Import declaration with Sagitta


The Customs want to control all goods that enter the EU. To make that possible, by law all goods that enter the EU are made customs goods.   


Travellers, after an air journey for example, tend to enter goods tacitly, by walking at the airport through the gateway ‘nothing to declare'. Yet customs controls airplane passengers at random. Or it may be that the suitcases are controlled. If then something to declare is found, the passenger gets a fine for trying to smuggle goods.


Trade goods

When entering trade goods a customs declaration must always be made. The person who enters the goods is responsible for making the declaration. But someone else, let us say a customs agent, can make the declaration for you. That customs agent then takes over the responsibility. A containership that enters the Rotterdam port, reports by means of a ‘General Declaration' the containers that are to be unloaded. Next there are the customs agents, importers and others who submit declarations to customs. By doing so the goods are given a new customs destination. The most usual customs destinations are importation or transit.


When submitting an import declaration, the customs levy the possible taxes and carry out other non-fiscal controls. After the declaration the goods are free goods and can be carried off and traded without interference by customs.


The customs agent who declares the goods is the declarant. The declarant takes the responsibility for the declaration procedure. The declarant makes the declaration for importation by means of the customs system ‘Sagitta'. Here you see such a declaration. The most important parts of an import declaration are:

The importer, he is registered by his VAT-number.

The declarant: this can be a customs agent or the importer himself

The goods: these are identified with a unique number. All goods are to be classified in the Harmonised System. 

The country of origin: all countries have a number. 

The value: this is the value of the goods in Euros at the external border of the EU. You can read about how this value is determined in the part on import duties.



The declaration is sent and then processed by the customs computer. The computer determines on the basis of all sorts of criteria whether the transaction is susceptible to fraud or not. If it does not concern any susceptible to fraud goods the selection profile is ‘white'. The declarant will, after a short while, get a return message stating that he can carry off the goods without further control. He receives the ‘Customs-clearance proof'.  


It happens that the selection profile is ‘orange'. In that case the customs will control the declaration from the documents, such as the invoice, the document of origin and possibly other relevant trade papers. The declarant then receives the message ‘Produce Documents'. The declarant must then fax the papers to customs or bring the original papers to the customs office. The customs check if the declaration agrees with the data provided and can then yet approve the declaration and give the Customs-clearance proof. It is also possible that customs make further inquiries, for example whether the produced document of origin is real. In that case the goods are released, but the control is postponed. That is called the ‘Postponed Verification', the goods can be registered, but the taxes are not fixed definitively. That will only happen when the control is rounded off. 


The selection profile can also be ‘red'. In that case the customs will control the goods physically. If the goods are still in Rotterdam at the container terminal, the whole container must be scanned and if need be, unpacked. If the goods are somewhere in a lorry, or in a shed, customs send a mobile team to control the goods. Only when these controls have taken place the Customs-clearance proof is given. When all controls are rounded off customs give the ‘Notice of Terminated Verification'. On the Verification terminated are given the taxes to be paid.


Download examples:

Customs-clearance proof

Notice of terminated Verification


How customs work?

Dutch customs are organised in a complex but efficient way.

Read more

Import duties

Import duties depend on the kind of goods, the country or origin and the value of the goods. By levying import duties governments can steer the economy to a certain extend.

Read more

Origin regulations

When origin regulations are correctly applied, they offer the possibility of paying lower or no import duties.

Read more


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Contact Maco

If you have any questions about Dutch or European customs, ask Maco by filling in the questions form.  We will give you an answer within one working day.

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Maco Customs Clearance
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