Import of goods - everything you need to know


What is the import of goods?

The basic legal act regulating tax issues related to the import of goods is the Act of March 11, 2004 on tax on goods and services. According to it, import is the transport of goods from the territory of a non-EU country to the territory of the Republic of Poland. In other words, it is the import of goods from the territory of a third country to the territory of the country.

The act also defines the goods. They mean all movables and all forms of energy, buildings and structures or their parts, which are the subject of activities subject to tax on goods and services, which are listed in the classifications issued on the basis of the provisions on official statistics, as well as land.

VAT taxpayers on the import of goods

The taxpayers required to pay the levy related to the tax on the import of goods are legal persons, organizational units without legal personality and natural persons who:

  • are obliged to pay customs duties, also in the case when, on the basis of customs regulations, the imported goods are duty free or the duty on the goods has been suspended, in part or in full, or if a preferential, reduced or zero duty rate has been applied;
  • are entitled to use the customs procedure including inward processing, temporary clearance, processing under customs control, including persons to whom, in accordance with separate regulations, the rights and obligations related to these procedures have been transferred.

The tax base

The taxable amount in the import of goods, in accordance with the provisions of the VAT Act, is:

  • customs value increased by the duty due (in accordance with the SAD document),
  • if the subject of import are goods subject to excise duty, the taxable amount is the customs value plus the duty and excise duty due.

The VAT Act also provides for a special method of calculating the tax base for the import of goods under the outward processing procedure and the import of goods covered by the temporary admission procedure with partial exemption from transport duties, as well as the procedure of processing under customs control. In the case of import of goods under the outward processing procedure, the taxable amount is the difference between the customs value of the compensating or replacement products released for free circulation and the value of temporarily exported goods, increased by the duty due. On the other hand, in the case of importing goods under the temporary admission procedure with partial exemption from shipping duties and the processing under customs control, the taxable amount is the customs value increased by the duty due, which would be due if the goods were placed under the release for free circulation procedure.

In the case of import, the provisions on corporate and personal income tax only indicate that costs in foreign currencies are converted into Polish zlotys at the average exchange rates of the National Bank of Poland announced on the day preceding the incurring the cost. In practice, the average exchange rate of the National Bank of Poland is used for the valuation of imported goods, used by customs offices to determine the customs value and appearing in the SAD customs clearance document.

Exemptions in the import of goods

Pursuant to the provisions of the Value Added Tax Act, import tax is exempt:

  • goods placed under the inward processing procedure under the suspension system within the meaning of customs regulations,
  • goods placed under the temporary admission procedure with total relief from import duty,
  • gold by the National Bank of Poland,
  • goods returning from the territory of a third country, duty-free, performed by the taxpayer who previously exported these goods,
  • to ports by sea fishermen of their own catches, not yet delivered, unprocessed or preserved for the purpose of delivery,
  • human organs and breast milk,
  • blood, plasma in full composition, blood cells or blood preparations of human origin, non-drugs,
  • currencies, bank notes and coins used as legal tender, with the exception of collectors' items which are gold, silver or other metal coins and banknotes which are not normally used as legal tender or which have numismatic value,
  • goods by the armed forces of countries other than the Republic of Poland that are signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty for the use of such forces or civilian personnel accompanying them or for the purpose of supplying their messes and canteens, if these forces take part in joint defense operations,
  • gas in the gas system or electricity in the power system.

Other exemptions:

  • import of personal belongings, due to the change of place of residence,
  • import of items from inheritance,
  • import of items for the personal needs of a student or student,
  • import of goods included in parcels - with a value lower than 22 EUR,
  • import of fixed assets and equipment of an entrepreneur transferring business activity,
  • import of agricultural and forestry products from border farms,
  • import of goods in personal luggage with a value of up to EUR 300,
  • import of laboratory animals and biological substances.

It is worth remembering that pursuant to Art. 51 (1) of the VAT Act, the import of goods placed in shipments sent from the territory of a third country directly to the recipient residing in the territory of the country is exempt from tax (if the total value of the goods in the shipment does not exceed EUR 22). This exemption does not apply to goods imported by way of a shipping order and does not apply to:

  • alcoholic beverages,
  • tobacco and tobacco products,
  • perfumes and toilet waters.

Customs clearance procedures: general and simplified

The general principle of VAT deduction allows the taxpayer to exercise the right to deduct input tax on the import of goods in the settlement for one of the next two accounting periods.

In a situation where the goods are subject to the simplified procedure, in which the tax period is a calendar month, the taxpayer may settle the amount of tax due on the import of goods in the tax declaration submitted for the period in which the tax obligation for the import of these goods arose. It is a simplification in relation to the general principle of VAT settlements on the import of goods.

From April 1, 2011, facilitations were introduced in the field of settling VAT on the import of goods directly in the declaration. In addition, the obligation to provide a security for the tax amount as a condition for settling the tax on import of goods in the tax declaration has been abolished.

The obligation to provide the customs authority with documents confirming the settlement of the amount of tax due on import in the tax declaration within four months after the month in which the tax obligation for the import of goods arose was also changed. If the taxpayer does not submit the required documents within the specified period, he will lose the option to settle the tax on the import of goods in the tax return with regard to the amount of tax that he was supposed to settle in the tax return, and is obliged to pay the customs authority the amount of tax together with interest.

If the taxpayer does not meet the deadline for presenting to the customs authority the documents confirming the settlement of VAT due on import in the tax return, the head of the tax office may deprive this taxpayer of the right to settle the tax for a period of 36 months.

Payment of tax

The taxpayer is obliged to pay the calculated amount of tax within ten days from the date of notification by the customs authority of the amount of the tax liability. If the customs authority finds that the tax amount has been incorrectly stated in the customs declaration, the head of the customs office issues a decision specifying the tax in the correct amount. The head of the customs office can independently determine the amount of tax in the decision on customs duties. In other cases, the taxpayer is obliged to pay the amount of tax due within the time limit and under the conditions specified for the payment of duty, also when the goods have been duty-free or the duty rates have been suspended or reduced to 0%.

However, it is possible to indicate a different date for payment of the tax on the import of goods. It is decided by the Minister of Finance, who may, by way of an ordinance, define other tax payment deadlines and conditions for the application of other deadlines, taking into account the provisions of the European Community and the implementation of the state budget. The minister issued such a regulation, in which he specified that if the goods were to be placed on the territory of the country by a simplified procedure, in which the tax period is a calendar month, the taxpayer shall pay the amount of the calculated tax by the 16th day of the month following that tax period, no later however, than before submitting the VAT return in which it shows these amounts.

This provision may apply only if the taxpayer presents to the customs authority (where the taxpayer settles the tax on the import of goods) a current certificate issued not earlier than six months before the importation, which confirms:

  • no arrears in taxes constituting state budget revenues and no arrears in relation to social security contributions,
  • registration as an active VAT taxpayer (not less than six months).

The condition of presenting the certificates does not apply if the customs authority has valid certificates submitted by the taxpayer.

Documents necessary for customs clearance

In order to clear the goods through customs, in particular, the following documents are required:

  • SAD customs declaration,
  • an invoice from a foreign contractor on the basis of which the customs value of the goods is determined,
  • provisional invoice or pro forma invoice in the absence of an invoice; specification of goods or a goods list, if the invoice does not fulfill the role of a specification,
  • documents necessary for the application of the tariff preferences; customs value declaration,
  • permit, permit or other documents, if required in connection with the export or import of goods,
  • authorization for Universal Express Sp. z o.o. to declare goods and represent the company before the customs authority,
  • current company documents (REGON; NIP; confirmation of having a bank account; confirmation of company registration depending on the type of entity, such as e.g. KRS, certificate of entry in the business register or other),
  • other documents needed to determine the customs value and to determine the tax base of goods,
  • confirmation of lodging the security for the amount resulting from the customs debt, if the security has been provided,
  • a certificate issued by the manufacturer or an authorized research facility, containing the chemical and raw material composition (up to 100%) and information required by the notes to individual sections of the Customs Tariff, if such a document is necessary to determine the tariff classification of the goods,
  • other documents, if required on the basis of separate provisions or specific provisions.

The invoice from the contractor should include in particular:

  • the name and address of the contracting party issuing the invoice,
  • the name and address of the buyer,
  • name and address of the recipient if the buyer is not the recipient - sequence number, place and date of issue,
  • type and quantity of goods, unit price and their value expressed in convertible currency, in currency
  • Polish or in a foreign currency that is not a convertible currency,
  • delivery terms (e.g.according to INCOTERMS 2000),
  • information about the country of origin.

Reference Data Subsystem

On July 1, 2010, the Ministry of Finance introduced an electronic reporting system, ie the Reference Data Subsystem (PDR). All companies using customs clearance are required to register in this system, and customs clearance without registration in PDR will not be possible. Courier shipments are an exception. The regulations allow each company to register in the PDR system independently or by a customs agency. The transition to the electronic system of customs declarations assumes the future withdrawal of the paper SAD document - it will be replaced by an electronic form called PZC. New documents in xml format will be the basis for posting the import in the accounting books.

To register a company:

  • fill in the PDR Registration Form, which lists all your representatives in the field of customs services (on this basis, they will be entered into the system),
  • attach a statement regarding the instructions, the original or an officially certified copy of Authorizations and Assignment for all representatives, confirmation of payment of stamp duty (PLN 17 for each authorization), confirmed by authorized persons, a copy of the National Court Register or a certificate of business activity.

Any subsequent changes will require an update to be submitted in the PDR system.

Due to its specificity, the turnover of courier items is excluded from the obligation to establish an entity-representative relationship in PDR, which in practice means that entrepreneurs served by courier companies may, but do not have to, indicate courier companies in the Registration Form - PDR and may, but they do not have to submit the relevant authorizations (if they indicate a courier company in the Card, they will also have to provide the authorization).

Import of goods in practice

In which country will the import of goods be recognized when goods from a third country are first imported to a member state other than Poland and then moved to Poland?

Whether it will be an import of goods or an intra-Community acquisition - depends on whether these goods will be subject to customs clearance in a Community country, or whether they will be imported only to perform, for example, inward processing services, they will be placed under the temporary admission procedure, bonded warehouse or will only pass through this country in transit. In the first case, the import of goods will take place in a Community country, and their transfer to Poland will be an intra-Community acquisition for a Polish company. In the second case, the import of goods will take place in Poland.