The purchasing of goods within the EU is not subject to any customs duties as the free movement of goods between individual EU Member States is ensured.
In the event that goods are imported from outside the EU (these are referred to as “third countries”), whether ordered through an online store or imported through personal luggage, or imported classically like other goods (e.g. truck transport) to assume that these goods may be subject to customs duties such as import duties, excise duties (if any) and value added tax (VAT). Each of these charges has its own specificities related to both its rate and the final calculation for its payment.
It cannot be generally said that the same import duty rate applies to all imported goods. The amount depends on the type of goods, their use and their composition. Based on these characteristics, the goods are classified into so-called subheadings of the combined nomenclature of the Common Customs Tariff (hereinafter referred to as the “nomenclature classification of goods”) and assigned the appropriate rate of import duty. This Common Customs Tariff [.pdf; 31,50 MB; new Window] is applicable for 2019. If you assign a nomenclature classification to the goods, you can use the TARIC electronic application to learn all the measures that apply to their import , in which you only fill in the aforementioned nomenclature classification, the date of import and the country from which the goods are imported. You will then see all import duty rates that you have to pay.
The import duty is calculated on the basis of the rate (as explained above) and the basis on which the import duty will be calculated. This basis is the so-called customs value. This consists of the actual price of the goods and the amount of all the costs related to the import of these goods into the EU (e.g. transport costs outside the EU, handling, postal charges, etc.). The resulting amount of import duty is the product of the rate (in most cases expressed as a percentage) and the base.
In practice, there are cases where goods can be exempted from import duties when imported:
- if the goods are imported in a consignment (ordered through an online shop), they can be exempted from import duties (will not be paid on import), provided that the intrinsic value does not exceed EUR 150 per consignment, regardless of how many goods are in the consignment;
- if the goods are imported by you personally when returning from a third country in the personal luggage, they may be exempted from import duties, depending on the mode of transport, as follows:
- if you are traveling by air and the value of the goods does not exceed EUR 430
- if you are traveling by other means of transport and the value of the goods does not exceed EUR 300
- if the person is less than 15 years of age, regardless of the type of travel, and the value of the goods does not exceed EUR 150
Excise duties on imports to Slovakia
This payment is levied and then paid only if the goods are subject to excise duty (alcoholic beverage, tobacco, mineral oil).
As in the case of import duties, each product has its own rate of excise duty and the rules for determining the basis on which the excise duty is levied.
There is also excise duty where the goods are exempt from excise duty, depending on whether the goods are imported in a consignment (in this case, only if sent by a natural person in a third country directly to you - i.e. not through an online store) or brought in your personal luggage when traveling from a third country. Unlike import duty, the value of the goods is not important for the exemption, it is their quantity that is important (e.g. you have an exempt alcoholic beverage in excess of 22% of the volume of alcohol if you bring it in 1 liter).
All these quantities can be found in Slovak legislation, which you can refer to in the “Excise Duties in the Slovak Republic” section.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Like in the case of import duties, each imported product is subject to VAT. The basic tax rate is 20% of the VAT base. This is based on the sum of the customs value (as aforementioned), the amount of the calculated import duty and the amount of costs incurred within the EU, for example, from its transport to its destination, if not already included in the customs value. The resulting amount of VAT is the product of the rate and the base.
As with import duties or excise duties, there are cases where VAT is exempted from this payment on being imported, for example:
- if the goods are imported in the consignment (ordered via an online shop), they can be exempted from VAT if their intrinsic value does not exceed EUR 22. In case the value ranges between EUR 22 and EUR 150, the goods will be exempt from import duties but will not be exempt from VAT.
- if the goods are imported personally upon returning from a third country in the personal luggage, they may be exempt from VAT within the same limits as the exemption from import duties.
- if the goods subject to excise duty are imported, they may be exempt from VAT in the same quantities as in the excise duty exemption.
When importing goods, it should also be considered that each single product is presented to the customs authorities and they decide in the customs procedure whether to impose any customs duties or to exempt the goods from such duties. In order to carry out this proceeding, it is necessary to file a so-called customs declaration, which in most cases is submitted electronically. For the purpose of its submission, it is necessary for you to have electronic communication with customs authorities established via the Central Electronic Folder information system. If you are unfamiliar with customs clearance, filing and completion of the customs declaration as well as any other obligations you have toward the customs authorities in this procedure, we recommend that you contact any organization providing customs clearance services (e.g. shipping), which have experience with these duties and can represent you before the customs authorities on the basis of your authorization.
Excise taxes in the Slovak Republic
The system of excise duty taxation in the territory of the Slovak Republic is based on COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2008/118/EC [new Window] of 16 December 2008 on the general system of excise duties and repealing Directive 92/12/EEC [new Window].
Excise duties are divided into the following:
- excise duty on alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, alcohol...), regulated by Act No. 530/2011 Coll. [new Window; only Slovak language]
- excise duty on tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, tobacco...), regulated by Act No. 106/2004 Coll. [new Window; only Slovak language]
- excise duty on mineral oil (fuels, heating oils, ...), regulated by Act No. 98/2004 Coll. [new Window; only Slovak language]
- excise duty on electricity, coal and natural gas, regulated by Act No. 609/2007 Coll. [new Window; only Slovak language]
The wording of the above-mentioned Excise Tax Acts in the English version is available on the website of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic [new Window].
If you are interested in doing business with goods subject to any of the above excise duties, you need to take a number of steps to acquire all the necessary permits.
First of all, it is necessary to have an electronic communication with the financial administration established so that you can send the documents needed to issue the relevant authorizations (e.g. the application along with the appendices) as well as the tax return as an essential part of paying excise duties. Of course, not every registered entity will be obliged to pay the excise duty. This depends on the purpose of the business and the type of entity according to the specific Excise Tax Act.
Once this communication has been established, you will be provided with all the necessary documents necessary for the authorization from customs authorities. Within the authorization procedure, you will be assisted by the customs office to obtain the license according to your wishes of business activity and in compliance with the provisions of the relevant laws.
As an example, if you decide to open a pub, restaurant or shop where you will also sell other alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer (e.g. liqueurs, spirits). Here it is necessary to electronically apply to the customs office to issue a license to sell consumer packs of alcohol, to submit all documents (e.g. list of suppliers, etc.), because without this license it is not possible to sell such alcoholic beverages on premises.
More information in this section is divided follows:
More information for individual importers: