Goods imported into the European Union (EU) are regulated by a number of measures aimed at placing member state businesses on an equal footing with companies elsewhere in the world. An important tool in this regard is End-Use Relief, which allows a reduced or zero rate of Customs duty on a small list of named goods to be used for prescribed purposes under Customs control and within a specified time period.
Essentially, the relief is available on certain EU imports that are to be processed or put to specific uses. It can be used by individuals, partnerships or corporate bodies that are established within the European Community, acting on their own behalf or representing a non-EU body.
To qualify, the following must apply: authorisation for the relief must be in place; the goods must be eligible; the goods must be put to their prescribed end-use within agreed time limits; and the relief recipient must be able to demonstrate the goods have been put to their prescribed use.
If the goods are not put to their prescribed end use, duty is due and will be claimed by Customs.
A T5 form demonstrates that the goods indeed followed the destination, underwent the stated process/treatment or were given the use for which the authorisation was granted. It also enables the transfer of goods benefiting from relief without any Customs formalities.
Certain seafood products are among those items eligible for relief, and Pittman Seafoods imports a number of species under the procedure, including lobster meat and cod, hoki and hake fillets. Once in Europe, these products are processed into market-ready formats.
To qualify for relief, products must fall into two categories: fish for processing or fish classified for use in the industrial manufacture of products under Harmonised System (HS) heading 1604. The latter basically covers:
• Fish cooked or otherwise prepared or preserved (e.g., fish fillets covered with batter or breadcrumbs, or tuna fish that has had a marinade added or cooked)
• Fish that has been boiled, steamed, grilled, fried, roasted or otherwise cooked
• Fish prepared or preserved in vinegar, oil, fish marinades, fish sausages and fish paste
• Fish and their parts, prepared or preserved by other processes not provided for in HS headings 0302 to 0305 (e.g., finely homogenised fish, pasteurised or sterilised fish)
• Certain food preparations containing fish
• Caviar and its substitutes.
Products that are not eligible for relief include: fish thawed, cut into steaks, glazed and vacuum packed; smoked fish, which may have undergone cooking during or before the smoking process; and salmon minced and mixed with mayonnaise (used for salmon sandwiches of the type sold in large supermarkets) unless the product contains at least 20 per cent salmon by weight.
Shrimp or prawns are also eligible for relief. However, products of HS heading 0306 would need to be subjected to an industrial process that would result in them being classified under HS heading 1605. This would require the shrimp to be incorporated into pies, curries etc.
In addition, the manufacture of prawn sandwiches undertaken at a factory level for onward supply—to supermarkets, retail stores and foodservice—also qualifies for relief. But sandwich making undertaken at retail or catering establishment is not considered eligible. The same applies to operations that solely involve chilling, freezing or glazing shrimp.
IN THE SMALLPRINT
Importers and traders should note that qualification for End-Use Relief does not remove the obligation to pay any other importation charges to which the goods may be liable, such as excise duty, anti-dumping duty and value added tax (VAT).
Also, fish eligibility can change as a result of quota adjustments and duty suspensions. It is therefore advised that importers/traders regularly consult their country’s Customs head office to establish compliance.
*The Harmonised System (HS) is a commodity classification system in which articles are grouped largely according to the nature of the materials from which they are made. The HS code is used as a basis for Customs tariffs and for the collection of international trade statistics. For more details, see www.hscode.org.