By: Amy Borg
The European Commission (EC) decided to temporarily suspend customs duties and VAT from non-EU countries on protective equipment, testing kits or medical devices such as ventilators to assist the member states affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement issued by the Commission, it was explained that the EU customs legislation provides for the possibility to grant duty relief for the “benefit of disaster victims”.
It can be applied to imports by state organisations or approved charitable or philanthropic organisations.
To grant relief, a decision from the Commission is required, acting at the request of the member states concerned.
The EC further explained that similarly, the EU VAT law has mirroring provisions as regards exemption from VAT on the final importation of certain goods.
The duty and VAT relief applies to imports by:
- state organisations (state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law including hospitals, governmental organisations, communes/towns, regional governments, etc.)
- charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities of the member states
The decision will be applicable from 30 January 2020 until 31 July 2020. This allows for specific imports carried out during the incipient phase of the outbreak to also benefit from the exemption.