Brexit Impact on Hauliers, Freight Forwarders & Exporters

From a continental perspective, 56.8% of Irish exports by value are delivered to other European countries and this figure is expected to grow further.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the British transit route when one considers that two-thirds of Irish exporters go through the UK. But will the UK land bridge remain the quickest and most efficient way to EU mainland?

Currently road transport through the UK takes 12 hours on average whereas the Carriage Ro-Ro Ferry Services may take up to three times as long to get to the same destination.

In terms of delays — taking into consideration the worst case scenario where border controls exist — we are talking about four different check points between Ireland and the EU mainland. The first upon exiting Ireland, the next two while entering and exiting the UK and the last on entrance to the EU.

Delays will be inevitable unless both the company exporting goods and the hauliers are AEO authorised and/or can prove they have a secure supply chain.

Customs resources at each point will be restricted which will also mean added delays.

Alongside this, hauliers may now need to be able to produce Customs Documentation such as Transit Documents, access the NCTS EU Computer system for managing transit and provide Customs Guarantees for the Transit operation.

Finally, customers will start requesting information regarding their hauliers’ Brexit plans as this will be a critical component of a company’s AEO application.

This raises the following questions:

  • How much time will Brexit add to the usual transit time?
  • What is the solution to minimise it?
  • Do we need to look for AEO?

These are the questions Irish hauliers and freight forwarders have to plan for and they need to plan sooner rather than later to be able to keep their usual business going, meet customer delivery deadlines and maintain profits.

For further information on Brexit and all customs queries please contact BDO.

For more information about our partnership with BDO Ireland click here.

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What is Customs?

Many companies are now having to try to understand Customs and Trade legislation for the first time with the potential requirement to lodge Customs Declarations on purchases and sales with the UK.

The purpose of this article is to look at the key essentials to consider.

The first thing to remember is that Customs Duties and Customs Declarations are required each time you cross an International Border. Therefore on sales to the UK for example, you will need to lodge an export declaration from Ireland and an import declaration into the UK.

The same requirements currently exist for all International Trade between Ireland and any non-EU country.

In preparing your customs procedures you will need to look at your requirements from both a customs compliance perspective and a cost savings perspective.

You will also need to look at your type of imports e.g. whether it is capital equipment, raw material/parts or excisable goods. There can be different rules and cost-saving opportunities for each type of transaction and it is best to review this well in advance of importing as Customs Authorisations can take some time to secure.

Customs Compliance

  • EORI

Firstly, in order to be able to import into Ireland from outside the EU, or export out of Ireland, you will need a customs registration known as an EORI number.

The EORI is a unique EU Customs Registration which enables you to interact with Customs in each Member State.

  • Import Procedures
    There are generally two options for importing into Ireland from a customs administration point of view.

These are as follows:

  1. Authorise your freight/clearance agents to pay the import duty, import VAT on your behalf and invoice this back to you.
  2. Pay the duty directly to Customs – ideally with a deferred payment account authorisation to enable one monthly payment rather than individual payments each time your goods cross the border.

A deferred payment account will however require provision of a Guarantee and we would recommend allowing three months to obtain this authorisation and guarantee.

Duty Costs

Along with establishing a method for importing and exporting you will also need to look at the duty costs associated with importing goods.

One of the most important aspects of this is being able to determine the duty rate applicable to your goods. This is based on what is known as the tariff code.

The tariff code for imports is a 10-digit number which equates to a description of the item. Each tariff code has a separate duty rate. Therefore it is critical to classify your products under the right tariff code in order to ensure the correct duty is paid. If you pay too much you will be disadvantaged financially. If you pay too little you are likely to have to pay an additional amount later, when you have a Customs audit. In addition the tariff code must be correct as this is critical security information for Customs.

Determining tariff classification will often be one of the biggest projects a company has to take on.

Along with the duty rate you will also need to determine the origin of goods and whether the country you are importing from has a preferential trade agreement with the EU. This will be critical in the context of any new UK-EU Free Trade Agreement. It is currently a huge benefit for companies trading with Canada or South Korea, for example, where accurate determination of origin can yield significant duty reductions.

Finally you will need to look at ensuring the correct value is given to Customs for the goods.

These aspects of Customs should all be drafted into a Procedure Manual to ensure compliance and to support ongoing management of Customs – a critical issue in our post-Brexit world.

If you are likely to be impacted by additional costs you will then need to review opportunities for duty and costs savings.

This will be the focus of our next article.

For further information on Brexit and all customs queries please contact BDO.

For more information about our partnership with BDO Ireland click here.

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Brexit Funding Support

As a follow on to our piece on this last year we find companies often ask what supports are out there to prepare for Brexit.

There are a number of loans, grants and training programmes which are on offer and it’s a good idea to take advantage of these to start preparing for Brexit.

These can be summarised as follows:


Intertrade Ireland

Intertrade Ireland offers a voucher of up to €2,000 (or £2,000 if applying from Northern Ireland) to help SMEs seeking support and advice in relation to Brexit.

It is important to be mindful of the time frames within which you are required to choose a Service Provider and submit a terms of reference within a month of the voucher being issued.

This money can be used to complete an initial Brexit impact assessment which will provide a guideline for your business for the next year.


Enterprise Ireland - Be Prepared Grant

Enterprise Ireland launched its Brexit SME Scorecard in which SMEs can register to assess their readiness for Brexit.

The Be Prepared Grant offers up to €5,000 to assist in the cost of developing a strategic response to Brexit.

This grant is available to Enterprise Ireland client companies who are directly or indirectly exposed to the UK market.

It is important to bear in mind that you do have to also match the €5,000 being spent but this enables a comprehensive Brexit analysis to be completed.

Enterprise Ireland also offer training and one-to-one workshops which companies are well advised to take advantage of.


Enterprise Ireland - Agile Innovation Fund

Enterprise Ireland launched its Fast Track Agile Innovation Fund to give companies rapid access to innovation funding.

The fund is targeted at companies looking to respond quickly to market opportunities and challenges posed by Brexit, helping companies develop new products, processes and services for new market opportunities and enabling exporters to respond quickly and maximise export performance.

It allows companies access grants of up to €150,000 in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.


Bord Bia

Bord Bia run three month workshops for companies to assist them with developing their knowledge of customs and trade in order to expand their business outside of the European Union.

If you are a Bord Bia client we would strongly advise contacting their Brexit team to take advantage of this.


Brexit Loan Scheme

Preparation, innovation and adaptation are key focuses for Irish businesses facing the opportunities and challenges posed by Brexit. Such actions however require working capital.

This has been acknowledged by the Irish Government who announced in October 2017 the implementation of a Brexit Loan Scheme to support Irish businesses and assist them in the preparation of their action plans.

Through this programme the government set aside up to €300 million which is available at competitive rates to SMEs (40% of which are planned to be specifically used to benefit the agri-food sector – acknowledging it as a particularly exposed sector). The scheme excludes farmers and fishermen for whom alternative schemes should be further discussed.



While different conditions will apply, these offerings will benefit:

  • Traders and manufacturers
  • Companies facing cross border issues
  • SME's

BDO’s key message is to take action now and plan for Brexit with the resources that are available to you.

For further information on Brexit and all customs queries please contact BDO.

For more information about our partnership with BDO Ireland click here.

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The world’s largest short sea roll-on roll-off vessel launched from Dublin Port

Following from our article in the last edition “Soft Brexit or Hard Cheese” we have recently seen the markets reacting with additional capacity on Dublin to The Netherlands/Belgium route.  Cobelfret/CLDN recently launched a vessel almost twice the size of any other ferry operating in Dublin Port. Officially named MV Celine it has already acquired the nickname of Brexit Buster.

It is positive to see the market supply more capacity as Brexit looms and we expect others to follow suit providing new direct lanes into Europe.

We will keep you posted.

For more information about this partnership click here.

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Rhenus Air & Ocean joins Pharma Gateway Amsterdam initiative

Last December Rhenus Air & Ocean signed the partnership covenant with Pharma Gateway Amsterdam (PGA). Schiphol Group, Air Cargo Netherlands and 18 logistics companies have initiated Pharma Gateway Amsterdam with the aim to establish Schiphol as the best European pharma hub.

The purpose is to retain, enhance and attract pharma business to Schiphol by offering pharma shippers an IATA CEIV Pharma certified (and/or equally qualified programs focused on airfreight) closed supply chain.

Marketing & Communication, Quality & Transparency and Knowledge & Innovation will be the core activities of the PGA community.

PGA’s ambition is substantiated by five USPs: high quality, full transparency, most innovative, most efficient and best connected.

Rhenus Air & Ocean will meet on a regular basis to discuss a.o. shipper requirements but also to actively participate in agreed improvements of the pharma supply chain.

Rhenus’ pharm hub in The Netherlands has three different temperature controlled cells, its own customized ULD handling services for inbound and outbound with direct access to airside, and Customs control & security screening in our own warehouse.

Find out information about Pharma Gateway Amsterdam:  or contact Lynda Barry, Rhenus Logistics, Dublin, Tel 01 429 2300 / [email protected]

For more information about this partnership click here.

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Soft Brexit or hard cheese?


Argi-food exporters face uncertainty as Brexit moves closer

With Brexit just one year away, the future relationship between the UK and the Customs Union remains largely unresolved. Will customs harmony be maintained or will Irish exporters to the UK and Europe face tariffs and a host of customs formalities? Will there be delays in transiting the UK to reach the wider European markets?

A significant portion of Irish Exports to Europe are shipped on trucks that transit via the UK on the traditional land-bridge route. Post Brexit, it remains unclear how UK Customs authorities will manage this traffic. There is an alternative.

If you are a small or large exporter to Europe, Rhenus Logistics can arrange movement from all main ports in Ireland direct to European ports bypassing the UK. Regular departures from Dublin, Rosslare, Waterford and Cork connect with European Ports in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. We may have to plan for slightly longer transit times but maintaining supply chain certainty remains critically important. Begin your contingency planning now!

For further information please contact your local Rhenus Logistics office.

Lynda Barry / Tel +353 (0)1 429 2300 / [email protected]

About Rhenus: Turnover at the Rhenus Group tops € 4.8 billion, making it one of the leading logistics service companies with global operations. Rhenus has business locations at more than 580 locations worldwide and employs 28,000 people. The Rhenus business areas - Contract Logistics, Freight Logistics, Port Logistics and Public Transport - manage complex supply chains and provide a wealth of innovative value-added services.

For more information about this partnership click here.

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Learnings from the Ukraine FTA

It can be helpful to consider the various trade agreements currently in place with the EU when predicting which model is likeliest to be chosen when it comes to the EU-UK breakup. In this article we take a look at this in the context of the controls on the movement of goods; not the duty impact.

As the UK have decided to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market, as stated by President of the European Council Donald Tusk, a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) becomes the only option.

When considering the type of FTA which might apply, it is useful to refer to the slide presented by Michel Barnier to the European Council on 15 December 2017.

Picture A: Michel Barnier, European Commissioner lead negotiator, UK Red Lines chart.

Based on the UK Red Lines and the analysis above it appears that the Canada Trade Agreement (or future Japan Trade Agreement) represent the most likely models to adopt.

In this context it is now worth taking a closer look at the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that was signed between the EU and the Republic of Ukraine, as the Republic of Ukraine is a country that shares a physical border with the EU.

This agreement formally entered into force on 1 September 2017. One important difference to note is that the Ukraine has closer links to the EU Customs Union and Single Market than the UK as the Ukraine accepts the jurisdiction of the ECJ and regulatory compliance with the EU.

The DCFTA offers the Ukraine a framework to modernise its trade relations and economic development by the opening of its markets via progressive removal of customs tariffs and quotas, and by an extensive harmonisation of laws, norms and regulations in various trade-related sectors, creating the conditions for aligning key sectors of the Ukrainian economy to EU standards.

Similar to the Canada Trade Agreement, the aim of the Ukraine Trade Agreement is to eliminate respectively 99.1% and 98.1% of duties in trade value.

Thus, duty-free tariff rate quotas have been granted to the Ukraine for cereals, pork, beef, poultry and a handful of additional products, while for others the progressive elimination by the EU of the custom duties will occur over a longer transition period (generally 10 years).

Despite all these tariff benefits however, the most significant benefit for seamless movement of goods appears to be missing. There is still a hard border between the EU and Ukraine and all the border crossing formalities continue to have to be fulfilled (such as - import and export documentation, permits and border physical checks).

Picture B: Poland and Ukraine border within Europe.

The picture above displays the border between Poland and Ukraine. This border is 529km long and has six transit border crossings available for transit movement.

When we take a closer look at the situation at this border, we see clearly that the waiting time depends on factors such as:

  • Which border crossing is taken
  • At what time the border crossing is taken
  • Direction of movement at the border (i.e. exit from the EU or entrance into the EU)

This data is detailed below:

Picture C:  Estimated waiting times to cross the border between Poland and Ukraine.

The waiting time to cross the border between Poland and Ukraine is estimated between 0 hours or up to 9 hours. It is important to note that this time excludes actual goods inspection time which may take a few extra hours.

Interestingly, times to clear customs in Poland to enter the EU are significantly lower than the time taken to exit Poland. Our next article will analyse this further.

If we compare the length of the border between Ukraine and Poland vs Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, both are very similar lengths of 529km and 499km respectively.

This begs the question:

How many border crossings will be needed in Ireland to avoid congestion?

Will an electronic border solve the problem?

Will the EU allow for an electronic border when the UK becomes a 3rd country while leaving the Single Market and Customs Union and moving more towards the Canada/Japan Model?

For further information or to arrange a meeting please contact Carol Lynch on [email protected].

For more information about this partnership click here.

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Sugar Tax 2018 – The Facts

For companies importing sugar sweetened drinks to Ireland or exporting them to the UK it is important to take account of the Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax (SSDT) which will be introduced, subject to formal approval by the European Commission, on the 1 April 2018 in Ireland.

Simultaneously in the UK, a similar tax, the Soft Drinks Industry levy, will be implemented on 6 April 2018.

The following is high level summary of the taxes and their implications in both Ireland and the United Kingdom.


The tax shall be charged at the time the sugar sweetened drink is first supplied in the State by a supplier and that supplier shall be accountable for and liable to pay the tax charged.

‘First supply’ means a product supplied in the State that had not previously been supplied in the State.

For SSDT purposes, supply in the State means a supply from one supplier established in the State to another supplier established in the State, or from a supplier established in the State to a consumer in the State. The supply must not be made to a related company.

For the tax to apply on a drink, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • The drink must be non-alcoholic (in the UK the drink must have a maximum of 1.2% alcohol by volume)
  • The drink must have a sugar content of more than 5g per 100 millilitres
  • The drink must be a water-based and juice-based drink
  • The drink must be in a concentrated form or in ready-to-drink form

Dairy products are outside the scope of the tax as well as drinks based on soya, cereals, nuts or seeds.

Infant formula, follow-on formula, baby food, formulated food intended as a total diet replacement and dietary food used for special medical purposes are all excluded.

Pure fruit juice that does not contain added sugar are not subject to the tax due to nutritional value, vitamins and the fibre they provide.

Some exceptions will apply to small producers.


Returns and Payments

A supplier shall within one month after the end of a two months accounting period, in respect of the sugar sweetened drinks supplied in that accounting period, furnish to an officer a return in such form as the Commissioners may require showing:

  1. The quantity of ready to consume sugar sweetened drinks supplied by the supplier in that period, and
  2. The quantity of ready to consume beverages that would result from the preparation of the quantity of concentrated sugar sweetened drinks supplied by the supplier in that period.

The supplier shall pay the amount of tax due in respect of the accounting period concerned.

In the UK, when a drink becomes liable for the levy, the Supplier needs to report it to HMRC in a quarterly return and pay the levy due.

These will be fixed quarterly returns ending June, September, December and March.


Before making a supply of sugar sweetened drinks, suppliers will need to register with Revenue as a Sugar Sweetened Drinks Supplier (SSDS).

In the UK, registration is needed within 30 days of the end of the month in which a supplier first needs to report drinks subject to the tax. Registration is done via HMRC on

For further information on the sugar tax or to arrange a meeting please contact Carol Lynch on [email protected].

For more information about this partnership click here.

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Brexit Status – What Now?

We look at the key Brexit updates from this year so far and clarify in practical terms what this means for exporters.

A lot has happened in March 2018 in relation to Brexit and its impact for Irish exporters.

In summary:

  • In Theresa May’s Mansion House speech on 2 March, Mrs May confirmed, again, that the UK will leave the Customs Union and will leave the EU Single Market.
  • On 5 March Michel Barnier welcomed this as giving clarity to the way forward.
  • On 7 March President Donald Tusk stated, in the draft guidelines on the framework of the future relationship with the UK, that the result of the UK leaving the Customs Union and Single Market meant that “the only remaining possible model is a free trade agreement. I hope that it will be ambitious and advanced – and we will do our best, as we did with other partners, such as Canada recently – but anyway it will only be a trade agreement.
  • He went on to say that Our agreement will not make trade between the UK and the EU frictionless or smoother. It will make it more complicated and costly than today, for all of us. This is the essence of Brexit”
  • Finally, in Brussels on 19 March an agreement was reached for a transition period to apply which will cover the period before the new Trade Agreement.

What does the Transition Period Mean?

The UK will formally leave the EU on 29 March 2019. However, it is unlikely that a Trade Agreement will be concluded by this point. This would mean that trade between the EU and the UK would take place under WTO rules – with similar duties, tariffs and restrictions to those that currently apply to trade between the EU and USA for example.

The Transition agreement however provides for the UK to effectively remain within the Customs Union until 31 December 2020 and therefore means there will be no impact on trade during this period. Nor will duties or controls be introduced.

Is 31 December 2020 therefore now the new date for Brexit?

Yes and no.

  • Yes, in so far as if the talks between the UK and EU on the future trading relationship are successful, and all outstanding issues such as the NI Border are resolved, then yes Brexit will occur in full on 1 January 2021.
  • No in so far as, under the EU Rules “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. So March 2019 could still occur.

Where does this leave companies?

The problem for companies at this point is whether to continue to prepare for March 2019 or hold off on the basis that political discussions will be successful and no change will be required until January 2021.

This involves an element of gambling and therefore the approach being taken by most companies is to implement the minimum amount of planning to ensure that this can be utilised should things take a turn for the worse later in the year.

As the work required is the same, regardless of the time frame, this ‘no regrets policy’ is seen as the best option.

What are companies preparing for?

Based on the events during March as laid out in the first paragraph a reasonable working assumption is that post-January 2021 companies will be trading with the UK under a Free Trade Agreement similar to the agreement that currently exists with Canada.

This will allow for reduced / zero customs duties as long as goods qualify as originating and companies have origin certification to prove it.

Import and Export Declarations will be required as normal.

What’s next?

The next crunch meeting will be the June Council meeting at which there needs to be substantive movement on

  • The Border
  • The unagreed “White” and “Yellow” items of the Withdrawal Agreement
  • The future trading relationship between the two blocs

At this point the advice is, as before, to review your supply chain and identify the costs and potential duty impacts for exports to and imports from the UK.

Along with Customs the Import VAT requirements, Direct Tax and HR costs also need to be budgeted for.

We recommend adapting the following co-ordinated approach and taking advantage of the grants and funds that are available to support this.

The bloc wants to have agreed on solutions to the Irish border problem, have ironed out remaining differences in the Brexit withdrawal treaty text, and nailed down what sort of relationship the two sides are going to have after 2020. 


For further information or to arrange a meeting please contact Carol Lynch on [email protected]

For more information about this partnership click here.

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Swiss Customs Goes Paperless


The eVV Electronic files assessment decisions for Imports

IS NOW mandatory, from 1st March 2018


The eVV (Electronic files assessment decisions) is the digital Swiss customs clearance system. Following the introduction of assessment decisions in electronic format in 2008, Swiss Customs began issuing export assessment decisions exclusively in electronic form. The same will now be the case for import assessment decisions.

From 1st March 2018, Swiss Customs issue its import assessment decisions for customs and VAT exclusively in electronic format for DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) shipments. This means the Swiss importers have to organise themselves in order to be able to collect, store and archive their eVV’s Imports in time.

For further information please contact the Federal Customs Administration of Switzerland

Or your local Rhenus Logistics office - Lynda Barry / Tel +353 (0)1 429 2300 / [email protected]


About Rhenus: Turnover at the Rhenus Group tops € 4.8 billion, making it one of the leading logistics service companies with global operations. Rhenus has business locations at more than 580 locations worldwide and employs 28,000 people. The Rhenus business areas - Contract Logistics, Freight Logistics, Port Logistics and Public Transport - manage complex supply chains and provide a wealth of innovative value-added services.

For more information about this partnership click here.

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