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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 (EU) 2020/262, which repeals and replaces Council Directive 2008/118/EC as of 13 February 2023. Directive 2020/262 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.

The new Directive digitalises the supervision of the movement of goods between Member States where excise duty has already been charged in Member State of Dispatch (duty paid). As this was already the case for goods under duty suspension, these movements are performed by the exchange of electronic messages through the computerised system being the Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) since February 13, 2023. It aims 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. 

The remaining provisions that came into effect, as of February 13 2024, concern the alignment between excise and customs procedures  This alignment between EMCS and the Automated Export System (AES) automates excise and customs processes and the exchange of information between Member States and economic operators. It further facilitates the control of excise movements, the fight against fraud, and provides more certainty to exporters.

The horizontal rules laid down in the Directive 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
  • The types of authorised excise operators

Production and storage of excise goods

Tax warehouses are facilities authorised to produce, receive, store and dispatch excise goods in duty suspension.

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.. A number of rules exist to determine if the products bought are deemed for own use, 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 2020/262 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 consignees: If the vendor does not comply with the requirements under Article 44(4)(a) of Directive 2020/262 you may become the person liable under Article 44(3). If you agree to arrange the transport separately you may become liable for the excise duty in “your” Member State.
    • For consignors: Member States may allow the appointment of a tax representative in the Member State of destination, as per Article 44(3) of Directive 2020/262. Check the national excise procedures before dispatching goods to private persons

Movement of Excise Goods between Member States

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 (temporary) registered consignee
  • A place  of export from the EU (see Article 16(1)(a)(iii) and (v) of Directive 2020/262)
  • An exempt consignee - (see Article 16(1)(a)(iv) of Directive 2020/262)

As of 13 February 2023 the movement of excise goods on which the duty has been previously paid (released for consumption) in the Member State of dispatch – under duty paid – must take place from a certified consignor to a certified consignee.

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
  • Electronic Simplified Administrative Document (eSAD) for goods under duty paid (as of 13 February 2023)

The Directive lays down which operators are required to provide a guarantee for the movement of excise goods.

The Excise Movements and Control System (EMCS) is the highly developed computerised system for tracing the commercial movement of excise goods travelling within the EU under duty suspension and as of 13 February 2023 under duty paid.

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