On 3 April 2020, the European Commission issued its Decision granting relief from customs duty and import VAT exemptions for equipment necessary for combating the COVID-19 outbreak, following its announcement of its intention to do so on 20 March 2020 (please see our previous blog post here).

Goods will only be exempt from customs duty and import VAT if they:

  1. are imported by or on behalf of State organisations, or by or on behalf of organisations approved by competent authorities in the Member States;
  2. are intended to be distributed or made available, free of charge, to “persons affected by or at risk from COVID-19 or involved in combating the COVID-19 outbreak“; and
  3. satisfy certain requirements set out in Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 and Council Directive 2009/132/EC.

Goods subject to relief and the quantities thereof will be determined by the Member States, although the European Commission indicates this will include masks and protective equipment, as well as testing kits, ventilators and other medical equipment.

The measures apply retrospectively from 30 January 2020 and will remain in place until 31 July 2020. The European Commission will review the situation, in consultation with Member States, before 31 July 2020 and extend the period if necessary.

For more information, please see the European Commission’s press release, available here. Authors: Sunny Mann and Ross Denton.