Import distance sale

The regulations on import distance sale apply to certain deliveries from a third country to the EU.

General information

A sale is deemed as import distance sale if a business delivers goods from a non-EU country to specific purchasers (e.g. consumers) in an EU Member State. In concrete terms, this is the same group of purchasers as in the case of intra-community distance sales. Apart from a few exceptions, every goods item may be subject to the rules and regulations for import distance sales. Excepted from this provision is the delivery of goods subject to excise duty to a legal person that is a non-business consumer and the delivery of new vehicles.

Please note

The rules and regulations for the import distance sale have been in effect since 1 July 2021.

Place of supply

For import distance sales from a non-EU country, additional value-added tax is payable over and above the import VAT in the Member State in which the transport or dispatch ends (country of destination), if the place of supply of the import distance sale is in that Member State. The place of supply for import distance sales (in contrast to section 3, paragraph 8 or 9 of the Umsatzsteuergesetz (UStG)) is in two cases the location in which the movement of goods ends:

  • The goods are imported in a different EU Member State than the one in which the carriage of the goods ends.
  • The business makes use of the specific arrangement for the IOSS (section 25b of the Umsatzsteuergesetz (UStG) of 1994). For order distance sales of imported goods declared through the IOSS, no additional import VAT is payable, if the company presents its IOSS number to the customs office at the latest when submitting the import customs declaration. Furthermore, the business only needs to register for VAT in one Member State and is able to declare and make payments via the IOSS for VAT payable anywhere in the EU for order distance sales of imported goods with a real value that does not exceed Euro 150.

What is the difference between import distance sales and intra-community distance sales?

The rules and regulations for import distance sales apply only for distance sales from a non-EU country into the EU. However, if a goods item is delivered to a consumer in Austria not from a non-EU country but from another EU Member State, the rules and regulations for intra-community distance sales and not those for import distance sales must be followed. Furthermore, unlike for intra-community distance sales, import distance sales are not subject to any sales limit or delivery threshold.

Sales via platforms

In the case of sales via a platform, the VAT for order distance sales of imported goods is, under certain conditions, not to be declared and paid by the company but by the platform via which the sale takes place (§ 3 paragraph 3a no. 1 UStG 1994). This applies to order distance sales of imported goods with a real value that does not exceed Euro 150 and for which the platform acts in a "supporting" capacity. The platform can declare these sales via the IOSS.

Translated by the European Commission, altered by the Federal Ministry of Finance
Last update: 1 January 2022

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Finance

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