Stages of Import

There are six stages in the import process by sea or air in respect of imports from outside the EU;

  • the advance provision of information;
  • the report of the arrival of means of transport;
  • the presentation of the goods;
  • the declaration of the goods;
  • the examination of the goods;
  • the release of the goods;

Notice of Arrival

Ships and aircraft arriving in the EU must give details of their arrival. Legislation provides that the requirement for an Arrival Notification from the Carrier may be waived where the information is otherwise available to the customs authorities.

Irish Revenue have dispensed with the requirement for an arrival notification because it already receives arrival information on all sea going vessels and aircraft from DTTAS and DAA respectively.

Declaration and Presentation

Separate from the obligations of the shipper and airline, a person importing goods or the person responsible for their carriage must declare and present the goods to customs. Presentation requires that Revenue is notified that the goods have arrived. Goods must be presented within three hours of their arrival at the place of unloading. If the Revenue offices are unopen, it must be presented within an hour of re-opening.

Declarations may be made when the goods are presented, or within a short time afterwards. The importer or his representative make the declaration. The declaration may be made through the automated entry processing system (AEP). Goods are released once duties have been paid, accounted for or secured

Once declared they may go through one of a number of routes, one of which involves no examination of goods or documents, one which involves examination of documents and one which requires a physical examination of the goods and their documents. The route chosen depends on the profile of the goods. The higher the risk profile, the more likely a fuller examination will be required.

Declarations may be lodged up to 30 days before the goods are dispatched. Revenue may give  a green routing message so that they can  pass the border without  presentation.  This is done, just before arrival of the goods, so that an intervention is possible until the means of transport arrive at the border. In practice the vast bulk of trade passes in this way.

In effect the Revenue are satisfied by automated risk management that the trader and movement are compliant with customs obligations. The goods would have been pre-declared to free movement and customs duty paid or secured, where applicable. Some random intervention will be required by way of policing.

Import by Land / Northern Ireland

There are no general formalities required in relation to goods crossing the border with Northern Ireland. Non-Community (EU) goods will already be controlled or cleared under the appropriate the customs procedure. In some cases, those goods must be brought to the appropriate customs office under the relevant procedure.

There may be some controls in relation to the transit of goods which are prohibited or restricted under the law in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be.

Place of Import

Goods may be imported or landed only at a place approved by the customs. They may include wharves, quays, transit sheds, recognised unapproved places, custom airports and postal depots.

A transit shed is a secured building, where goods are stored pending presentation and declaration. They must be approved and authorised by Revenue. The same applies to compounds and transit depots. Operators of such facilities must enter a bond or cover note to secure duties payable.

Recognised unapproved places are exceptionally permitted. Advance permission is required. There must be a good reason.

Revenue approves licensed areas within the airport for the loading and unloading of goods and passengers.

Customs Declaration Required

Goods are placed under customs-approved treatment or use using the Single Administrative Document (SAD). This now electronic in all cases. The use of SAD has several aims:

  • ensuring openness in national administrative requirements
  • rationalize and reduce administrative documentation
  • reduce the amount of requested information
  • standardize and harmonize data

The SAD can be presented to the customs authorities by the importer or a representative, either electronically (each EU country has its own system) or in very exceptional circumstances, by delivery directly to the premises of the customs office.

The SAD covers the placement of any goods whatever the mode of transport used and under any customs procedure, including:

  • export
  • import
  • transit where the new computerised transit system (NCTS) is not yet used
  • warehouses
  • temporary import
  • inward and outward processing

Customs approved treatments

When goods arrive at the customs office of entry to the EU, they are placed into temporary storage under customs supervision (no longer than 90 days) until they are assigned to a customs approved treatments (or re-exported) such as:

  • Release for free circulation; Goods are released for consumption once all the import requirements have been met: all applicable tariff duties, VAT and excise duties have been paid ;all applicable authorisations and certificates (e.g. health requirements) have been presented
  • External transit:non-Union goods may be moved from one point to another within the customs territory of the EU without being subject to import duties, other charges related to the import of the goods (i.e. internal taxes) and commercial policy measures. Moving goods to another EU Member State means the customs clearance procedures are transferred to the customs office of destination.
  • Internal transit:Union goods may be moved from one point to another within the customs territory of the EU without any change to their customs status. This includes transporting goods through another territory that is outside the EU customs territory.
  • Storage, which comprises customs warehousing and free zones: Customs warehousing: non-Union goods may be stored in premises or any other location authorised by the customs authorities and under customs supervision (‘customs warehouses’) without being subject to import duties, other charges related to the import of the goods and commercial policy measures.
  • Free zones: Member States may designate parts of the customs territory of the Union as free zones. They are special areas within the customs territory of the Union where goods can be introduced free of import duties, other charges (i.e. internal taxes) and commercial policy measures, until they are either assigned another approved customs procedure or re-exported. Goods may also undergo simple operations such as processing and re-packing.
  • Specific use, which comprises temporary admission and end-use:
  • Temporary admission: Non-Union goods can enter the EU without the payment of import duties, provided they are intended for re-export without being changed. The maximum period for temporary import is two years.
  • End-use: goods may be released for free circulation under a duty exemption or at a reduced rate of duty on account of their specific use.
  • Processing, which comprises inward and outward processing:
  • Inward processing: Goods can be imported into the EU, without being subject to duties, taxes and formalities, to be processed under customs control and then re-exported. If the finished products are ultimately not exported, they become subject to the applicable duties and formalities.
  • Outward processing: Union goods may be temporarily exported from the customs territory of the Union for processing purposes. The processed goods may be released for free circulation with total or partial relief from import duties.

Detention and Seizure

Goods may be detained in the following circumstances

  • where a SAD is required;
  • where further information is required for assessment;
  • where import licences are required;
  • where a safety data sheet is required for chemicals or hazardous materials;
  • where fraud is suspected.

Goods may be seized if they are

  • undeclared or incorrectly declared;
  • contraband imported in breach of licence.

Indecent or obscene material publications or DVD may be seized where child pornography is suspected.  The relevant activities must be reported

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