Last checked: 13/05/2020

Selling products in the EU

As a business trading in Europe, you can benefit from the EU Single Market and also from certain trade arrangements with other European countries. This means most goods can move freely within this territory without any extra costs or quantitative restrictions. This is known as free movement of goods. However, certain goods such as excise goods and chemicals are subject to additional rules. You also have different VAT obligations depending on what you sell, to whom and where the goods are transported to.

BREXIT: the United Kingdom is no longer a member country of the European Union. However, the UK and EU are in a transition period until at least 31 December 2020. During that period, all EU laws continue to apply in the UK. This includes product rules and regulations, customs formalities and reporting obligations.

Customs formalities must be completed when goods are imported or exported between the EU and any non-EU country (including those benefiting from the free movement of goods, in this case: the European Economic Area, Switzerland, Turkey, Andorra and San Marino).

EU product rules and regulations

Prior to bringing goods onto the EU market, you must ensure that your products meet the EU requirements to protect human and animal health, the environment and consumers rights. This could be rules and specifications that are harmonised within the EU or those managed by each EU country but recognised by the EU; known as mutual recognition. You can read more about this on the product rules and specifications topic.

There is no difference between customers anywhere in the EU

While you are free to define your general terms and conditions of sale, including limitations on delivery, all your customers based in the EU must have the same access to goods as your local customers.

If you offer a special price, promotion or sales conditions, these should be accessible to all your customers irrespective of which EU country they are located in, their nationality, place of residence or business location.

The rules apply to online and offline transactions as long as the sales are to the end user (an individual or business that doesn't have the intention to re-sell, transform, process, rent or subcontract their purchases).

Access to online interfaces

Your customers must be able to access any version of your website they want, for example, if they type in the Spanish URL of your website and they are connecting from Italy they shouldn't automatically be re-directed to the Italian version. They must give you their consent before you redirect them and they have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.

Sales of products without delivery

If you offer a collection service you must ensure that customers based in EU countries where you don't offer a delivery service have the right to order products from your website, and arrange their own delivery or pick up.

Reporting goods movements

If you export and/or import within the EU of more than a certain value, you will have to provide a statistical report on your intra-EU trade flows.

The thresholds above which you must report are set every year by each of the EU countries (usually in the last quarter) and they apply for the whole of the following calendar year. Separate thresholds exist (that might differ) for exports (dispatches) and imports (arrivals).

Exemption thresholds

INTRASTAT: Exemption threshold (per country) 2020 - Arrival - Euro 2020 - Arrival - National Currency 2020 - Dispatch - Euro 2020 - Dispatch - National Currency
AT 750 000 750 000 750 000 750 000
BE 1 500 000 1 500 000 1 000 000 1 000 000
BG 240 307 470 000 148 275 290 000
CY 180 000 180 000 55 000 55 000
CZ 480 000 12 000 000 480 000 12 000 000
DE 800 000 800 000 500 000 500 000
DK 923 000 6 900 000 696 000 5 200 000
EE 230 000 230 000 130 000 130 000
GR 150 000 150 000 90 000 90 000
ES 400 000 400 000 400 000 400 000
FI 600 000 600 000 600 000 600 000
FR 460 000 460 000 460 000 460 000
HR 297 000 2 200 000 162 000 1 200 000
HU 507 000 170 000 000 299 000 100 000 000
IE 500 000 500 000 635 000 635 000
IT 800 000 800 000 400 000 400 000
LT 250 000 250 000 150 000 150 000
LU 200 000 200 000 150 000 150 000
LV 220 000 220 000 120 000 120 000
MT 700 700 700 700
NL 800 000 800 000 1 000 000 1 000 000
PL 914 600 4 000 000 460 000 2 000 000
PT 350 000 350 000 250 000 250 000
RO 189 970 900 000 189 970 900 000
SE 846 000 9 000 000 423 000 4 500 000
SI 140 000 140 000 220 000 220 000
SK 200 000 200 000 400 000 400 000
UK 1 693 200 1 500 000 282 200 250 000

Where does your reporting obligation start?

'Your' EU country sets a threshold which is applicable for a given calendar year.

Example: 'your' EU country sets the import threshold for 2019 to EUR 100 000. If, in 2018 you imported more than EUR 100 000, you must report from January 2019 onwards.

Example: 'your' EU country has set the import threshold for 2018 to EUR 100 000. From January to June 2018 your accumulated imports amounted to EUR 90 000. In July, you import goods of another EUR 15 000. As you have exceeded the threshold in July 2018 you must  report from this month onwards. Your first Intrastat declaration would then relate to the July imports of EUR 15 000.

You may have to report good movements to or from EU countries where your company is not based.

Sample story

Reporting goods movements

During the course of a calendar year an Austrian clothing company shipped EUR 400 000 worth of goods from the US to Austria via Leixões port, Portugal.

The value of goods forwarded from Portugal to Austria was above the reporting threshold for dispatches set in Portugal (EUR 250 000), therefore the Austrian company had to file a report with the Portuguese authorities. There was no need to report the goods that arrived in Austria for that calendar year, because the Austrian reporting threshold for arrivals is EUR 750 000, which is above the value of goods shipped.

So even though the company is established in Austria, in this case the reporting was only done in Portugal.

Who has to report?

Businesses and private individuals which are registered for VAT and who dispatch or receive goods — if the dispatches or arrivals exceed the respective yearly threshold.

You may ask a specialised company to represent you and to provide the report on your behalf

When do you have to report?

Which trade flows must be reported?

Physical movements of goods from the member state of dispatch to the member state of arrival (and vice versa).

If you have authorisation for the customs procedure of inward processing - and the unprocessed/processed goods move between EU countries - you are obliged to report these movements.

Note: If you only offer cross-border services that don't include any cross-border movement of goods, there is no need to report under the Intrastat system.

What data to report?

Your monthly Intrastat reports should include the following:

(If the value relates to processing activities, you would need to obtain the value of the processed goods, and then work out the value of the unprocessed goods plus any value added during the processing, e.g. for materials and wages).

Example: you have a contract to coat metal tubes which are sent to you from another Member State. The value to report for your imports would be the value of the unprocessed tubes; for your exports you would need to report the value of the processed, coated tubes (which would then consist of the value of the unprocessed tubes plus any additional costs: service charges and materials).

You may also be required to provide additional information such as delivery terms as specified in your contractual arrangement (e.g. EXW, CIF, FOB) or the mode of transport (e.g. sea/road/rail transport).

National authorities offer tools to help businesses meet their Intrastat reporting obligations. See how different countries apply the Intrastat system on the websites below.

Choose country:

  • Austriaaten
  • Belgiumbeen
  • Bulgariabgen
  • Croatiacren
  • Cypruscyen
  • Czechiaczen
  • Denmarkdken
  • Estoniaeeen
  • Finlandfien
  • Francefren
  • Germanydeen
  • Greecegren
  • Hungaryhuen
  • Irelandieen
  • Italyitit
  • Latvialven
  • Lithuanialten
  • Luxembourgluen
  • Maltamten
  • Netherlandsnlen
  • Polandplen
  • Portugalpten
  • Romaniaroen
  • Slovakiasken
  • Sloveniasien
  • Spainesen
  • Swedenseen
  • United Kingdomuken

Related topics

EU legislation

Need support from assistance services?

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European Small Claims Procedure

Settle disputes with suppliers or clients from another EU country, for claims up to EUR 5 000.

Product Contact Point

Your Product Contact Point can inform you on national product legislation and help you access another national market in the EU.

Local business support

Do you have questions on operating a business cross-border, for example exporting or expanding to another EU country? If so, the Enterprise Europe Network can give you free advice.

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