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Brussels, 16 October 2006

Excise duties: Commission provides free on-line access to excise registration numbers (SEED-on-Europa)

As from today, the European Commission will provide to the business free on-line access to excise registration numbers which are attributed to operators which are allowed to produce, store, transport and/or receive excise products under suspension of duties. This on-line access to 'SEED-on-Europa' allows verification of the validity of economic operators’ excise numbers and the categories of goods for which the operator is authorised. This will increase legal certainty and transparency for traders wishing to send excise goods under suspension of duties. The launch of 'SEED-on-Europa' marks the first step in the implementation of a paperless environment for excise movement procedures in support of an effective e-Excise policy.

"I am very happy that the Commission and the Member States actively participate in the efforts for better e-governance" said Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács. "Offering free on-line tax related information to the business will facilitate legitimate trade and support effort to better tackle tax fraud."

What is SEED-on- Europa (System for the Exchange of Excise Data)?

Excise duties are indirect taxes on the consumption or the use of certain products. In contrast to Value Added Tax (VAT), they are primarily expressed as a monetary amount per quantity of the product. EU legislation on excise duties applies on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and energy products (such as petrol and gasoline).

Commercial movements of excise products between Member States usually take place under suspension of excise duties and excise duty is finally paid to the Member State where the goods are marketed. These transports must be accompanied by a paper document (called the AAD or Administrative Accompanying Document). When the goods are at destination, the recipient must acknowledge receipt of the goods to the sender by sending back a copy of the paper document.

Both the sender and the recipient of the products must be registered in the SEED database in their Member State to respectively send and receive products under suspension of excise duties.

SEED-on-Europa, available in all EU languages, will ensure that businesses will be able to check on-line the validity of the registration number of their partners in other Member States and the product categories for which it is valid, instead of having to ask national administrations to check the validity of a number.

By providing free online access to business-related information, the Commission not only supports the proper functioning of the internal market, but also assumes its part of the responsibility regarding the implementation of eGovernment principles and contributes to the achievement of the Lisbon strategy’s headline goals.

SEED, a cornerstone in the full computerisation of excise procedures

The Commission and the Member States have planned to fully computerise the excise movement procedures under suspension of duty as from 2009 in order to simplify and reduce the time needed for the discharge of excise liability. This takes place in the framework of the new Excise Movement Control System (EMCS), devised in consultation with business. The EMCS will introduce electronic processing for validating, monitoring and discharging movements of excise products under suspension of excise duties within the EU.

A fully reliable SEED database is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of EMCS, which includes an automatic control of the validity of the SEED registration numbers of the businesses involved in a movement under duty suspension before it can start. It will transform the way traders and tax administrations will work in the future. While offering trade facilitation, it will also provide excise authorities an essential tool to effectively address fraud.
EMCS is an ambitious project in terms of complexity, number of parties involved and timing: it is expected that once fully operational around 100,000 economic operators will be using the system. The Commission recognises that the success of this project requires an extensive effort of communication. It therefore provides up-to-date information on the state of this project on this website:

A newsletter published twice a year is also available on this website.


The free on-line access to 'SEED-on Europa' is part of a more general tax and customs related service provided by the Commission to the business and the public.

Accounting, on average, for more than 6 million consultations per month, tax and customs online services prove every day highly successful in meeting economic operators' and member states’ operational needs.
What customs duties and other measures apply if I want to import furniture from Argentina? How to find out the balances of EU tariff quotas? Is the VAT identification of my supplier valid? May I send excise goods under suspension of duties to this customer? In case you are confronted with this type of question the reply is only one click away:

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