Customs came with a message about the completion of the export declaration on October 1st. Export declaration: exporter must be established in the Union 01-10-2019

You may indicate in box 2 of the export declaration only an exporter who is established in the Union from the 1st of December 2019.
This is in line with the definition of ‘exporter’ as stated in Article 1 (19) of the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446

https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/berichten/nieuws/douane/exportaangifte-exporteur-must-in-unie-confirmed-be

Two rules that, in my opinion, have an impact that customs themselves have not immediately thought about, more about that later.

Background

As of July 30th 2018, the EU has indeed imposed a new definition of exporter that clearly states that the exporter may no longer be located outside the EU. As a result, Dutch customs have allowed the exporter to be an entity established outside the EU, which would coincide with the implementation of the EU automatic export system (the UCC IT system). The latter was recently postponed until December 31, 2025 by customs themselves.

Fiscal climate

Since 1968, the Netherlands has created a positive fiscal climate by including the possibility of appointing a tax representative in the Turnover Tax Act for a foreign entrepreneur. Precisely for those parties, customs declaration has so far been made under indirect representation.

With the two rules of Dutch customs that is no longer possible, we can here speak of a competitive position of the Netherlands that is completely destroyed.

Then there has always been a good connection between the tax and customs authorities in the past. Also that connection between the import and export side is now more difficult to make. We now allow an importer to operate as a foreign company with a Dutch VAT number with a reverse charge, but not when exporting. An even harder prove to match the 0% VAT on export. Precisely for this, an exception from Dutch customs seems highly desirable.

AEO

The solution that is now being given is that anyone who has physical control over the goods can also act as an exporter. In practice, this could mean that the forwarder, transporter or customs agent can take over the role of exporter. That is a huge responsibility and the average forwarder needs time to set that up properly.

This solution is also against the policy of the customs authorities themselves to continue entering customs declarations under direct or indirect representation. The AEO guidelines, which many freight forwarders and transporters have followed obediently in recent times, partly to minimize risks, are ignored. The responsibility now seems to be completely with the customs agent. Has the use of representation in this regard also been abolished?

Impact timeframe

Customs wrote this message on 1 October to allow entry into effect on 1 December. Setting up local parties as exporters simply requires time, a timeframe of 2 months without any announcement is absolutely not sufficient for this. Certainly the current uncertainty with the approaching Brexit has a huge impact, the chosen time of customs is very unfavorable.

Why does customs not link this to the introduction of the EU automatic export system and why does Customs not communicate this at an earlier time?

Future

Other countries in the EU also demand that import duties and VAT will be collected from a company established in that country. Does Dutch customs also want to follow this strategy and set all tax representatives on the sideline? Not to mention DDP deliveries, you force a foreign company to first establish itself in the Netherlands or to work with a local importer / distributor.  A clear customs policy with a transition period is the minimum that should be offered, certainly to allow the Netherlands to get used to this new competitive position in relation to neighboring countries.

There are always 20 countries left, maybe 19 countries after the Brexit, that do not yet have a clear policy on this and do accept a company based outside the EU as an exporter. Is it precisely that the Netherlands as a transit country should be at the forefront of this decision? Surely the government has done everything in recent years to make it interesting for foreign companies to choose for the Netherlands?

Conclusion

Ultimately, this policy described in 2 rules stirs up quite a bit of dust, it causes a lot of unrest and raises more questions for the transport industry than it answers. Placing the question directly with the policymaker does not immediately provide an answer, but policy negotiations are probably awaiting there. A joint policy from the branch to customs is already being formulated through the branch association EvoFenedex. The latter already has an extra meeting with customs and soon an official message will have to come. A broader policy will have to provide the answers to all questions.

Vincent ten Veen – vincent@rapidlogistics.nl.