There is one fundamental aspect to consider when transporting goods across borders: taxes. Whether importing or exporting goods, most countries require payment of duties. In the context of the European Union, it is important to know that tariffs are harmonized and are the same for all EU member countries.
Within the EU, the application of customs duties varies depending on the value of the imported products and the type of goods as well as their origin. In the case of Spain, there are several types of tariffs that are applied by customs:
Value-added or ad valorem duties
These duties are calculated as a percentage of the customs value of the imported goods. In other words, the more valuable the product, the higher the rate to be paid.
It should be noted that the customs value is determined according to special rules and may include the purchase price, transportation costs and other related costs.
Unlike ad valorem duties, specific duties are set based on a physical quantity of the imported product, such as weight, length, or volume. This means that the customs tariff is calculated on the basis of a certain quantity of the product, regardless of its customs value.
They are a combination of value-added tariffs and specific tariffs. The structure may vary and will be adapted to the specific needs of each situation.
They favor trade between two or more countries that have reached an agreement. Setting zero tariffs eliminates or significantly reduces the tax on goods, which facilitates the movement of goods between these countries and promotes trade cooperation.
Depending on where they are collected, duties in Spain are divided into two main categories:
These are taxes levied on all goods entering Spain from non-EU countries. The main purpose of these tariffs is to encourage the purchase of domestic products, as making foreign goods more expensive is intended to protect domestic industry.
These duties may be specific rates, i.e., a fixed amount per unit or weight of the imported product, or ad valorem duties, which are a percentage of the value of the goods.
Export duties, on the other hand, are levied on products shipped from Spain to other countries.
Tariffs of this type are less common and are usually applied to primary products to increase tax revenues or to affect the overall price of these products on the international market.
How to calculate the customs duties in Spain?
Customs duties in Spain are calculated on the basis of three main elements:
The starting point is the customs value of the goods, which is based on the amount of money the buyer pays the seller for the goods. This value is adjusted according to the Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) agreed between the two parties, generally using the CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) Incoterms for the calculation.
This is where the classification of the imported product according to the “Harmonized System” comes into play, a global nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization in which each product is assigned a series of codes.
Each tariff code is assigned a tax rate that indicates the percentage to be applied to the customs value to determine the payment of the corresponding duties.
The HS (Harmonized System) codes are used in all WTO member countries and determine the tariff rates for individual types of goods. It should be noted, however, that in some countries or regions specific adjustments to the tariff systems may be made. For example, the United States uses the HTS code, while the European Union uses the TARIC tariff code.
Origin of the goods
The origin of goods also plays a crucial role in determining import restrictions and tariffs.
It is important to check if there is a preferential agreement between the country of origin of the goods and Spain, as this can significantly affect customs duties and import relief.
How much are the customs duties in Spain?
In Spain, value added tax (VAT) is levied on imported products. However, it should be noted that there are some exceptions in certain areas. In the Canary Islands, for example, it is replaced by the IGIC with a different percentage, and in Ceuta and Melilla the IPSI is applied.
The tax is calculated according to the characteristics and value of the imported product. The general tax rate is 21%, but for certain types of products it can be reduced to 10% (reduced rate) or even 4% (heavily reduced rate).
It is also worth mentioning that all goods imported into Spain with a value greater than 22 euros are subject to VAT, provided that there is an economic transaction, regardless of whether it is carried out by a company or a private individual. In addition, “gifts” between private individuals with a value of more than 45 euros must also be taxed.
Customs services in Spain
To streamline international trade and ensure customs compliance, Spain has a wide range of customs services to help both businesses and individuals efficiently manage import and export processes.
This network of services consists mainly of three basic elements:
- Customs brokers: specialized professionals who provide advice and facilitate the import and export process.
- Electronic customs clearance: advanced technology to streamline customs procedures to make the flow of goods more efficient.
- Customs Consultancy: an important service that provides personalized advice and assistance in the interpretation of and compliance with customs regulations.
The combination of these elements in the customs service network contributes significantly to the success and efficiency of trade operations in the country and promotes an environment conducive to international trade.
However, when we look at the future of customs, we are faced with a question: what will the customs of tomorrow look like?
It is undeniable that constant development and adaptation to the changing demands of international trade is essential to maintain the efficiency and success of customs operations.
Customs of the future must be prepared to integrate new technologies, further simplify processes and keep pace with global trends to continue to effectively facilitate the flow of goods and customs compliance.