Customs’ taxes on online purchases


Last Monday we had a discussion in class about taxes on products that were purchased online. The amount of tax and when you have to pay them or not was unclear. On the website of the Dutch customs we found that on all items bought trough the net (from companies outside of the Netherlands) there actually should be duty paid. This obviously reduces the attractiveness of online purchasing. The amounts vary, based on the product types that are imported. However, customs only check imported packages randomly. So not everyone is paying, while actually it is mandotory to declare. The customs website claims the following:

How much duty do I have to pay?

The amount of duty (Customs duty, turnover tax and excise duty) you have to pay depends on the type of goods you are importing. The duty you are required to pay is usually:

  • turnover tax (19%, 6% or zero percentage of the value of the goods)
  • customs duty (e.g. import duty). This depends on the type of goods being imported. For information call the Customs Information Line or check the Gebruikstarief(only available in Dutch)
  • excise duty (only applicable to certain goods, eg whisky and wine)

Listed below are various types of goods and the import duty applicable to them.

Table: Rates of import (an indication only)

Goods How much duty do I pay?
Music CDs and film DVDs 3.5% customs duty and 19% turnover tax on the value of the goods
Books no customs duty and 6% turnover tax on the value of the goods
Jeans (denim) 12% customs duty and 19% turnover tax on the value of the goods
Objectives for photographic cameras 6.7% customs duty and 19% turnover tax on the value of the goods
Models of cars 4.7% customs duty and 19% turnover tax on the value of the goods

Customs duty (such as import duty) is almost always calculated on the value of the goods. The value of the goods is the value including shipping and insurance costs up to the Dutch border.
Turnover tax is calculated on the value of the goods (value including shipping and insurance costs to the goods’ destination) plus customs duty. If you wish to calculate import duty, read your supplier’s terms and conditions of delivery.

Tobacco products (eg cigarettes, cigars and tobacco) may only be imported into the Netherlands if Dutch excise stamps are affixed to them. This is generally not the case where goods are bought over the Internet or from mail order companies. Tobacco products arriving in the Netherlands without an excise stamp are confiscated by Customs. For this reason, do not respond to emails from suppliers who offer to deliver tobacco products in the Netherlands at (excessively) low prices.

Mahrou Kharazi & Rajiv Hanoeman

One thought on “Customs’ taxes on online purchases”

  1. Thanks for sharing! It was an interesting aspect usually neglected in theory. It is a very clear indication of what is the role of an Institutional Environment within a marketing value system!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s