COVID-19: What Customs impact? (1/2)

April 02, 2020
by Ghislain de Pazzis

Among the numerous measures or communications in the action against the Covid-19 epidemic, we provide an overview, in two parts, of those relating to Customs rules.

Today, Part 1: the measures aimed at ensuring the continuity of flows and operations so as not to penalize economic stakeholders beyond the health crisis and its impact on the economy due to the administrative constraints related to the confinement.


The movement of goods is ensured

The movement of all types of goods, whatever the mode of transport, remains possible throughout the whole territory. The French Customs Authority recalls that as the risk of being infected by the coronavirus by coming into contact with an object imported from a risk area is “extremely low”, importation from these zones, and therefore China, remains possible. Hygiene measures are however to be implemented (washing hands and surface cleaning). In practice, the EU customs authorities put in place “reserved lanes” at the borders for the transportation of goods.


If goods can circulate, this is not the case for people …

Faced with the difficulties related to directives restricting movement which may be encountered by both operators and public administration officials, arrangements and adaptations have been introduced for Customs inspections and procedures:

Statute of limitations in Customs matters and impact on inspections
The statute of limitations for customs matters, provided by Article 354 of the French Customs Code, is suspended as from 12 March 2020 and up until the end of the “legally protected period” which will terminate one month after the end of the health state of emergency. However, the ordinances do not suspend the customs inspections in progress, which may therefore continue. There are no provisions in these texts regarding new inspections, but the instructions, taking into account current circumstances and particularly the confinement measures, are to not commence new ones.

No extended deadlines for Customs declarations
The deadlines for filing declarations used to establish the amounts of taxes and duties collected by French Customs are not extended, but the Community authorities (DG TAXUD) have notably stated that extensions for the date of filing of supplementary declarations (normally the 10th of the following month) and the time limit for the amendment of declarations already filed has been made possible by the texts in the current circumstances.

Other time limits
Modifications of time limits have also been made as regards:

  • time limits for storage of goods in temporary storage facilities (normally limited to 90 days),
  • reporting deadlines for the arrival of goods under transit procedures.

A certain number of these arrangements are directly accessible to AEO certified operators, whereas uncertified operators must contact Customs authorities to benefit from them.

Arrangements for obtaining BOI, IMF and EUR.1 during the confinement period

Arrangements regarding rules for carrying out antidumping and anti-subsidy investigations


In addition, economic aid measures have been announced

The French Directorate-General for Customs (DGDDI) has introduced exceptional measures in order to provide businesses with support amid the health crisis. These measures are intended for businesses facing financial difficulties from now on which relate to this crisis.
They are directed at professionals of customs clearing, indirect taxes as well as companies liable for the axle tax (TAE), yearly mooring and navigation taxes (DAFN) and the regional dock dues (OMI). Upon explicit and detailed requests from operators, the Collector of Customs Revenue office to which the amounts are due will carry out a rapid review of the file and will decide whether to grant payment facilities. These measures could lead in particular to the granting of the deferral of payments.
In order to facilitate the processing of applications, the DGDDI has made a form available to operators to fill out and return to the functional mailbox of the Customs office responsible for the operator.

We are available to assist you and to determine, without delay, the most pertinent steps to be taken with respect to your company’s position.

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