General Customs Law

26 August 2008

Martine Chin-Oldenziel

Introduction

In the Netherlands, legislation relating to customs law has been amended. The General Customs Law (“GCL”) has entered into force on the 1 August 2008. The GCL corresponds to Regulation (EC) 2913/92 (“Community Customs Code, “CCC”) and Regulation (EC) 2454/93, Implementing Provisions CCC, “IPCCC”). The GCL sets out various topics such as representation, goods brought into the customs territory of the European Community (“EC”), prohibitions and restrictions, goods leaving the customs territory of the EC, customs debt, administrative objections and appeal, administrative penalties and criminal provisions. The possibility to request a re-examination of the goods has ceased to have effect. Because of the entry into force of the GCL, various other regulations and laws will no longer apply.

General outline GCL

The GCL provides for inspection competences of Dutch Customs for tax as well as non-tax duties. The GCL has been modernised and has been adapted to the CCC and the IPCCC. In addition to the GLC, the Douaneregeling (in English: Implementation regulation customs) and the Douanebesluit (in English: Customs Decisions) have been amended. The Algemene Douaneregeling (in English: the General Implementation Regulation on Customs) and the Algemeen Douanebesluit (in English: General Customs Decision) have entered into force instead of those regulations. The GCL has amended, inter alia, the following issues.

Inspection competences

The GCL contains additional regulations related to search on body and the use of violence against goods and persons in relation to the inspection and security search.

Re-examination of goods

It will not be possible anymore to request for a re-examination of goods. During the verification of the goods, two samples will be taken, unless the nature of the goods incites to take more samples. However, it will be possible to request an additional examination. In view of the examination (or additional examination) of the goods, Dutch Customs will issue a decision against which it is possible to submit administrative objections. There are costs involved with the additional examination.

Costs

The costs for public duties have been reviewed. For the following public duties, costs will be charged:

  1. costs relating to public duties carried out on the request of the interested party:

    • outside the normal opening hours;
    • on other locations that have been designated as the location to examine goods; or
    • whereby special costs, as provided in Article 11 (2) CCC, have been made. This concerns
    costs that have been made for analyses, expertise or re-sending.

  2. destruction of goods as provided for in Article 56 CCC;

  3. examinations ex officio, as provided for in Article 241 (2) CCC;

  4. in relation to an additional examination, in the case that the differences between the results of the partial examination and the results of the additional examination remain with the margins, as provided in Article 1:35 GCL.

Administrative Penalties

The GCL stipulates that the Dutch Tax inspector can impose administrative penalties that have been increased to EUR 300. In certain cases, an administrative penalty can be imposed with a maximum of 100% of the custom duties that are due. The administrative penalties are imposed by a decision against which it is possible to submit administrative objections. Articles 9:1-9:6 GCL contain the stipulations regarding administrative penalties. In addition, new facts for which an administrative penalty can be imposed have been added:

• Non-fulfilment of obligations relating to a licence issued in pursuance of Dutch customs
regulations;
• Not-following the designated route for goods that have been placed under the customs
procedure transit or which have not been brought to the customs office of exit within
the prescribed period.

For the above-mentioned facts an administrative penalty of EUR 300 can be imposed, or an administrative penalty of a maximum of 100% of the outstanding customs duties, if the involved amount of customs duties exceeds EUR 300 and if there is gross negligence or intention on the side of the interested party.

Non-tariff measures

The GCL, General Implementation Regulation on Customs and the General Customs Decision contain also provisions relating to non-tax duties (i.e. non-tariff measures). The GCL stipulates competences for Dutch customs relating to non-tariff and commercial policy measures with the exception of dual-use goods. Furthermore, the GCL provides for measures relating to agricultural goods. Certain provisions related to the import and export of agricultural goods have been amended. With the entry into force of the GCL, legislations and acts relating to the import and export of strategic goods have ceased to be effective with the exception of certain transitional provisions.