Spain has developed a trade sector which accounts for more than a half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The import and export field is a very important element of this economy.
The following article helps import and export companies understand the necessary requirements to carry out trading activity. Additionally, it outlines the different steps of the import and export process from and to Spain and the European Union.
(Note: Updates to original article made by Lexidy Staff May 7, 2023)
IMPORTING INTO SPAIN
Import From EU countries
Well, thanks to the EU internal market, it is fairly easy to trade with the vast majority of European countries.
Firstly, you pay no tariffs on goods traded between EU countries. There’s no limit on the number of imports and exports, and it’s not possible to otherwise restrict trade between EU countries.
Overall, importing from the European Union has the same characteristics and requirements as if you were acquiring goods from within Spain.
Notwithstanding, we advise registering your company in the Vat Information Exchange System (VIES) Census. This number allows you to receive and issue invoices without VAT to other companies in Europe also registered in the VIES census. Note: the VIES registration is not immediate and must be approved by the Spanish tax authority.
Import From non-EU countries
What are the requirements to import into the EU?
- As an EU importer/exporter, you need to apply for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI). Businesses and people wishing to trade must use the EORI number as an identification number in all customs procedures when exchanging information with Customs administrations.
- Next, many products require CE marking before they can be sold in the EU. CE marking indicates that a product has been assessed by the manufacturer and deemed to meet EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements. It is required for products manufactured anywhere in the world that are then marketed in the EU.
|*Be aware of the Import Restrictions: Imports of some sensitive goods or imports of certain goods coming from specific countries are prohibited or restricted. You might need special permits, a license or to present an officially approved import notification in order to import them.|
What are the required documents for custom clearance in the EU?
- You need to provide a customs declaration to your national customs authority.
- You also need to present an Entry Summary Declaration before the arrival of the goods at the first point of entry into the EU.
- Furthermore, depending on the type of goods, you need to turn in additional documents to customs authorities, as required.
Subsequently, you file a customs clearance to complete all the customs formalities required under EU customs legislation. The importer (or a customs representative appointed by the importer) can “lodge” the customs clearance. This means that the importer can electronically register a goods declaration with the Bureau, in accordance with custom’s laws in Spain.
Which import tariffs apply to your product?
- Import tariffs may need to be paid for your product when it enters the EU. The EU is a customs union, which means that someone must pay a single import tariff at the place of entry where the import declaration happens, irrespective of the EU Member State. The product can then circulate in the EU market without further customs formalities.
- Who pays for the tariffs depends on the agreement with the seller, but oftentimes the importer pays the import duties.
What internal taxes apply?
Did you know that value added tax (VAT) applies to goods sold on the EU market, as well as to those imported from outside the EU? VAT varies in each EU Member State and is usually what the importer pays.
- VAT-registered firms can reclaim the import VAT tax as input tax, just like they can claim back their domestic VAT payments.
- For selected goods you will be required to pay excise duties, which vary from EU country to EU country. These taxes apply to a range of products, including but not limited to : tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, mineral oil, and energy products.
EXPORTING GOODS OUTSIDE OF SPAIN
What are the required documents for export clearance in the EU?
- At this time, you must first submit an electronic export declaration at your national customs authority. The export declaration provides the necessary information about the goods themselves and the transport.
- Following, you prepare the Invoice, transport documents and a packing list. You must keep all documents for at least three years in case of any checks after export clearance (national commercial and fiscal legislation often provides for longer periods).
- Next, you will need the VAT and export records. When you export outside of the EU, your product is exempted from value-added tax (VAT) in the EU, independently of whether you are selling to a business or an individual consumer, providing that you keep records of the export and the proof of export issued by the customs authority.
- Lastly, you need to provide Certificates or licenses. Common examples of these include phytosanitary certificates or export licenses for export purposes.
In general, you can file the customs declaration yourself or by a service supplier who is your customs representative. If you employ a forwarding company or customs broker, they can act on your behalf.
A forwarding agent can assist you in the export and transport process by helping you with:
- Arranging the collection and delivery of your goods
- Negotiating freight rates with carriers
- Booking cargo space
- Preparing customs documents on your behalf
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What is the export and custom clearance process?
The export procedure has two stages:
- Stage One: The lodging of the export declaration and the the presentation of the goods at the customs office of export
- Stage Two: The presentation of the goods and the indication of the Master Reference Number (MRN) from the export declaration at the Customs Office in the country of exit. Once these are complete, you may receive a release for exit.
When your goods reach the country of destination, the local import requirements and processes will apply to your exports.
Which tariffs apply to your product?
- Tariffs may need to be paid for your product when it is put on the export market. You will find the applied tariffs of various destination countries in My Trade Assistant.
- If the EU has a preferential trade agreement with the country of destination, tariffs on your product may be reduced or even completely eliminated. The names of these customs duties are preferential tariff rates.
- As a rule, it depends on your agreement and contract with the buyer, but in most cases the Lexidy legal team advises our clients to leave the import clearance to the buyer. The buyer pays the customs duties as well as the taxes and additional duties at the time of importation. Bear in mind that the latter will most likely increase the price of your product on your export market.
How do sellers and buyers determine the liabilities between them?
You can use International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) to define your contractual liabilities. Incoterms set out the responsibilities of sellers and buyers for the delivery, insurance and transport of goods under sales contracts. They determine who is responsible for customs export formalities in the EU and the formalities in your export market.
Incoterms are very useful and practical tools that facilitate and simplify international trade. They exist so you can avoid legal problems. However, they require proper and correct application to fully enjoy their benefits.
How can our Spanish lawyers assist in import and export matters?
Our team of English-speaking Corporate Lawyers can offer more details on the regulations concerning trading activities in Spain. We can help you with our comprehensive advisory services, keeping you up-to-standards and in the clear from the point of view of Spanish commercial law.
Register with the form below so we can advise you on your unique situation and best course of action.