Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.
Last Published: 8/29/2019
The Single Administrative Document
The official model for written declarations to customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The SAD describes goods and their movement around the world and is essential for trade outside the EU, or for non-EU goods. Goods brought into the EU customs territory are, from the time of their entry, subject to customs supervision until customs formalities are completed.  Goods are covered by a Summary Declaration which is filed once the items have been presented to customs officials. The customs authorities may, however, allow a period for filing the Declaration which cannot be extended beyond the first working day following the day on which the goods are presented to customs. 
The Summary Declaration is filed by:
  • the person who brought the goods into the customs territory of the Community or by any person who assumes responsibility for carriage of the goods following such entry; or
  • the person in whose name the person referred to above acted.
The Summary Declaration can be made on a form provided by the customs authorities.  However, customs authorities may also allow the use of any commercial or official document that contains the specific information required to identify the goods.  The SAD serves as the EU importer's declaration.  It encompasses both customs duties and VAT and is valid in all EU Member States. The declaration is made by whoever is clearing the goods, normally the importer of record or his/her agent.
European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein also use the SAD. Information on import/export forms is contained in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No. 2015/2446.
More information on the SAD can be found at:
Single Administration Document
EU Customs Code
The Union Customs Code (UCC) was adopted in 2013 and its substantive provisions went into effect on 1 May 2016.  It has replaced the Community Customs Code (CCC). In addition to the UCC, the European Commission published delegated and implementing regulations on the actual procedural changes.
Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI)
Since July 1, 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an EORI number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration.  All U.S. companies should use this number for their customs clearances. An EORI number must be formally requested from the customs authorities of the specific member state to which the company first exports. Member state customs authorities may request additional documents to be submitted alongside a formal request for an EORI number. Once a company has received an EORI number, it can use it for exports to any of the 28 EU Member States.  There is no single format for the EORI number.  Once an operator holds an EORI number s/he can request the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO: see below under “MRA”) status, which can give quicker access to certain simplified customs procedures.
More information about the EORI number can be found at Economic Operator Identification and Registration
U.S. – EU Customs Cooperation
Since 1997, the United States and the EU have had a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) on customs cooperation for matters relating to the application of customs laws. For additional information, please see Agreements with the United States
In 2012 the United States and the EU signed a Decision recognizing the compatibility of AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) and C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism), thereby facilitating faster and more secure trade between U.S. and EU operators. The World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards provides the global standard for AEO.  AEO certification is issued by a national customs authority and is recognized by all Member States’ customs agencies.  As of April 17, 2017, an AEO can consist of two different types of authorization: “customs simplification” or “security and safety.”  The former allows for an AEO to benefit from simplification related to customs legislation, while the latter allows for facilitation through security and safety procedures.  Shipping to a trader with AEO status could facilitate an exporter’s trade as its benefits include expedited processing of shipments, reduced theft/losses, reduced data requirements, lower inspection costs, and enhanced loyalty and recognition. Under the revised Union Customs Code, in order for an operator to make use of certain customs simplifications, the authorization of AEO becomes mandatory.
The United States and the EU recognize each other’s security certified operators and will take the respective membership status of certified trusted traders favorably into account to the extent possible.  The favorable treatment provided by the Decision will result in lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability for transatlantic business activities.  It officially recognizes the compatibility of AEO and C-TPAT programs, thereby facilitating faster and more secure trade between U.S. and EU operators. The Decision was originally signed in May 2012 and was implemented in two phases. The first commenced in July 2012 with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) placing shipments coming from EU AEO members into a lower risk category.  The second phase took place in early 2013, with the EU re-classifying shipments coming from C-TPAT members into a lower risk category.  CBP identification numbers for foreign manufacturers (MID) are therefore recognized by customs authorities in the EU, as per Commission Delegated Regulation 2015/2446 (see above).
Additional Information on the Decision

 

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