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Exemption from VAT: final importation of goods

Exemption from VAT: final importation of goods



Directive 2009/132/EC determining the scope of the Directive 2006/112/EC as regards exemption from value added tax on the final import of certain goods


It defines the scope of the exemptions from value-added tax (VAT) and the rules for their implementation referred to in Directive 2006/112/EC (the EU’s common system of value added tax).


EU countries must grant the exemptions from VAT on the final importation of certain goods under the conditions fixed by them in order to prevent any distortion of competition or evasion of tax.

Exemption from VAT on importation may be granted on:

  • personal property imported by natural persons transferring their normal place of residence from a non-EU country to an EU country;
  • goods imported on the occasion of a marriage;
  • personal property acquired by inheritance;
  • importation of school outfits, educational materials and related household effects;
  • imports of negligible value (worth maximum €22)
  • capital goods and equipment imported on the transfer of activities;
  • importation of certain agricultural products or products intended for agricultural use;
  • importation of therapeutic substances, medicines, laboratory animals and biological or chemical substances;
  • goods imported for use by charitable or philanthropic organisations;
  • goods imported in the context of international relations;
  • importation of goods for the promotion of trade;
  • goods imported for examination, analysis or test purposes;
  • consignments sent to organisations protecting copyrights or industrial and commercial patent rights;
  • tourist information literature;
  • various documents intended for official bodies;
  • ancillary materials for the storage and protection of goods during their transport;
  • litter, fodder and feedingstuffs for animals during their transport;
  • fuel and lubricants present in land motor vehicles and in special containers;
  • goods for the construction, upkeep or ornamentation of war memorials;
  • coffins, funerary urns and ornamental funerary articles.

This directive does not prevent EU countries from maintaining agreements concluded with non-EU countries that provide for special exemptions.

For some of the abovementioned fields, certain goods are excluded from the exemption, in particular, alcoholic and tobacco products.


Directive (EU) 2017/2455 amends Directive 2009/132/EC by deleting its Title IV relating to imports of negligible value. Thus, with effect from 1 January 2021, it eliminates the VAT exemption for small consignments (worth maximum €22). Furthermore, the directive extends the current EU one-stop shop to distance sales of goods, both intra-EU and from non-EU countries.


It has applied since 30 November 2009.


For more information, see:


Council Directive 2009/132/EC of 19 October 2009 determining the scope of Article 143(b) and (c) of Directive 2006/112/EC as regards exemption from value-added tax on the final importation of certain goods (OJ L 292, 10.11.2009, pp. 5-30)

last update 23.10.2018