Scientific instruments and apparatus
Establishments mainly engaged in education or scientific research can apply for authorisation to import scientific instruments and apparatus without having to pay customs duty. It does not matter whether it is a public or private establishment. A private establishment, however, must be approved by us.
Conditions for duty relief
You must apply for an authorisation for duty-free import for each item that is imported. This applies regardless of whether the establishment is public or private.
It is important that you apply well in advance of the importation because the authorisation must be present when the item is declared for import.
The scientific instruments and apparatus that may be eligible for duty relief should mainly or exclusively be suited to scientific activities. They also have to be imported for non-profit-making scientific research or for educational purposes.
You can also claim relief for spare parts, components and accessories for these items, and for tools used for the maintenance, checking, calibration or repair of them. You can claim such duty relief on the condition that the items are either imported at the same time as the instruments or apparatus they are intended for or, if they are imported later, that they can be identified as intended for instruments or apparatus previously imported free of duty.
Approval of a private establishment
The head of the establishment applies for approval by sending us a written description of your activities. Include with the application supporting documents, such as statutes, an annual report and an activity report.
You need to be approved before your first importation, so it is important that you apply well in advance. Your approval is valid for 3 years from the day it is issued. Bear in mind that you still have to apply for a duty-relief authorisation for each item imported.
From what charges can I get relief?
You can get relief from customs duty, but not from VAT. If the items are free of duty according to the relevant commodity code in the customs tariff, it is not necessary to apply for duty relief.
Parts and accessories for an item previously imported free of duty
To shorten the processing time when you apply for an authorisation for duty-free importation of spare parts, components and accessories to an item previously admitted free of duty, make sure to refer to the authorisation number of the main item.
What if a product is delivered in more than one consignment?
You can apply for an authorisation for duty-free import of an instrument, for example, that will be delivered in more than one consignment arriving at different times. If you do, you must state in the application how the goods will be delivered. This way the authorisation will indicate that the goods are to arrive in separate consignments, which simplifies the processing of the customs declaration at the time of importation.
What do I have to consider after the importation?
You may not lend, hire out or transfer the goods to another party, neither free of charge nor for a fee, without first notifying us. The same applies if the conditions for duty relief are no longer met or if you wish to use the items for purposes other than those that the authorisation relates to. In most cases, it will then be necessary to pay duty for the items.
However, duty relief continues to apply if the items are lent, hired out or transferred to another establishment that meets the requirements for duty relief, as long as they intend to use the articles for non-commercial scientific purposes.
Can a third party import the item?
The item may be imported by a party other than the establishment holding the duty-relief authorisation. However, this requires that the establishment has bought the item from the importer before customs clearance and that it is delivered directly to the establishment. In the customs declaration, the importer must identify you as the receiver of the item and provide your duty-relief authorisation number.
What law applies?
Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1225/2011
Last updated: 2020-11-23
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