Customs and VAT exemption on delivery of humanitarian aid for refugees from Ukraine – transported from outside of the EU to Poland
This article is definitely for you, if your answer is “yes” to both questions below:
- Would you like to support refugees from Ukraine staying in Poland?
- Would you like to send goods from outside of the UE to Poland for the refugees from Ukraine?
There are two basic ways to send goods for the support of Ukrainian people from outside of the EU via Polish territory:
- Transit the goods of humanitarian aid through the territory of Poland directly to Ukraine – then as a rule the goods from outside of the EU will not be released into free circulation in the EU, while transported from outside of the EU (i.e. the UK) to outside of the EU (Ukraine).
- Release the goods of humanitarian aid into free circulation (import) in Poland – then to be distributed among Ukrainian refugees.
In this article we will focus on the second option, meaning the release into free circulation (import). Import of goods results with arising of customs debt. Customs debt is as a rule connected with the customs duty due and import taxes. Nevertheless, in the case of humanitarian aid both customs and VAT exemption is provided by the EU law. Below we summarize the conditions to apply the exemption.
What kind of goods could be covered by the exemption and who should be the sender and recipient of goods to benefit from the exemption?
|Goods type||Sent by||Imported by||To be used for|
|Basic necessities - those goods required to meet the immediate needs of human beings, for example food, medicine, clothing and bed-clothes||State organisations or other charitable or philanthropic organisations|
|Goods of every description sent free of charge and without any commercial intent on the part of the sender||A person or an organisation established outside the customs territory of the EU||State organisations or other charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities||Fund-raising at occasional charity events for the benefit of needy persons|
|Equipment and office materials sent free of charge and without any commercial intent on the part of the sender||A person or an organisation established outside the customs territory of the EU||Charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities||To be used solely for the purpose of meeting their operating needs or carrying out their charitable or philanthropic aims|
No relief shall be granted for alcoholic products, tobacco or tobacco products, coffee and tea, motor vehicles other than ambulances.
More details about types of organizations eligible to benefit from the customs and VAT review are provided in the regulation issued by the Polish Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
After benefiting from the exemption, the respective organization is obliged to notify the competent authorities prior to: (i) lending, (ii) hiring out or (iii) transferring the goods and equipment imported with the exemption to other organization that entitled to benefit from the exemption, whether for a consideration or free of charge.
If done without the notification to the competent authoritiese, loan, hiring out or transfer shall be subject to prior payment of import duties, at the rate applying on the date of the loan, hiring out or transfer, on the basis of the type of goods or equipment and the customs value ascertained or accepted on that date by the competent authorities.
Similarly, should be treated goods and equipment remaining in the possession of organisations which cease to fulfil the conditions giving entitlement to the relief.
The way of providing support of Ukrainian refugees with humanitarian aid in practice should be prior consulted with:
- State organisations or other charitable or philanthropic organisations to confirm whether the organization is able to fulfill all of the obligations for the customs and VAT waiver on importation;
- transport company and customs broker to reconfirm that they will be using all available simplifications of formalities on the way of goods to Ukraine or Poland or any other country where the Ukrainian refugees are located;
- customs lawyers / tax advisors in case of further doubts.