The European Commission has announced plans for new e-commerce customs rules that are set to affect parcels worth less than €150 for the first time. The current threshold, which exempts goods valued at less than €150 from customs duty, is being targeted by the European Commission due to the high levels of fraud it attracts. The EU body claims that up to 65% of such parcels entering the EU are undervalued to avoid customs duties on import. The reforms are expected to bring in additional customs revenues of around €1bn per year.
The proposed changes will impact e-commerce giants such as Amazon, as they will be prohibited from charging customers hidden fees or unexpected paperwork when the parcel arrives. The new regulations will ensure that e-commerce companies guarantee that customs duties and VAT are paid at the initial purchase stage. The plans are part of the European Commission’s proposals to reform the EU Customs Union, which was established in 1968. The reforms will be sent to the European Parliament and the EU Council for agreement, and to the European Economic and Social Committee for consultation.
As part of the proposals, a new EU Customs Authority is set to be created to oversee an EU Customs Data Hub, which is expected to act as a single online portal for importers. This hub aims to replace the existing customs IT infrastructure across the EU, saving member states up to €2bn a year in operating costs. The data hub would open for e-commerce consignments in 2028, followed by other importers on a voluntary basis in 2032.
The Commission claims that these reforms are necessary due to the current pressures under which EU Customs operates. This includes a huge increase in trade volumes, particularly in e-commerce, a fast-growing number of EU standards that must be checked at the border, and shifting geopolitical realities and crises. The new proposals are expected to help tackle these issues and ensure a smoother flow of goods across EU borders.
While the proposed changes are expected to bring in additional revenues for customs, they may also have an impact on consumers. Shoppers who purchase items worth less than €150 may face additional charges, which could make online shopping less attractive. However, the European Commission claims that the reforms are necessary to combat fraud and ensure a level playing field for all businesses.
Overall, the proposed changes to e-commerce customs rules are set to have a significant impact on the industry. E-commerce companies will need to ensure that customs duties and VAT are paid at the initial purchase stage, and consumers may face additional charges when purchasing items worth less than €150. However, the creation of a new EU Customs Authority and an EU Customs Data Hub is expected to bring significant benefits in terms of cost savings and a smoother flow of goods across EU borders.