honored at the time of import. If your goods qualify for preferential treatment it is good to have an agreement between the supplier and consignee to ensure that they are always provided prior to the products being shipped. A Preferential Certificates of Origin is only necessary for those commodities subject to DUTY. Also note that in some countries, fees are associated with obtaining the documents and that the cost of obtaining the preference certificate may outweigh any benefit derived from a reduced rate of duty. Generally, shipments valued below 500 euro will not benefit from the issuance of a preference certificate, but the exporter should verify this prior to export as rates of duty vary by commodity.
If your goods qualify but the exporter fails to provide the proper preferential document, goods will be processed under normal entry processing and the importer will be required to pay full duty.
Low Value Preference Declarations are acceptable for some qualifying goods shipped from countries where preference agreements exist. A declaration may be provided on the Invoice in lieu of a Preference Certificate for most shipments valued between 5110- 6000 euro. Shipments that exceed 5110-6000 euro require the appropriate preference certificate to receive reduced duty benefit. Differences in the various preference agreements reached with Belgium's trading partner nations dictate at which value the preference declaration may be applied. You may contact customs locally or Belgian Customs for more information.
- Low Value preference declarations (for qualifying goods)
- Phytosanitary (for plants and vegetable products)
- Veterinary health (for animal products not for human consumption)
- Veterinary health (foodstuff for human consumption)
- CE-label (for quality and safety ex. Toys etc.)
- Agrim/Agrex (cap-license for agriculture products, etc.)
- VI1 (for wine, grape, grape juice)
- Fabric, foodstuff, footwear breakout
- Waste certificate
The following is a non-exhaustive list of goods that may qualify for exemption from import duty and taxes:
- Used personal effects removal, marriage, heritage, second house, student
- Educational and cultural materials
- Scientific instruments
- Test object-biological and chemical materials
- Therapeutic materials of human origin
- Test sera for blood and tissue groups
- Instruments intended for medical science and medical diagnoses
- Reference materials for quality control for drugs, pharmaceutical products
- Goods intended for international sporting events
- Products for institutes with charitable events or awards
- Products for royalties
- Products intended for use in scientific analysis and testing
All articles imported into Belgium must bear a proper country of origin (country of manufacture) marking as specified by Custom's regulations. The country of origin must be provided on the goods in the manner and location designated by the rules governing that commodity. For purposes of identifying the actual country of manufacture where goods are processed or assembled in more than one country, the country of origin (manufacture) will be the country where the goods were last processed into a finished good or where a substantial transformation was made on the raw materials transforming them from one commodity into another. Substantial transformation requires that the goods be changed markedly from one commodity to another. Adding of water, to fruit juice concentrates to make fruit juice, is deemed not to be a substantial transformation. Smelting of ore into steel sheets or rods is considered a substantial transformation. Rules of origin are complex and require a thorough knowledge of the commodity and processes used in making the product, as well as the rules of origin that apply to any preferential tariff agreements in place.
Marking of Goods
Marking of all goods consigned for consumption into Belgium must be legible. This means it must be of adequate size, and clear enough, to be read easily by a person of normal vision. The article should be marked as permanently as the nature of the product will permit. However, any reasonable method of marking that will accomplish the purpose of the law is acceptable. Markings that do not remain on the article during handling will be considered an improper marking. The best form of marking is one which becomes a part of the article itself, such as branding, stenciling, stamping, printing, molding and similar methods. Other forms of marking will be acceptable if it is certain that the marking used will remain on the article, and will remain legible and conspicuous, until the article reaches the ultimate purchaser in Belgium. It is important that this marking withstand handling. This means it must be of a type that can be defaced, destroyed, removed, altered, obliterated, or obscured only by a deliberate act. When tags are used, they must be attached in a conspicuous place and in a manner which assures that, unless deliberately removed, will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser.
All textile products must be permanently affixed with a readily accessible label containing the following information:
- Fiber content shown by generic name, preferably in one of the major country languages or English as a percentage of total mass for all fibers with a total mass of 100% and in order of predominance of mass
- Dealer identity and/or Country of Manufacture
A marking exemption may apply to various articles due to their own specific limitations, like goods for one time use or articles that are incapable of being marked.
Certain electronic goods put up for sale or use in Belgium require Electromagnetic Compatibility Certification and must bear the appropriate CE marking. Toys put up for sale or use in Belgium must meet certain safety regulations and must bear the appropriate CE marking. Child safety restraints and motorcycle helmets put up for sale or use in Belgium must meet certain safety regulations.
All goods shipped from a country within the EU to Belgium must provide a proper description clearly detailing the shipper's intent related to the goods as well as any special processing requirements that exist for the goods shipped.
All goods shipped from outside of the EU into Belgium must provide a proper value declared and a proper description clearly detailing the shipper's intent related to the goods as well as any special processing requirements that exist for the goods shipped.
All merchandise coming into Belgium must clear Customs and is subject to customs duty assessment unless the goods are duty or tax exempt by law. Customs duties are, generally, an ad valorem rate (a percentage), which is applied to the transaction value (euro) of the imported goods based on the cost of the goods, insurance, and freight charges. Some articles, however, are dutiable at a specific rate of duty (so much per piece, liter, kilo, etc.) and others at a compound rate (combination of both ad valorem and specific rates). The dutiable value of merchandise is determined by the EU Customs code. Several appraisal methods are used to arrive at this value. Generally, the transaction value of the merchandise serves as a basis of appraisal. Transaction value is the price the buyer actually pays the seller for the goods sold and being imported. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of European Union (2001 Edition) prescribes the rates of duty and classification of merchandise by the type of product; i.e. animal and vegetable products, textile fibers and textile products. The tariff schedule provides several rates of duty for each item.
Under strict enforcement of unfair trade laws, Customs will assess antidumping duties or countervailing duties. Antidumping duties are assessed on imported merchandise sold in Belgium (EU) at less than the normal price of goods in the manufacturer's home market (also called fair market value). The amount of duty assessed will be determined based on the type of good, country of manufacture of the good, and in some cases the actual manufacturer of the good.
Excise taxes are accessed against certain commodities, which are normally identified as "luxury" goods. The excise tax is normally assessed against tobacco products, perfumes and alcohol products but can also be accessed against other goods as deemed by Belgium regulations.
Additional duty that may be applicable for imports into Belgium:
- Antidumping duty
- Compensated duty
- Special duties on agriculture products
- For some commodities duty can be calculated per item
Countervailing duties are assessed to counter the effects of subsidies provided by a foreign government for merchandise exported to Belgium resulting in artificially low prices that are detrimental to Belgium and other European Union member states industries.
Watch Duty Rate
Watches imported into Belgium are subject to classification and duty assessment based on a per item basis. The actual duty and the final rate of duty are determined based on the classification of the watch at the time of entry processing with customs.
Additional tax that may be applicable for imports into Belgium:
- Excise and special excise
- Tax on controlled items like veterinary, Phytosanitary, etc.
- Special environmental tax (see eco tax)
- Ancillary Fees (addition charges) required due to special handling or processing as deemed necessary by customs
Value Added Tax (VAT) is normally 21%, however on some products the vat can be 6%. For example the general calculations for duties and vat is based on:
- Duty (full duty/reduced duty/no duty) = invoice value + % transport cost x % duty = duty value
- VAT (21% or 6% or‚Ä¶) = invoice value + % transport cost + duty value x % vat = vat value
Eco tax will be added at the time of import on some products such as: packaging materials made from paper and plastic; disposable cameras; batteries and industrial packaging; containers used to transport solvents, glues and pesticides and the actual pesticides. The tax is levied to assist the local government to control the cost of the environmentally safe disposal of waste by-products associated with these type products.
Ancillary charges may be applied for all extra services as deemed necessary by Customs or where these services are not covered as part of the standard FedEx Express customs clearance services.
If the Customs Administration considers that goods have been undervalued on the declaration, the importer has the option of asking to have the goods appraised by experts. If the appraised value of goods is not more than 5% higher than the declared value, duty is levied on the declared amount. If the appraised value is more than 5% higher than the declared value, duty may be collected on the amount fixed by appraisers, or the goods may be pre-empted on payment of the declared price plus 5%. In the first instance, if the experts' appraisal exceeds the declared value by 10%, a fine of 50% of the extra duty is levied.
No foreign exchange controls exist.
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)
Technical barriers or non-tariff barriers to trade¬†as they are sometimes known, can cause many problems for exporters looking for new markets for their products. These barriers can be in the form of regulations, standards,
testing and certification procedures.¬† The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that these barriers do not create unnecessary obstacles. To obtain further information on
Technical Barriers to Trade as well as Notifications on technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, go to the WTO website at http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tbt_e/tbt_e.htm.
No consular fees
Make sure to browse the FedEx International Resource Center for more information about Shipping & Mail Forwarding to Belgium.