Covid-19: import duty free for sanitary equipment

In a note to operators dated April 11, 2020, the DGDDI clarified the scope of the import duty exemption and VAT exemption on imports granted for goods needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, following the European Commission's decision of April 3, 2020.

This note cancels and replaces note no. 20000083 dated March 28, 2020.

The following goods are admitted free of duties and taxes:

1° Goods intended to meet the immediate needs of persons contaminated by COVID-19 or at risk of being contaminated or participating in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic;

2° Goods intended to meet the needs of humanitarian aid organizations.

The beneficiaries of these measures are exclusively :

1° Public organizations, including state agencies, public entities and other entities governed by public law ;

2° organizations approved by the DGDDI (organizations of a charitable or philanthropic nature, foundations recognized as being of public utility, etc.).

3° humanitarian aid organizations.

Special case of importing companies :

Legal entities of private law are excluded from the benefit of the franchise.

These persons may not import sanitary equipment free of duties and taxes in order, in particular, to distribute it to their personnel to maintain their activity. Duties and taxes are then due at the time of importation.

On the other hand, if they import sanitary equipment in order to donate it to a public body, an organization approved by the DGDDI or a humanitarian aid organization, the import can be carried out free of duties and taxes.

If they import sanitary equipment as part of a sale to a public body, a body approved by the DGDDI or a humanitarian aid organization, the import may be carried out free of duties and taxes, provided that the sale is outside the scope of French VAT (Article 258-I.-a) of the CGI).

The sale must therefore be completed before the goods are brought into the customs territory of the Union. This sale is then retained for the determination of the customs value at the time of release for free circulation.

In addition, these companies must take preliminary steps with customs.

The exemption from import duties and taxes should be maintained until July 31, 2020.

As the Commission's decision will take effect retroactively to January 30, 2020, operators will be able to request the reimbursement of duties for import operations that could have benefited from the exemption but were subject to taxation between January 30 and that date.