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Customs cost savings

Through smart use of commodity codes and regulations
Customs declarations are indispensable when importing goods from outside the EU. Has this process become second nature to you? Do you consistently work with an Article Master File and apply the same commodity codes without a second thought? If so, it’s worthwhile to reevaluate and ensure your classifications are accurate. Proper classification not only streamlines the process but can also result in significant time, energy, and financial savings. Moreover, there are additional opportunities to economize on customs duties. Are you proactively seeking ways to leverage customs regulations to your advantage? Implementing a strategic savings program could potentially reduce your import duties and taxes by up to 50%. (Source: Deloitte, 2010) This article provides valuable tips to help you optimize your customs declarations and maximize savings. Seize the opportunity!

Intelligent goods reclassification

Accurately determining the appropriate commodity codes for goods is a challenging task. Once you have pinpointed the correct codes, storing them in an Article Master File can streamline future processes, eliminating the need for repeated deep dives into the complex world of commodity codes. This approach is undeniably efficient.

However, it also presents a potential pitfall. Commodity codes and their associated classification rules are continually updated, introducing new codes and altering existing ones. Timely identification and application of the most accurate commodity code for your products can lead to a reduction in import duties, yielding substantial financial benefits.

Consequently, it is crucial to periodically review and update the commodity codes in your Article Master File, even for goods that you regularly import. The specific commodity code assigned to a product can significantly impact the import duties levied, and strategic reclassification of goods to align with codes that carry lower duties can result in considerable cost savings. Employing the classification rules judiciously to optimize commodity code selection is a smart financial strategy.

Import duties to enhance competitiveness of EU countries

To fully grasp the intricacies of the following systems, it’s crucial to understand that import duties and taxes are strategically implemented to bolster the competitiveness of EU countries. Factors such as lower wages and reduced raw material costs outside the EU can make importing goods an attractive proposition. However, this scenario poses a challenge for companies within the EU, producing similar goods and potentially leading to a diminished market share. Imposing import duties on non-EU goods helps to level the playing field, enhancing the competitive edge of EU-based companies.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that if the imported products are not destined for the European market, the associated import duties could render them unnecessarily expensive. This, in turn, could potentially erode the competitiveness of EU companies.

Bearing this context in mind, it becomes clearer why import duties are commonly applied to goods brought in from outside the EU. Simultaneously, it also explains the rationale behind various exceptions to these duties.

Tariff suspension for non-EU imports

If you import goods from outside the EU, but there are no suppliers of the same goods within the EU, then there is no competition. Import duties are intended to improve the competitive position of companies within the EU. However, if there are no companies within the EU that supply the required goods, then import duties are redundant. In that case, a request can be made to apply tariff suspension. It is worth noting that this tariff suspension is more readily granted for raw materials and semi-finished products than for finished products that are resold. 

Inward processing

Inward processing is another customs regime that allows for the exemption of import duties. The aim of inward processing is to relieve products, which are manufactured in the EU but do not enter the European market, from import duties and taxes.

This scheme enables the manufacturing of products within the EU using raw materials imported from outside the EU, without the obligation to pay import duties. The crucial condition here is that the processed raw materials must not be traded within the EU.

Consider the following example:

You import soybean oil from a non-EU country under an inward processing license, which permits you to process or transform the goods without incurring import duties.
Alternatively, you have the option to resell the unprocessed soybean oil under license to a third party within the EU.
This third party then processes the soybean oil into a final product and sells it to customers outside the EU. Provided that there is proof of export outside the EU, the soybean oil remains exempt from import duties.

Storage of union goods under the customs warehousing procedure

When an importer declares parts for free circulation and discovers a defect in one of the parts that was present at the time of release, they may apply for a refund and opt to place the defective part under the customs warehousing procedure. Upon being placed in customs warehousing, the part is considered a non-Union good, making a prompt return highly beneficial.


In cases where imported goods are not ultimately traded within the EU, perhaps due to dissatisfaction with the product, and the product is either returned under customs supervision or destroyed, import duties are not applicable.

Using a Bonded Warehouse

While returns do not incur import duties, storage costs can accumulate. Typically, Union and non-Union goods should not be stored together due to potential identification challenges. Separate storage in different rooms, containers, or silos can be expensive, not just in terms of space but also because of the customs clearance required for various batches.

There are, however, cost-saving opportunities.

Goods can be commonly stored if the following three conditions are met:
  • The goods are classified under the same eight-digit Combined Nomenclature code.
  • The goods are of the same commercial quality.
  • The goods have the same technical characteristics.
However, it is mandatory that the accounting records clearly differentiate between the types of goods, their customs status, and, if applicable, their origin.

In such circumstances, the strategic classification of goods can yield significant benefits, enabling common storage and subsequently reducing both storage and administrative costs.

Take the following scenario as an example:

Imagine importing a container holding 1,000 pieces of clothing, all falling under the customs category clothing”. You have the option to store all these items together in a single location, necessitating customs clearance for just one batch of goods. Conversely, if you were to store the clothing in two separate locations, you would incur the costs of clearing two distinct batches of goods, not to mention the additional storage space required.

Demurrage and detention 

Storing goods incurs expenses, as does prolonged retention of goods at a particular location. Demurrage refers to the fees levied by shipping companies when a vessel is forced to remain in port beyond the scheduled time. Detention, on the other hand, pertains to the costs associated with extended usage of a container.

Delays in customs clearance are the primary contributors to demurrage and detention charges. These delays may occur for various reasons, such as inaccurate or incomplete presentation of commodity codes and descriptions, or failure to have all necessary documents and goods properly organized and available when required.

Language barriers can further complicate the process, leading to customs officials rejecting shipments due to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the content. In such cases, it becomes a matter of effectively communicating and clarifying the situation to resolve the issue.

Ensuring that all customs documents are meticulously prepared, with precise commodity codes and accurate descriptions, is crucial. It not only facilitates smoother customs clearance but also helps in avoiding the financial burdens of demurrage and detention. Attention to detail in this aspect of the import process can lead to significant cost savings and a more efficient workflow.

Maximizing customs cost efficiency with comprehensive information

Navigating through the complexities of customs duties can be a daunting task, with substantial savings to be made through strategic use of commodity coding, such as through inward processing or reclassification. To fully capitalize on these opportunities, access to comprehensive and up-to-date information on commodity codes and the associated tariffs is crucial. However, this information is often dispersed across various platforms, may be challenging to search, or might even be temporarily inaccessible.

Taric Support emerges as a one-stop solution, offering a centralized platform to access all the requisite customs information for implementing savings programs effectively. The platform ensures that you have access to the most current customs data, consolidated in a user-friendly and easily navigable application. It provides an extensive nomenclature, complete with descriptions available in all EU languages, alongside corresponding tariffs and a variety of calculative tools.

Moreover, Taric Support facilitates clear communication with suppliers or customers, enabling you to convey information about the goods nomenclature in their native language. This feature not only enhances understanding but also strengthens business relationships.

With Taric Support, you can easily search for smart savings opportunities. Ready to give it a try? Taric Support is free for the first 14 days.


As a final tip, with TARIC Support you can also save on indirect customs costs. Namely, the costs you incur in arranging customs matters. Of course, you save time and therefore money by getting all the information on one screen. But you can save even more with automation. Taric Support offers several ways to automate processes, such as using the API or automatically extracting the data relevant to you using the ABC module.

July 282023

At Taric Support, we’re obsessed by customs data.

As customs information experts ourselves, we love to dive into the nitty-gritty details. We feel that seeking out complex legislative information is a thrill. We love to study all possible data sources meticulously so that we can assure that all information for a commodity code is complete and up-to-date. And so we also know what it takes to meet all customs formalities.

Read our manifesto