Skip to main content
Taxation and Customs Union

Common Excise Duty Provisions

Common provisions which apply to all products subject to excise duties under EU law are set out in Council Directive 2008/118/EC. This directive will be repealed and replaced by Directive (EU) 2020/262 (recast) as of 13 February 2023. The recast directive contains a number of measures to streamline and simplify the processes covering export and import interaction of excise products, business-to-business interaction and exceptional situations. It aims to align the EU excise and customs procedures, so as to improve the freedom of movement for excise goods released for consumption in the single market while ensuring that the correct tax is collected by Member States.

These horizontal rules cover, for example:

  • The categories of products that Member States must apply excise duties to
  • The principles on where excise duty revenue accrues
  • The rules on the production, storage and movement of excise products

Production and storage of excise goods

Products subject to excise duties must be produced in tax warehouses.

They can also be stored, under duty suspension, in these tax warehouses.

Tax warehouses must be authorised by national authorities, in line with specified EU principles. These principles are set out in Recommendation 2000/789/EC. The authorisations may be consulted using the SEED database. For the operation of SEED please consult Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 612/2013.

Once these goods are released for consumption, the excise duties must be paid.

Where should the duties be paid?

  • For commercial transactions, in general, the excise duty is paid in the Member State of consumption. To facilitate this, excise goods can be transported from one Member State to another under duty-suspension until they reach their final destination.
  • If commercial consignments have already been released for consumption (and therefore the duty is paid) in one Member State, and are then transported to another Member State as final destination, a system of reimbursement is in place to avoid double taxation.
  • For private individuals, who buy excise goods for their own use, the tax is paid in the Member State of origin i.e. where they buy the goods. This is the case even if they bring these goods into another Member State. For more information, see travellers.
  • For distance selling (sale to a private person in another Member State), the principle of taxation in the Member State of destination applies. Therefore, products which have already been released for consumption and which are transported to another Member State will be subject to excise duty in the Member State of destination. The person liable to pay the excise duties is the vendor. To avoid double taxation, Directive 2008/118/EC provides for a system of reimbursement of the excise duty paid in the first Member State, subject to conditions to be determined by that Member State.
    • For buyers: Make sure the vendor includes the excise duties of your Member State in the selling price. If the vendor does not comply with the requirements under Article 36(4)(a) of Directive 2008/118/EC you may become the person liable under Article 36(3). Also make sure that the price of transport is included in the price. If you agree to arrange the transport separately you become liable for the excise duty in “your” Member State.
    • For vendors: Bear in mind that most Member States require the appointment of a tax representative in the Member State of destination, as per Article 36(3) of Directive 2008/118/EC. This means that you cannot send excise goods to a private person without having appointed a tax representative in that Member State of destination. Check the national excise procedures before dispatching goods to private persons

Movement of Excise Goods

Alternatively, an authorised warehousekeeper (or a registered consignor) can move excise products – under duty suspension – from a tax warehouse (or the place of importation into the EU) to:

  • Another tax warehouse
  • A registered consignee
  • A point of export from the EU (Article 25 (1) Directive 2008/118/EC)
  • An exempt consignee referred in to in Article 12 (1) - (see Article 17(1)(a)iv)

All excise goods which are transported between Member States must be accompanied by required documents:

  • Electronic Administrative Document (eAD) for goods which are under duty-suspension
  • Simplified Administrative Document (SAAD) for goods on which duty has been paid in the Member State where they were dispatched

The authorised warehousekeeper in the Member State of departure must provide a guarantee for excise goods they dispatch, under duty-suspension, to another Member State, until the excise duty has been secured (Report of Receipt has been received) in the Member State of destination.

The Excise Movements and Control System (EMCS) is the highly developed computerised system for tracing the movement of excise goods travelling within the EU under duty suspension.

Related Links