Value added taxation of imported goods

From 1 January 2018, the Finnish Tax Administration will be responsible for VAT on imported goods if the importer is entered in the VAT Register. The importer must self-assess the import VAT, and both declare it and pay it to the Tax Administration. The customs declaration should still be submitted to Finnish Customs.

"Imported goods" refers to goods brought into the EU from outside the EU. The goods are considered to have been imported into Finland if Finland is the point of entry to EU for the goods.

When is the Tax Administration responsible for import VAT?

The Tax Administration is responsible for import VAT if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • The importer is in the Finnish VAT Register (it is not sufficient that the VAT registration pending).
  • The customs declaration for the imported goods has been approved on or after 1 January 2018. The approval date is indicated on the customs decision.
  • If the importer is a sole trader and the goods are imported for business purposes. If this is the case, the Business ID rather than the personal identity code should be used for import purposes.

When is responsibility for VAT retained by Customs?

Customs remains responsible for import VAT in situations when the importer is not in the Finnish VAT Register. Customs will be responsible for import VAT when, for instance, the importer is:

  • a private consumer
  • a sole trader if the imported goods are unrelated to the business of the importer. If this is the case, the personal identity code rather than the Business ID should be used for import purposes. This indicates to Customs that the goods are intended for personal use.
  • a foreign business that is not in the Finnish VAT Register.

In addition, Customs is responsible for handling goods imported in contravention to customs regulations, such as goods that have been smuggled or otherwise not presented to Customs. Customs is also responsible for the VAT on such imported goods.

Example: Competent authority

The importer of the goods is in the Finnish VAT Register. The importer submits a declaration on the imported goods to Customs on 18 January 2018. Customs approves the customs declaration on the same day. The competent authority is the Tax Administration, as the importer of the goods is liable to pay VAT and the customs declaration was approved on or after 1 January 2018. The importer of the goods self-assesses the VAT and declares it in its VAT return on its own initiative.

Who is liable to pay VAT on imported goods?

The party liable to pay VAT on imported goods is the importer of record, that is, the party in whose name the customs declaration is filed. Read more: How do I submit a customs declaration

The filer of the import documents may also be an indirect representative. In such a case, the representative acts in its own name on behalf of the principal. The party liable to pay taxes is then the importer of the goods, namely, the principal. If you act as an indirect representative, provide the Business ID or personal identity code of your principal on the customs declaration. Use a personal identity code if the goods are imported by a private individual for personal use. In the case of indirect representation, the Åland Islands are an exception to the main rule.


More information: Brexit’s impact on taxation