Types of Customs Procedures

June 03 2020
Tipos de Regímenes Aduaneros

Customs procedures are established and controlled by the European Union Customs Code (EUCC), which is the main EU Customs Law. It is important to know its regulations since they regulate all the customs formalities that take place within the Community territory.

The current code is that of 1 May 2016, but its implementation will be fully completed in 2020 when all the countries belonging to the European Union have the necessary tools and software.

Before going into detail on the subject of customs procedures, a distinction should be made between the concept of import-export and that of the intra-Community acquisition of goods.

  • Imports – exports are those commercial actions that have as an objective the introduction or exit from the national territory – by means of terrestrialair or sea transport – of goods whose origin or destination are countries that do not belong to the European Union, that is, third countries.
  • The Intra-Community acquisitions of goods are commercial actions with the same objective as imports and exports, but on this occasion the goods do come from European Union countries.

Why is it important to differentiate between imports – exports and the intra-community acquisitions of goods in this post? Because the latter belong to a different regime thanks to one of the basic pillars of the European Union: the free movement of goods within Community territory. That regime is what we call it: Absolute Commercial Freedom in which the goods (as a general rule, since there are exceptions) do not require the processing of any special document.

All goods entering or leaving a country must be subject to a series of rules in order to be able to circulate legally; it is necessary to comply with the so-called Customs Regimes.

What are the Customs Procedures?

The Customs procedures are the set of managements and operations that are carried out related to a specific customs destination, when you want to import or export a certain merchandise. *They are established by Regulation (EU) 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 October 2013.

If the goods come from an EU country, as we have commented, they are under the regulations of the Regime of Absolute Commercial Freedom, if on the contrary they come from a third country, they must be subject to one of the following regimes:

Types of Customs Procedures

These are the types of customs regimes by the CAU:

  • Export.
  • Dispatch to Free Practice.
  • Special customs regimes.


The export procedure is aimed at those European Union goods that are going to leave the Union’s customs territory, and that do not do so temporarily

Release into Free Circulation

What type of goods are covered by the customs regime of Release into Free Circulation? To all those goods that do not belong to the European Union but that want to be introduced in the market of the Union, or to be consumed or used in a private way.

The regime of Release into Free Circulation gives the goods the customs status of the European Union after the corresponding duties have been paid. They will then be released for consumption after payment of local taxes (VAT) and other excise duties if necessary.

Special Customs Procedures

Within this classification we find the following types of customs regimes:

  • Transit: external and internal.
  • Storage: customs warehouses and free zones.
  • Special destinations: temporary importation and final destination.
  • Processing: inward and outward processing.


Goods transported from one country to another via the territory of the European Union under the TIR Convention, the ATA Convention-Istanbul Convention, the 302 form or via the postal system. In this way, the customs territory forms a “single territory”.

  • External: this is the case when the goods belong to a third country and need to be transported through the Customs Territory of the Union (TAU) to reach another non-EU country without having to pay duties or be subject to trade control measures.
  • Internal: Community goods that are transported to an EU country and need to pass through a non-EU country without their customs status being changed.


The storage or warehousing system allows non-Community goods to be stored on Union territory without being subject to duties, taxes or commercial policy measures for an unlimited period.

  • Customs warehouse
  • Free zones: goods stored in the free zones of the TAU may be exported and re-exported outside Community territory or transported to another country of the Union. In addition, within these defined areas, any industrial, commercial or service activity is permitted provided that it is authorised by the relevant customs office.

Special destinations

Within this type of regime we highlight:

  • Final destination: goods released for free circulation duty free or at a reduced rate of duty on account of their end-use, compliance that will be monitored by the customs authorities.
  • Temporary import: non-Community goods which are carried by the TAU for re-export with total or partial exemption from import duties (import VAT) and without being subject to commercial policies.


Within this type of regime we highlight:

  • Active refinement or RPA: non-Community goods may be processed within the TAU without payment of duties, taxes or commercial policy measures.
  • Passive Refinement or RPP: We speak of RPP when Community goods require temporary movement out of the TAU to be processed. Once the processing operations have been carried out, the resulting goods may be released for free circulation with total or partial relief from import duties at the request of the holder of the authorisation.

Each of these schemes requires a number of specific formalities and documents, and a great deal of experience and knowledge of them is therefore necessary to ensure that the transport of goods is not inconvenienced or delayed.  At CST Group we have a perfectly qualified team to ensure that this does not happen.

The transport of international merchandise requires extensive knowledge of the different regulations and documentation existing in each country. Knowing the necessary information in each case as well as the required deadlines is essential for both importers and exporters to carry out their shipments quickly and safely.