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EU customs relief system

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EU customs relief system


Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 - setting up a system of reliefs from customs duties



It allows for the granting of relief from the duties that would normally be payable on goods both imported into and exported out of the EU.

It sets out the cases in which relief from import and export duties and measures adopted on the basis of Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (ex-Article 133 of the Treaty establishing the European Community) are granted when goods are imported into or exported out of the EU.



There are various categories of goods which are eligible for relief from import duties. Subject to certain conditions, goods are free from import duties when they concern:

Personal property:

  • personal property of people transferring their normal place of residence from a non-EU country to an EU country, provided that the place of residence had been outside of the EU for at least 12 consecutive months;
  • goods imported on the occasion of a marriage, provided that the person concerned has been resident outside of the EU for at least 12 consecutive months and can provide proof of marriage;
  • personal property inherited by an EU resident;
  • clothing, study materials and furniture of students coming to study in the EU.

Goods of negligible value, non-commercial goods, capital goods and goods contained in travellers' personal luggage:

  • goods of negligible value;
  • goods of a non-commercial nature, sent directly from one private individual in a non-EU country to another in the EU;
  • capital goods and other equipment belonging to an undertaking that has definitively terminated its activities in a non-EU country and has moved to the EU;
  • VAT-exempt goods contained in the personal luggage of travellers arriving from outside the EU.

Agricultural, biological, chemical, pharmaceutical and medical products:

  • agricultural, stock-farming, bee-keeping, horticultural and forestry products from properties in adjoining non-EU countries operated by EU farmers;
  • seeds, fertilisers and products for treatment of soil and crops imported by agricultural producers from non-EU countries, but intended for use in the adjoining EU countries;
  • laboratory animals and biological or chemical substances intended for research;
  • therapeutic substances of human origin and blood-grouping and tissue-typing reagents;
  • instruments and apparatus used in medical research, diagnosis or treatment;
  • reference substances for the quality control of medicinal products;
  • pharmaceutical products used at international sports events.

Other categories:

  • educational, scientific and cultural materials and scientific instruments and apparatus;
  • goods for charitable or philanthropic organisations;
  • honorary decorations or awards, gifts received in the context of international relations and goods to be used by monarchs or heads of state;
  • goods imported for trade promotion purposes;
  • trademarks, patterns or designs sent to organisations protecting copyrights or industrial and commercial patent rights;
  • tourist information literature;
  • ancillary materials used for the stowage and protection of goods during their transport;
  • litter, fodder and feedingstuffs accompanying animals during their transport;
  • fuel and lubricants contained in motor vehicles and motor cycles entering the EU;
  • materials for the construction or maintenance of war memorials;
  • coffins containing bodies, funerary urns containing ashes, and ornamental funerary articles.

Where relief from import duties is subject to the goods being put to a particular use, the person concerned is responsible for providing the competent authority with proof that these conditions have been met. In this situation, only the competent authorities of the EU country concerned may grant this relief.


There are various categories of goods which are eligible for relief from export duties. Subject to certain conditions, goods are free from export duties when they concern:

  • goods of negligible value;
  • domesticated animals exported when an agricultural undertaking transfers its activities from an EU to a non-EU country;
  • agricultural or stock-farming products obtained by non-EU farmers in adjoining countries;
  • seeds exported by agricultural producers for use on properties in non-EU countries;
  • fodder and feedingstuffs accompanying animals during their exportation.


The regulation entered into force on 30 December 2009.


Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 of 16 November 2009 setting up a Community system of reliefs from customs duty (OJ L 324, 10.12.2009, pp. 23–57)

last update 15.11.2015