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Trade-friendly customs legislation in Flanders

Overall, Flanders has a flexible system of law and tax incentives for importation that is trade-friendly.

The system at a glance

  • A business-oriented approach of customs authorities.
  • The introduction of new trade facilities including extended gateways, centralized clearance light, entry into the records, self-assessment, etc.
  • Efforts to grant additional benefits to AEO-accredited companies focusing on system-based controls vs. transaction-based controls.
  • New IT applications for automation of customs procedures.
  • New risk assessment-based control tools.
  • Various VAT incentives for companies importing and distributing via Belgium and Flanders as a region.

Transparent procedures for importation in Flanders

As part of the EU, Belgium – and Flanders as a region – is part of a customs union between its member states that allows intra-community trade with a common customs duty, which are mainly imposed on imports of goods.

There are 6 customs procedures used when importing goods into Flanders:

  1. Release for free circulation: importation.
  2. Transit: the movement of EU goods passing a third country without changing the customs status.
  3. Temporary admission: exemption of import duties and taxes if goods are temporarily imported and then exported without changes.
  4. Customs warehousing: allows the storage of non-EU goods to postpone or avoid duties and VAT until the final destination is known.
  5. Inward processing: allows non-EU goods to be processed if they will be re-exported outside the EU.
  6. Processing under customs control: allows non-EU goods with high duty rates to be processed with fees suspended until they are released at a more favorable rate.

Interesting tax exemptions for intra-community supply and exportation from Flanders

If goods are destined for an EU member state other than Belgium, the importation can be exempt from import-VAT, and sometimes from import and excise duties.

When goods are exported from Flanders, the sale of the goods may be exempt from VAT and excise duties. There are two export procedures: exportation and outward processing relief.

Setting up sales operations in Flanders through 3rd parties

There are three main options for setting up sales operations through third parties in Flanders: the agency agreement, the distribution agreement and the franchise agreement

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