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Taxation and Customs Union

Examples of prohibitions and restrictions

This page lists various examples of prohibitions and restrictions that apply at the EU borders. It is non-exhaustive by nature.

Product compliance and serious risks

The Regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products lays down rules and procedures to ensure a high level of protection of health and safety, in general and in the workplace, and protect consumers, the environment, public security and other public interest in the EU. As regards enforcement at the EU borders, Chapter VII of the Regulation establishes the framework for controls on products imported into the EU. The Regulation applies to all products, whether manufactured or not, including also food and feed, medicines and products of human origin and products of plants and animals relating directly to their future reproduction when the goods qualify also as products.

More information on the Market Surveillance page.

Product safety requirements

The most effective way to avoid unsafe products to be placed on the EU market is to carry out adequate checks before those products are released for free circulation in the EU. This requires the involvement of customs, which is the only service with a complete overview of trade flows across the EU external border and can be achieved through systematic cooperation between Market Surveillance Authorities (MSAs) and customs. Product safety requirements in the EU are covered by a Directive on general product safety and a number of other laws for specific products.

More information on the Consumer Product Safety page.

Sanitary and phytosanitary requirements

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPSmeasures are measures to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants. EU legislation lays down a detailed set of these rules to reduce or eliminate the possible risks of animal, plant and public health threats as well as animal and plant diseases being introduced into the EU by goods coming from non-EU countries. The legislation also foresees rules for co-operation between relevant competent authorities and customs services as well as provisions on targeting controls of goods based on the risks they represent.

More information on the Food Safety page.

Requirements for organic products and medicines

Organic products

All organic products imported from countries outside the EU, excluding the European Economic Area and Switzerland, must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection. Customs ensures that this certificate is verified and endorsed by the competent authority before releasing the goods for free circulation in the EU.

More on the organic products page.


All medicinal products for human use have to be authorised either at Member State level or at EU level before they can be sold on the EU market.

More information on the Health page.

Environmental requirements

Endangered species

The EU Wildlife Trade Regulations implement CITES in the Union and provide a list of endangered species for which the international trade is restricted. The control is based on a system of permits or notifications for imports, exports and re-exports.

More information on the EU and Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora page.

Timber products

Illegal logging is a global problem with significant negative economic, environmental and social impacts. The FLEGT Action Plan aims at fighting illegal logging and the associated trade. The FLEGT Regulation allows for controlling timber released into the EU from countries that have signed FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with the EU. The control is based on a system of licenses certifying the legality of the shipments.

More information on the FLEGT Action Plan page.

Fishery products

The IUU Regulation lays down the EU rules to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Only marine fishery products validated as legal by a catch certificate can be imported to or exported from the EU.

More information on the Illegal fishing (IUU) page.


The Regulation on shipments of waste (EU WSR) lays down requirements for shipments of waste both within the EU and between the EU and third countries, targeting import, export and transit movement. Under the EU WSR, customs authorities are explicitly tasked with controlling transboundary shipments of waste entering, leaving or transiting through the EU. Specific cooperation has also been initiated with customs authorities of China regarding the transboundary shipments of waste between the EU and China.

More information on the Waste Shipment page.


Different pieces of legislation apply to chemical products, with the objective of protecting human health and the environment. Chemical legislation covers substances that can be found in mixtures or articles, having therefore an impact on a wide range of products at the EU border.

More information on the ECHA page, on the Rotterdam Convention – PIC page, the Ozone-depleting substances page and the F-gases page.