How to file and pay the VAT on imports

Importers that have a VAT registration must submit information and pay the VAT related to their importation on their initiative, by self-assessment, and by completing and filing a VAT return.

Here is how to proceed:

1

Work out the tax base and the amount of the tax

First, calculate the sum serving as the base of value added tax for imported goods. Include the following:

  • customs clearance value
  • duties and other charges collected by Customs
  • other importation expenses

Now you can work out the amount of VAT, based on the above. The VAT rates to use are the Finnish rates.

VAT amount = base × VAT rate (24%, 14% or 10%)

Read more:

2

Report your VAT on imports

Submit the information on a VAT return in MyTax.

Go to MyTax

Your information must relate to the customs date on the first decision on customs clearance, i.e. to the VAT return and VAT period during which that decision was issued. Look up the customs date under “Release for free circulation” on the new customs clearance system’s clearance document.

Fill in the import VAT and the tax basis on the return, under:

  • Imports of goods from outside the EU.
  • Tax on import of goods from outside the EU.

If the imported goods will be used for a purpose that entitles you to a VAT deduction, indicate the deductible VAT under Deductible for the tax period on the same VAT return.

3

Pay your VAT on imports

You can also pay this tax in MyTax. However, if you use your e-bank to pay it, do not forget to enter the reference number for self-assessed taxes. Payment information to fill in on the bank form can be checked in MyTax.

Go to MyTax

Example: Filing import VAT for goods for the right period, and information on deadlines

The customs decision is dated 21 January 2021. Accordingly, you can see that the decision was issued in January. VAT information on imported goods must then be submitted on your January VAT return, which must be filed no later than on 12 March. When you submit your VAT return, indicate the tax base, the amount of taxes and any deductions if the goods will be used for VAT-deductible purposes.

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Check the data from customs clearance decisions carefully before you file your VAT returns

You can use MyTax to run searches, by customs clearance decision, of data on imports (Go to All activities – Comparison data on VAT on imports). You can make use of comparison data when calculating the VAT basis and the amount of tax. Always check, however, that the comparison data is correct. 

Search the data for the period you choose, based on tax periods, or based on dates of customs clearance. Further search terms:

  • authorised representative’s name
  • customs clearance decision number
  • customs clearance value

To save the results, you can get the search results in a .csv file, and then save them in your workstation (click on Download as file).

Filter options for the results include “by decision number” and others (you can adjust the Filter feature as you prefer). After you select one of the decision numbers among your search results, further information will appear. This may be a reference to an Additional procedure relating to the customs clearance.

MyTax additionally shows a sum total (Customs’ comparison data on imports of goods), representing the import declaration data, and broken down by each tax period of your VAT returns. The total consists of customs values during the tax period according to customs clearance decisions, of the duties imposed by Customs, of taxes and other charges. See more data on your company’s imports, sorted by customs clearance decisions (click on Show detailed information).

You can obtain this data as a direct transfer to your company’s accounting software application. The following data on importation are available: customs clearance decision no, customs clearance date, and customs value. You can contact your commercial software vendor to find out how the data can be transferred to your software application directly.

However, you can receive the above data without creating a link to your accounting software if you are an Ilmoitin.fi user. Read more about data requests and queries through Ilmoitin.fi.

Please note the updated formats for companies that declare imports to Finnish Customs. The new import declarations are for goods to be released for free circulation. Finnish Customs uses new declaration formats as of 19 April 2021. Some changes are introduced to the customs clearance decisions due to the renewed declarations. For example, updates are made to the codes that indicate Additional procedure.

In addition, in the case of imports from another EU country to the Åland Islands or imports between Finland and the Åland Islands (customs clearance across the customs border), the customs value in the comparison data in MyTax is always €0.

Also note that for example in the case of goods of minor value cleared through customs, the comparison data in MyTax does not always include the customs value. More information  

In such a case, you must find out the customs value by yourself in order that the VAT basis could be calculated.

For more information, visit the Customs’ website.

How can I correct errors on the VAT return?

If you notice an error, such as a wrong tax basis or amount of tax, you must correct it. Correct the error(s) by filing a new return (a replacement tax return) for the period for which incorrect information was reported. This new return then replaces the earlier return. In the replacement return, resubmit all the VAT information correctly.

Example: The company has imported some goods and received a customs decision from Customs. The customs date is 15 January 2021. The company has provided information on the tax base and the amount of import VAT on its VAT return for January 2021.

Later, the filer of the customs declaration notices that the wrong product name was reported. The company remedies the errors on its earlier customs declaration. The change in the product name results in an increase in customs duties. Customs issues an amended customs decision to the company. The amended customs decision also affects the assessment of the tax basis.

The company must correct its VAT return. The company submits a new return and files it for January 2021, on the basis of the original customs date (15 Jan 2021). In this replacement declaration, the company corrects the import tax basis and the tax amount, and resubmits all VAT information for the tax period in question.

More information on the Customs website:

Read more about correcting a VAT return