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Taxation and Customs Union

EU Customs Union – unique in the world


Web Banner with a Female Custom Officer

A common tariff of customs duties is being used on imports from outside the EU and there are no customs duties levied at the borders between EU countries. Duty on goods from outside the EU is generally paid when they first enter the EU. From then on, there are no more customs duties to pay and no more customs checks will apply - all goods circulate freely within the EU Customs Union.

The EU Customs Union is essential for the proper functioning of the single market. In practice, National customs services in all EU countries work together as one to manage the day-to-day operations of the Customs Union. The European Commission proposes the EU customs legislation and monitors its implementation.

The EU is one of the largest traders in the world.

The EU is one of the largest trading bloc in the world, alongside the United States and China.

In 2020, the value of the EU trade with other countries amounted to EUR 3.7 trillion (trillion = 1 x 1012).

Half of EU external trade was mainly with four main partners: China, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Source: Eurostat

To manage this volume of international trade in 2020, more than 2,000 EU customs offices, working 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, handled the import, export or transit of over 1 069 million articles. The amount of customs duties collected in 2020 reached € 24.8 billion.

In 2020, there were 2037 customs offices and 91818 customs staff. 693.2 millions items were declared for import and 361.2 million items were declared for export. That means per second 33 items are declared.

Source: DG Taxation and Customs Union and Eurostat

Various means of carrying freight are used in the EU trade

The most frequently used form of transport in the EU trade is maritime transport, followed by air and road transport.

Source: Eurostat