The Transit/Free Zones Section
Disclaimer: The following text is being provided for information purposes only, and nothing in the text supplants the actual legislation, for which appropriate links are provided..
A brief overview of the Standard Transit Procedure
Union Transit is a suspensive customs procedure which allows goods not in free circulation, and those few Union goods for which Union Transit is required, to move within the European Union (EU) while ensuring that any charges due on these goods at their country of destination are secured. Whilst under the procedure, the payment of any customs duty or other charges is suspended.
Union Transit is also used to control the movement of such goods to and from Andorra, San Marino and the “special territories” of the EU (such as the Channel Islands). The procedure is extended to cover the movement of goods across the EFTA countries by virtue of a separate customs convention and is then known as “Common Transit”.
Status of goods
Goods are divided into two categories:
(a) Goods which have Union status (“Union goods”):
These are goods which:
- originate in the Union or
- have been imported from a non-EU country and have been put into free circulation (see below) in the Union or
- have been manufactured in the Union from materials or parts imported from a non-EU country, provided the imported materials or parts are in free circulation.
The term “free circulation” is used to describe imported goods on which all import
formalities have been complied with and any customs duties or other charges have been paid and not refunded in whole or in part. Goods originating in the Union are also in free circulation unless a CAP exports refund or other refund has been claimed on them. Generally Union goods can move within the EU without any Customs controls.
(b) Goods without Union status (“non-Union goods”)
These are goods which:
- originate from outside the Union on which no duty has been paid and no import formalities have been complied with.
The types of Transit movement
There are two types of Common/Union transit movement:
(a) The External (T1) procedure is used for:
- non-Union goods on which import duties have not been paid and
- Union goods subject to a CAP refund.
(b1) The Internal (T2) procedure is used for Union goods:
- moving from one Member State to another through an EFTA country
- moving overland to an EFTA country and
- when moving from San Marino (except for goods falling within Chapters 72 and 732 of the Tariff) and when moving to or from Andorra (goods falling within Chapters 25-97 of the Tariff).
(b2) The internal (T2F) procedure is used for Union goods:
- moving to, from or between the “special territories”– also called the “non-fiscal territories”: The Channel Islands, the Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guiana, Réunion, Mount Athos, and the Åland Islands.
The Transit Manual
The purpose of this manual is to provide a tool to promote a better understanding of how the transit procedure works and the roles of the various participants, and explain how the customs status of goods can be determined. It is also a tool to better ensure a harmonised application of the transit regulations and an equal treatment of all operators.
Please follow the link below to peruse the Transit Manual: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/sites/taxation/files/resources/documents/customs/procedural
The Free Zone procedure
Entry into a free zone is one of two customs special procedures for storage (the other is customs warehousing). Under a storage procedure, non-Union goods may be stored in the EU without being subject to:
- import duty;
- other charges as provided for under other relevant provisions in force
- commercial policy measures, insofar as they do not prohibit the entry or exit of goods into or from the customs territory of the Union.
Union goods may be placed under a storage procedure in accordance with Union legislation governing specific fields, or in order to benefit from a decision granting repayment or remission of import duty.
Usually no limit is imposed on the period that goods can remain under a storage procedure, although under exceptional circumstances Customs may set a time-limit for the storage procedure to be discharged.
Goods taken out of a free zone into another part of the customs territory of the Union or placed under a customs procedure shall be regarded as non-Union goods unless their customs status as Union goods has been proven. However, for the purposes of applying export duty and export licences or export control measures laid down under the common agricultural or commercial policies, the goods shall be regarded as Union goods, unless established otherwise.
The customs authorities may impose restrictions or prohibitions on certain types of activities in a free zone and may prohibit certain persons not providing the necessary guarantees of compliance from carrying out activities in a free zone.
The setting up of a free zone requires an authorisation or a national legal act for which an application may be lodged. An application in writing should be made by the operator to the Customs office responsible for the free zone (The Transit/Free Zones Section). The free zone must be enclosed, with defined entry and exit points. The perimeter and the entry and exit points of the area will be subject to customs supervision.
Member States must communicate to the EU Commission information on their free zones which are in operation.
The principal legislation governing the Union transit procedure, customs status and the free zone procedure is contained in:
The Union Customs Code (Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the Union Customs Code)
The UCC Delegated Act (Commission Delegated Regulation No 2015/2446 of 28 July 2015 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards detailed rules concerning certain provisions of the Union Customs Code)
The UCC Implementing Act (Commission Implementing Regulation No 2015/2447 of 24 November 2015 laying down detailed rules for implementing certain provisions of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the Union Customs Code)
The UCC Transitional Delegated Act (Commission Delegated Regulation No 2016/341 of 17 December 2015 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards transitional rules for certain provisions of the Union Customs Code where the relevant electronic systems are not yet operational and amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446)
The UCC Work Programme (Commission Implementing Decision No 2016/578 of 11 April 2016 establishing the Work Programme relating to the development and deployment of the electronic systems provided for in the Union Customs Code)
The legislation governing the Common transit procedure is contained in the Convention between the European Union and the EFTA Countries on a Common Transit Procedure (OJ No. L226 of 13/8/87), amended by EU/EFTA Joint Committee Decision No 1/2016 of 28 April 2016 in order to be aligned with the Union Customs Code.