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As of the start of July, all goods arriving from outside the EU are subject to VAT and must be declared. When you order goods from foreign online shops, it is useful to know the basics before you make any purchases. Read our tips and avoid unpleasant surprises such as unforeseen payments and unnecessary delays.

Ordering goods online is often effortless, and the variety of internationally sold products is appealing.

Small goods ordered from remote locations abroad can seem affordable. However, a person who orders such goods should remember to add the amount of possible taxes and customs duties to the final price, as well as any transport costs and other expenses. As of 1 July 2021, small consignments with a maximum value of 22 euros that are delivered from outside the EU are also subject to value added tax. Goods must be declared as well.

Five tips from Customs for smooth e-shopping

  1. Find out the country your goods are delivered from. Some online shops may be based in Europe, but are in fact delivered products from outside the EU. The country of dispatch is an essential piece of information in terms of customs clearance.
  2. Assess your tax and possible customs payments with our Customs Duty Calculator. A purchase that initially may have seemed affordable can turn out to be surprisingly expensive. You will avoid unpleasant surprises when you estimate the amount of payments in advance. Note that you should check the tulli.fi website for any possible anti-dumping duties and additional customs duties. Be sure to include any possible transport costs and other payments in your estimate.
  3. Find out if you are paying VAT already at the time of purchase. If the seller is registered with the joint EU value added taxation scheme (IOSS), it is possible that you pay VAT already when you make your purchase in the online shop. This is possible with purchases of a maximum value of 150 euros.
  4. Check if you must see to customs clearance yourself. If VAT is paid at the time of purchase, then Posti or some other transport company may see to customs clearance on your behalf. Follow the instructions of the transport company. If the online shop does not charge VAT or the value of your purchase exceeds 150 euros, you must personally see to customs clearance, as well as pay taxes and any possible customs costs.
  5. Prepare now; the date of arrival is essential. All goods delivered from outside the EU must be declared and VAT must be paid for them if they are delivered on 1 July 2021 or after that date. The date when the goods were ordered is not significant in this respect.

This is what we order; everything from car spare parts to tents

Finns order a great deal of goods online, and the COVID pandemic has increased the popularity of e-shopping even more. In 2020, altogether 268 000 customs clearances took place in our Import Declaration Service for private persons. Of countries outside the EU, most products are ordered from China, the United States and the United Kingdom. The range of products is extensive.

– The most commonly declared goods are T-shirts and other clothing, cosmetics, various electronics and toys. Typically, our customers search the Customs Duty Calculator for roughly the same products, says senior customs officer Nadja Painokallio who is responsible for the development of e-services meant for private customers.

– As of late, it has been interesting to see that people declare more tents than usual. Camping out in nature due to COVID-19 might be the reason.

Since, as a rule, it is currently not necessary to declare consignments not exceeding the value of 22 euros, there are no specific statistics on the most popular small items. Still, recurring items that undergo customs controls include small electronics, beauty products, clothes and phone supplies.

Source: Finnish Customs service

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