Brussels waives VAT on medical devices and testing kits

The European Commission has published a decision to help Member States affected by the coronavirus pandemic to temporarily suspend customs duties and VAT on protective equipment, testing kits or medical devices such as ventilators

The measures outlined in this Decision will apply for a period of six months, with a possibility for further extension
The measures outlined in this Decision will apply for a period of six months, with a possibility for further extension

The European Commission has published a decision to help Member States affected by the coronavirus pandemic to temporarily suspend customs duties and VAT on protective equipment, testing kits or medical devices such as ventilators. The measures outlined in this Decision will apply for a period of six months, with a possibility for further extension.

Current EU legislation has exceptional tools available in order to help victims of disasters, which can be used to face the unprecedented health crisis caused by the coronavirus.

EU customs legislation provides for the possibility of granting duty relief for the “benefit of disaster victims”. It can be applied to imports by State organisations or approved charitable or philanthropic organisations. To grant relief, a decision from the Commission is required, acting at the request of the Member States concerned.

Similarly, EU VAT law has mirroring provisions on exemption from VAT on the final importation of certain goods.

The Commission decision will be applicable from 30 January 2020 until 31 July 2020. This allows for specific imports carried out during the incipient phase of the outbreak to also benefit from the exemption.

The duty and VAT relief applies to imports by: state organisations (state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law including hospitals, governmental organisations, communes/towns, regional governments, etc.); charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities of the Member States.

The Member States should inform the Commission of the nature and quantities of the various goods admitted free of import duties and VAT with a view to combating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, of the organisations they have approved for the distribution or making available of those goods and of the measures taken to prevent the goods from being used for purposes other than to combat the effects of this outbreak.

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy said: “In this emergency it is vital that medical equipment and devices get quickly to where they are needed. By waiving customs and VAT duties on imports of these products from outside the EU, the European Commission will help make those products more accessible. I want to express again my deep respect and gratitude to health workers across Europe. Today’s measure should help them receive the equipment they need to protect themselves and continue saving lives.”

More in Europe