In our news flash of 26 March 2020, we indicated that Dutch Customs can grant companies deferred payment of customs duties because of the business impact of the corona crisis. In practice however companies face difficulties when requesting deferment.
In March 2020, as a response to the financial difficulties companies face due to the corona crisis, Dutch Customs announced that they can grant deferment of customs duties for importing companies upon request. The deferment would apply until the 15th day of the month following the month in which the installed measures to deal with the coronavirus are terminated. Not exactly clear was what these "installed measures" mean.
Later Dutch Customs included the requirement that a guarantee needs to be set in order to get deferment of customs duties. Only in cases where this will lead to serious financial or social difficulties, the requirement to set a guarantee can be waived. In practice, the application for the deferment needs to be applied to the collection office of the tax authorities ('De Ontvanger').
Based upon our conversations with the collecting office, and our experiences in practise, we understand the collection office has an even more strict view of the deferement measures. We understand that serious financial or social difficulties (the condition to waive the guarantee) is only considered to be there in case the requester is not able to pay the customs bills or if people have to be fired due to the business impact of the corona crisis.
Furthermore, any deferment of customs duties without guarantee is only granted for the least amount of time possible (e.g. one month). As soon as possible, the customs duties need to be paid, or a guarantee needs to be set. At the moment customs is not clear if a request for deferment has to be applied for by the importer or by the customs agent who filed the customs declarations on behalf of the importer. The answer to this question is still under construction.
Companies that are hit hard by the corona crisis will find it hard to get deferment of customs duties without setting a guarantee. Payment of customs duties should therefore be a priority payment for any company with cash flow issues, because otherwise goods may not be released by Dutch Customs.
PwC the Netherlands can help you reduce the amount of customs duties, for example by reviewing your import & export data to check whether you are missing any saving opportunities. Further we can also help companies in supporting the request for deferment of customs duties. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in our experiences.
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