Returns and Goods Returned in Relation to Customs Fees

Lilla Zsitnyanszky

June 27, 2023

German Version

Most e-commerce companies face a high volume of returned goods, often including items sent from abroad if products are shipped internationally. In this post, we'll explain the key customs-related aspects and steps associated with returns and merchandise returns from abroad.

What does "Goods Returned" mean?

"Goods returned" refer to items that were exported from the EU and are either intended to be re-imported into the EU or need to be returned due to specific circumstances. When the conditions are met, goods returned can be reintroduced into the EU's free circulation without incurring import duties (customs duties and usually import VAT). This also applies to partial quantities, parts, and accessories of previously exported goods. It's essential to provide evidence that the imported goods and the previously exported goods are identical ("identity proof").

For goods to be treated as goods returned, they must have originally come from the EU and must have genuinely been exported from the EU customs territory. Additionally, they generally need to be re-imported into the EU and placed under customs control within three years to regain their original customs status.

Note: Even for returned goods, regulations for import prohibitions and restrictions (IPR) must be adhered to during importation.

What documents are required for re-importation?

To re-import goods returned into the EU, specific documents must be presented. If the value of the goods is over 1,000 euros or the weight exceeds 1,000 kg, an import declaration is required.

The declaration can be submitted electronically in the ATLAS system using procedure code 4010 or through the Single Administrative Document (SAD) (in box 37), or verbally using the commercial invoice.

Additionally, one of the following export evidence documents must be provided:

  • A copy of the export declaration

  • A copy of the original invoice or export delivery note

  • Other evidence documents such as correspondence and brochures.

It's crucial to provide evidence that the imported goods are goods returned, originally originating from the EU, and were genuinely exported from the EU customs territory. This can be indicated in the electronic customs declaration within one of the free-text fields or using form 0328 "Information on Proof of the Nature of Returned Goods."

However, it's important to note that customs regulations can vary by country and region. Therefore, it's advisable to inquire about specific customs requirements before re-importing goods returned.

traide Support

While the application of HS codes (6-digit commodity tariff numbers) should be globally uniform, there are cases at the subheading level (e.g., with 8-digit numbers) where the tariff number needs individual adjustment. 

With traide AI, you can determine the correct customs tariff number.

For questions or uncertainties, you can reach out to customs authorities or utilize traide AI. With the help of traide AI, you can identify the correct customs tariff number and thus avoid potential errors when re-importing goods returned. 

For further inquiries, please don't hesitate to contact us at

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