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Import Trade Documents are needed to make sure goods can enter a country, the same as Export Documents are needed to make sure goods can leave a country. Please find an explanation of various import(ant) documents that may be needed to ensure your goods reach their final destination smoothly.

Certificate of Origin

A Certificate of Origin is not a customs document, but you may need it to import goods into a country. A certificate of origin can be made by the producer or exporter and is usually authorized by the Chamber of Commerce in the country where the goods were produced or obtained. The document proves that it has met the criteria to be considered as originating from a country. Beware that this is not necessarily the country of export. A certificate of origin can be used by the Customs or Tax Authority at the country of destination to determine tariffs.


EUR1 Certificate

The EUR1 Certificate is a Certificate of Origin of sorts. It is used for exporting goods from the EU to countries with which the EU has Free Trade Agreements. Depending on the agreement for certain goods you have to pay lower import duties, or even no import duties at all. This is called the preferential rate.

You do not have to use a EUR1 certificate, but without it, you have to pay the full import duties, and you can’t benefit from preferential rates.

A EUR1 Certificate can be requested at the Chamber of Commerce.

A full list of the EU Trade Agreements that are in place and under negotiation can be found here.

Import Requirements at Destination

There may be other documents that are required for your goods to be allowed to enter the country of destination. The rules per country vary. Contact the buyer or the customs authority in that country to find out more.

An example of such a document is the ATR.1 Certificate. This document is used to benefit from lower import duties when export goods from the EU to Turkey.


What is the cost of customs clearance?


There are two main parts to the customs cost. The first is the customs clearance fee. This is the cost of preparing and submitting the customs entry. The fee has to be paid to the customs broker—or freight forwarder if the brokerage services are part of the service.

The second part is the duties and taxes. These are calculated by the customs broker and are usually a percentage of the value of the goods and the transport charges. Duties and taxes typically have to be paid directly to the customs authorities.

The type of goods you are importing will determine the tariff that the customs broker has to apply. The broker will find the right tariff via a customs code lookup based on the description of your goods. Be aware that tariffs are country-specific and can vary significantly. Often, certain goods can be imported in a country without having to pay any import duties. It’s worth checking with your customs broker beforehand to see if your products are free.

Custom inspection fees might apply if the authorities subject your shipment to a customs intensive exam. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to know beforehand if your goods will be selected for such treatment.

How long does it take to complete customs clearance?

Predicting the length of the customs clearance process is difficult due to the great diversity in systems and protocols worldwide. Usually, the import customs clearance can begin when goods are still in transit and prior to their arrival in the destination country, assuming the necessary documents are in place. Many countries provide online systems for submitting customs entries, enabling the authorities to release the goods in as little as 24 hours.

If customs authorities have queries, request further documentation, or insist upon an inspection of the goods, the duration can be extended to a few days and even weeks. To avoid storage charges at the port or airport of arrival, it is paramount that the seller and buyer cooperate to provide the necessary documents.


Can I track the status of the customs clearance?

Your customs broker or freight forwarder should be able to keep you up to date with the status of your customs clearance. They should immediately inform you if there are any holdups or delays. When you ship your cargo with us, you can benefit from our real-time tracking available on our online platform, so you are always aware of your shipments’ progress.


Shipping Container, Containerised, Freight, Cargo
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