FAQs concerning the new e-commerce regulations from 1 July 2021 Fairness for Austrian economy
It's the little things that count too
From 1 July 2021 on, all online orders from the first cent will be taxed the same - regardless of where the products come from. This is how the domestic economy is protected.
All information on the elimination of the tax exemption limit and the effects for citizens.
From 1 July 2021 on, the tax-free limit for importing consignments with a merchandise value of less than € 22 from non-EU countries will no longer apply. With effect from 1 July 2021, import VAT must thus be paid for every imported consignment/item from the first cent of merchandise value.
By this tax-free limit, goods from non-EU countries were favoured over goods from the EU. Imported goods thus competed unfairly with EU goods. Abuse of the import exemption resulted in unfair competition. Many foreign online mail-order companies exploited the exemption for VAT fraud.
The new regulation is intended to put a stop to this abuse and strengthen the domestic economy. The abolition of the tax-free limit creates more tax fairness between global trading companies as well as traders in the EU and thus also Austrian traders. For the customer who buys from Austrian retailers or mail order companies in the EU, respectively, must also pay VAT on the goods.
From 1 July 2021, a customs declaration must be submitted by Österreichische Post AG or another transport company or delivery service for each consignment imported into the EU. With effect from 1 July 2021, import VAT (as an equivalent to VAT) will be payable on goods from the first cent of merchandise value, with the standard tax rate in Austria being 20%.
There is an exemption from import VAT from 1 July 2021 for sales that are declared via the IOSS. In this case, the VAT will already be invoiced by the entrepreneur or the internet platform for the consignment in the context of the order. Instead of the import VAT, the entrepreneur or the internet platform delivers the collected VAT via the IOSS portal. However, the prerequisite for the application of the exemption from import VAT is that the platform identification number required for participation in the IOSS is presented to customs at the latest when the import customs declaration is submitted. Otherwise, in addition to the VAT to be declared via the IOSS, import VAT would also have to be paid and there would be a multiple tax burden.
Attention: A customs declaration must also be made when the IOSS is used.
If the supplier/the internet platform from which you ordered your goods does not participate in the Import One Stop Shop system on or after 1 July 2021, Österreichische Post AG or the transport company or delivery service, respectively, will advance the import VAT for you. You will be charged for this service. Thus, you will have to pay both the import VAT and the service charges of your deliverer upon receipt of your consignment.
For consignments with a merchandise value of more than € 150, the import VAT and any customs duties incurred will in every case be collected by the customs service. An exemption due to the use of the IOSS special regulation is not possible because the IOSS can only be used for import sales orders of up to 150 euros. For such consignments, too, Österreichische Post AG or the transport company or delivery service, respectively, will advance the duties for you and collect them from you upon delivery, including any service charges.
Note: In the event of problems or ambiguities in connection with taxation or settlement in the case of orders for which VAT has also already been charged by the internet platform, it is therefore advised to contact the internet platform directly. In such a case, neither Austrian customs service nor Österreichische Post AG or any other delivery company (such as DHL, GLS, Hermes, etc.) are responsible for tax collection.
For a customs declaration and verification of fulfilment of the import regulations, information on the merchandise value and content of the goods is required. If all the required details and information are enclosed with the consignment by the sender, customs clearance will be carried out without delay. If any details, information or documents are missing, the Postal Service/delivery service will have to contact you as the recipient before the consignment can be declared to the customs service.
Please note that goods from countries outside the European Union (i.e. from a so-called third country) must be declared to the customs service by Österreichische Post AG or another delivery service before they are delivered.
For this customs declaration, the Postal Service/delivery service requires the following documents and information in particular:
- Order confirmations
- Payment documents
- Import licences
- Import certificates etc.
If any information is missing, the Postal Service/delivery service will contact you as the recipient. In such a case, you will receive a corresponding notification from the Postal Service/delivery service. Only when all the necessary documents and information are available can the Postal Service/delivery service declare the consignment to the customs service.
The customs authority then checks on a risk-oriented basis whether any duties are payable, or whether there has been a breach of import regulations (e.g. Austrian Medicinal Products Import Act or legislature on species protection, product safety, etc.) (see also Internet Shopping).
These processes may take some time.
For the customs clearance of your consignment, the Postal Service/delivery service requires an order confirmation and a payment confirmation.
An order confirmation must show clearly
- the article concerned,
- the quantity ordered,
- individual values for the ordered articles, and
- the shipping costs paid.
If you have been contacted by the Postal Service/delivery service and are unsure which items are included in the consignment to be cleared, compare the consignment number you have received from Österreichische Post AG or another delivery service with the number shown by the online shop you are using.
As payment confirmation, Österreichische Post AG or the respective delivery service requires an extract of the corresponding booking line. These can be, for example, PayPal invoices, credit card statements or bank transfer confirmations. Please note that documents in non-Latin scripts (Chinese, Cyrillic…) and proforma invoices cannot be accepted.
If no VAT is shown on your invoice, you must pay it upon receipt of your parcel. Until then, Österreichische Post AG or another delivery service will advance the tax for you. You will be charged an extra fee for this service. Thus, you may incur the following costs:
- From 1 July 2021 on, 20% import VAT will be payable on every consignment imported into the EU from the first cent of merchandise value.
- If the merchandise value exceeds € 150, customs duty may additionally be payable. The amount of these duties is variable and highly dependent on the goods themselves.
- Excise duties are payable on all excise goods such as tobacco and tobacco products, perfumes and eau de toilette or alcoholic products – even on goods with a value of less than € 150. In this case, any customs duty will also be payable.
- For the advancement of these duties at the customs service, Österreichische Post AG or the transport company or delivery service transporting the parcel, respectively, collects a service fee. Regarding the amount of this fee, please contact Österreichische Post AG or the transport company or delivery service (such as DHL, GLS, Hermes etc.), respectively.
Private gift deliveries up to a value of € 45 are exempt from the duties. For tobacco and tobacco products, perfumes and eau de toilette as well as alcoholic products, however, duty exemption can be granted only within the specific quantity limits (e.g. max. 50 cigarettes or 10 cigars, max. 2 litres of wine, or max. 1 litre of schnapps).
For more information on duty exemption, please see Postal traffic.
Private gift deliveries are consignments of goods from one private individual from a non-EU country to another private individual in the EU if they
- are performed occasionally,
- consist exclusively of goods for personal use and do not, by their nature and quantity, give rise to a presumption of importation for commercial purposes, and
- are received by the recipient without any payment.
For private gift deliveries, duty exemption applies up to a merchandise value of € 45.
If you have paid only the merchandise value and possibly shipping costs when placing your order, import duties (import VAT, possibly also customs duties or excise duties) will also be payable upon importation of consignments from non-EU countries.
You may have ordered goods via a European ordering portal. However, the consignment was sent directly from the respective production countries, for example from China, by the respective trader who sells goods via this ordering portal. The country of production is a third country. Goods from a third country must be declared to the customs service by the Postal Service/delivery service. From 1 July 2021 on, import VAT will be charged on goods from the first cent of merchandise value (standard tax rate: 20%). If the merchandise value exceeds € 150, additionally customs duties may be incurred.
For a customs declaration for economic operators, transmission of the EORI № is additionally required. If you are contacted by the Postal Service/delivery service and do not have an EORI № yet, you must apply to the Customs Authority Austria to get one. Further information can be found at Economic Operators Registration and Identification.
You can find comprehensive information on this in the Business Service Portal on the Value Added Tax One Stop Shop page.
The Austrian Customs Administration will be happy to answer your questions and discuss your concerns regarding e-commerce for the import of consignments from non-EU countries. Our experts strive to provide a quick and competent answer. We would like to point out that the information provided is not legally binding.
We ask for your understanding that the customs service cannot provide any information about the status or whereabouts of your consignment, respectively! Please contact solely your consignment service provider for this.
Phone +43 50 233 729
Please send your requests preferably by email. We will answer your enquiries by telephone from Monday to Friday from 6:00 to 22:00 o’clock.