Coronavirus: Commission waives customs duties and VAT on the import of medical equipment from non-EU countries

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The Commission has today decided to approve requests from Member States and the UK to temporarily waive customs duties and VAT on the import of medical devices, and protective equipment, from third countries in order to help in the fight against coronavirus. This will make it easier financially to get the medical equipment that doctors, nurses and patients desperately need.

The Commission has swiftly approved requests received from all Member States.

This measure includes masks and protective equipment, as well as testing kits, ventilators and other medical equipment. It will apply for a period of 6 months, with a possibility for further extension.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered a video message on today’s decision. Watch it here.

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy said: “In this emergency it is vital that medical equipment and devices get quickly to where they are needed. By waiving customs and VAT duties on imports of these products from outside the EU, the European Commission will help make those products more accessible. I want to express again my deep respect and gratitude to health workers across Europe. Today’s measure should help them receive the equipment they need to protect themselves and continue saving lives.”

On 20 March 2020, the Commission invited all Member States, as well as the UK, to submit a request to waive customs duties and VAT on the importation of protective and other medical equipment from third countries. All Member States and the UK have done so. Today’s decision takes effect retroactively from 30 January.

Background

Current EU legislation has exceptional tools available in order to help victims of disasters, which can be used to face the unprecedented health crisis caused by coronavirus.

EU customs legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009) provides for the possibility to grant duty relief for the “benefit of disaster victims”. It can be applied to imports by State organisations or approved charitable or philanthropic organisations. To grant relief, a decision from the Commission is required, acting at the request of the Member States concerned.

Similarly, EU VAT law (Council Directive 2009/132/EC) has mirroring provisions as regards exemption from VAT on the final importation of certain goods.

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