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Suspension of import duties on certain weapons and military equipment

Suspension of import duties on certain weapons and military equipment



Regulation (EC) No 150/2003 suspending import duties on certain weapons and military equipment


Its purpose is to suspend import duties on certain weapons and military equipment to allow the EU countries’ authorities in charge of defence to procure the best military material available in the world.

It is only applicable to goods imported by or on behalf of the defence authorities in EU countries.


Suspension of duties

The regulation suspends the common customs tariff duties applicable to weapons and military materials on condition the goods are used by (or on behalf of) the EU country’s armed forces, for example:

  • in the territorial defence of EU countries,
  • participation in international peace keeping,
  • other missions such as the protection of EU citizens.

Annex I of the regulation lays down the list of goods which are eligible for this exemption. Any material that is not listed in the regulation and in its annexes is subject to customs duties, even if it is imported by the armed forces of an EU country.

Goods concerned

The goods on which the duties are suspended are arms and ammunition, including parts and accessories, certain rare gases, explosives, detonators, certain photographic materials and certain chemical products.

The regulation also applies the suspension of customs duties to imported parts, components and sub-assemblies that are to be incorporated into or fitted to the goods in the annexes or which are necessary for training or testing.

Private companies

Private companies established in the EU will only be able to import the goods duty-free provided that that they manufacture the relevant military equipment, and that they supply final products to the authorities in charge of defence in the EU countries. All other uses are liable for customs duties.



The request for entry for free circulation of these goods must be accompanied by a certificate issued by the competent authority of the EU country for whose armed forces the goods are intended.

The model for this certificate is reproduced in Annex III to the regulation. It is to be submitted to the customs authorities of the importing EU country with the goods to which it refers.

Military confidentiality

To ensure military confidentiality, there is a specific administrative procedure for granting duty suspension: the authorities responsible for national defence may issue the certificate instead of the regular customs services. The authorities must be notified accordingly.

Customs supervision

The goods concerned are subject to end-use conditions laid down by the EU Customs Code, i.e. their use will be supervised. Customs supervision of the end-use finishes 3 years after the date of release for free circulation.

For the purposes of customs supervision, the competent authority issuing the certificate or using the goods must notify the customs authorities of its country of any diversion of the goods from the use specified in the regulation.

Exchanging information

EU countries must communicate the names of those authorised to issue the certificate. The European Commission forwards this information to the customs authorities of the other EU countries.

EU countries must inform the Commission about the implementation of the regulation, and send information each year to the Commission on the number of certificates issued, together with the total value and gross weight of goods imported under the regulation.


It applies from 1 January 2003.


For more information, see:


Council Regulation (EC) No 150/2003 of 21 January 2003 suspending import duties on certain weapons and military equipment (OJ L 25, 30.1.2003, pp. 1-6)

last update 10.11.2017