Importation of medical devices and equipment: what opportunities are there for customs duties and VAT?

April 17, 2020
Ghislain de Pazzis

The refund of VAT and customs duties on health devices and equipment imported since 30 January 2020 may be requested!

The State has implemented a measure for exemption of taxes and duties on the importation of medical devices and equipment (masks, gowns, ventilators, etc.) with the aim of enabling the supply of healthcare facilities, emergency units and other public or non-profit organizations involved in the fight against the virus, a priori not subject to VAT refunds, without tax impact (around 25%).

You are:

  • a public or semi-public body;
  • an association established under the Law of 1901;
  • a recognized public interest foundation;
  • or a private individual whose services have been requisitioned by a public authority (ARS, prefecture or other) for the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

You work in the fight against the pandemic or in the medico-social sector (EHPAD, services to individuals, SSIAD, accompaniment of children and adults with disabilities, etc.)

You have imported in 2020 medical equipment (particularly protective clothing, masks, gowns and similar items, COVID-19 test kits, thermometers, instruments and apparatus for diagnostic tests, medicinal products and medical devices, medical consumables, items for sterilization, disinfectants, soap, hydro alcoholic gel, etc.) directly, or acquire this equipment from an intermediary (regrouping of orders) having imported it.

You have distributed or planned to distribute freely (gift or provision) this equipment to contaminated persons (or at risk) or to persons involved in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

You can therefore request a refund of VAT and customs duties on these medical devices and equipment imported since 30 January 2020!

In short, to date, this system of exemption of taxes and duties for the importation of medical material and equipment:

  • benefits public law bodies, private law entities incorporated in the form of an association under the Law of 1901 or recognized public interest foundations;
  • allows equipment to be acquired from intermediaries (regrouping of orders) but provided that they comply with specific customs formalities;
  • is retroactive to 30 January 2020, which enables eligible organizations to request the refund of customs duties and VAT paid on importations since 30 January 2020.

This exemption thereby opens the way for retroactive claims for refund of importation taxes and duties by eligible organizations having had imported in their name, including if they have acquired them from trading companies.

These claims require:

  • beforehand , to verify the possibility of benefiting from the exemption,
  • then complying with certain customs formalities (notably rectification of importation documents, request for retrospective approval and application for EORI number) which requires the involvement of partners engaged in importation and exportation operations.

NB, however, requests for refunds are limited to operations for the period from 30 January to 13 April 2020 and are not possible for importations that have occurred as from 14 April 2020, which should be carried out by complying with the deductible threshold.

We are of course available to assist you in your discussions and the steps to be taken to examine the benefit of this exemption and to obtain it for past and /or future imports.

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