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Document 61999CJ0066

Summary of the Judgment

Judgment of the Court (Sixth Chamber) of 1 February 2001.
D. Wandel GmbH v Hauptzollamt Bremen.
Reference for a preliminary ruling: Finanzgericht Bremen - Germany.
Community Customs Code and implementing regulation - Incurrence of a customs debt on importation - Relevant time - Concept of removal from customs supervision of goods liable to import duty - Production of certificates of origin - Effect.
Case C-66/99.

Keywords
Summary

Keywords

1. Customs union Incurrence of a customs debt on importation linked to the release for free circulation of goods Conditions Completion of the formalities regarding verification by the customs authorities of declarations accepted by customs Whether included

(Council Regulation No 2913/92, Arts 68 and 201(1)(a))

2. Customs union Incurrence of a customs debt on importation following removal from customs supervision of goods liable to import duty Acceptance of the declaration by customs Lack of effect

(Council Regulation No 2913/92, Arts 37(2) and 203(1))

3. Customs union Incurrence of a customs debt on importation following removal from customs supervision of goods liable to import duty Meaning of removal

(Council Regulation No 2913/92, Arts 37(1), 50, 51(1) and 203(1); Commission Regulation No 2454/93, Art. 865)

4. Customs union Incurrence of a customs debt on importation following removal from customs supervision of goods liable to import duty Presentation of the documents required for the application of preferential tariff Lack of effect

(Council Regulation No 2913/92, Arts 62(2), 201 and 203(1); Commission Regulation No 2454/93, Art. 218(1)(c))

Summary

1. The application of the measures referred to in Article 68 of Regulation No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code, which entitles the customs authorities, when verifying the declarations which they have accepted, in particular to carry out an examination of the goods (which may involve the taking of samples for analysis or detailed examination) and the release of goods by the customs authorities as well as the lodging and immediate acceptance of a customs declaration are among the formalities laid down in respect of the importation of goods, which inter alia must have been completed before non-Community goods declared for release for free circulation obtain the status of Community goods and before there is a proper release for free circulation. Where the goods concerned were not properly released for free circulation, the chargeable event prescribed by Article 201(1)(a) of the Customs Code and triggering the customs debt has not occurred and no customs debt could have been incurred under that provision.

( see paras 36-38, 42 )

2. Where an examination of goods liable to customs duty has been ordered by the customs authority for the purposes of verifying a declaration which has been accepted, and it has proved impossible to carry out the examination because, between the time when the customs declaration is accepted and the time when the goods may possibly be released, the goods have been removed from the place of temporary storage without the authorisation of the relevant customs authority, the customs debt on importation is incurred under Article 203(1) of Regulation No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code.

Customs supervision continues after acceptance of the customs declaration and, under Article 37(2) of the Customs Code, ends only when, inter alia, the status of non-Community goods changes and they become Community goods, that occurrence not being a consequence of acceptance of the customs declaration.

( see paras 45, 51, and operative part 1 )

3. Any withdrawal from authorised storage of goods subject to customs supervision without the authorisation of the customs authority constitutes removal for the purposes of Article 203(1) of Regulation No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code and thus gives rise under that provision to a customs debt on importation.

Although removal is not defined by Community legislation, if Articles 37(1), 50, 51(1) and 203(1) of the Customs Code are read together, it is none the less apparent that the scope of Article 203(1) extends well beyond the acts referred to in Article 865 of Regulation No 2454/93 laying down provisions for the implementation of Regulation No 2913/92 and that removal must be understood as encompassing any act or omission the result of which is to prevent, if only for a short time, the competent customs authority from gaining access to goods under customs supervision and from monitoring them as provided for in Article 37(1) of the Customs Code.

For the purposes of Article 203(1) of the Customs Code, removal of goods from customs supervision does not require intent: it is sufficient if certain objective conditions are met, including, in particular, the absence of the goods from the approved place of storage at the time when the customs authorities intend to carry out an examination of them.

( see paras 46-48, 50 )

4. It is possible for a customs debt on importation to be incurred under Article 203(1) of Regulation No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code where the customs declaration received by the customs office was accompanied by technically correct certificates of origin corresponding to Form A and where the zero preferential tariff applied to the goods covered by the declaration.

Article 62(2) and Article 201 of the Customs Code read in conjunction with Article 218(1)(c) of the Regulation No 2454/93 laying down provisions for the implementation of Regulation No 2913/92 make it clear that production with the customs declaration of the documents required in order for preferential tariff arrangements to apply in no way affects the incurrence of the customs debt, but is simply a means of ascertaining which tariff arrangements are applicable and the amount of the duty lawfully due.

( see paras 54, 57 and operative part 2 )

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