Revenue Note for Guidance

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Revenue Note for Guidance



This Part, which has 6 sections, contains the VAT provisions relating to goods imported into the State from outside the EU as well as the rules relating to the export of goods from the State to destinations outside the Community. Certain territories are regarded as being inside or outside the EU for VAT purposes – see Table 1.2 with the notes on section 2(4).

For VAT purposes,

  • Imports are goods brought into Ireland from outside the EU. VAT and customs duty are normally paid at import, unless a deferred payment system is available. The rate is normally the rate that applies to the sale of similar goods in the State.
  • Exports are goods supplied subject to a condition that they are to be transported to a place outside the EU. Exports are zero-rated.

The Part covers the following: -

  • general rules for imports,
  • relief for import VAT,
  • special provisions for goods from accession countries under transit, temporary importation or transit/customs procedures,
  • the special scheme under which exporters and suppliers to other Member States can have their inputs zero-rated (previously known as section 13A authorisations), and
  • provisions for repaying tax on exports and services related thereto and the retail export scheme.

53. Imports – general provisions


This section sets out the general VAT rules for imports – that is, goods arriving from outside the EU. Broadly speaking, the rates of VAT on imports are the same rates that apply to sales in the State of similar goods. Goods that are zero-rated in the State are also zero-rated at import; goods subject to 9%, 13.5% or 23% in the State are subject to the same rates at import. (One exception covers works of art, etc. listed in Schedule 5 that are liable at 13.5%.)


(1) The valuation for VAT purposes of imported goods is done on the same basis as for customs purposes. Also, expenses incurred in the transport of imported goods to a place of destination within the EU, if known at the time of customs clearance, must be included in the value for VAT at import and charged accordingly.


If goods imported at Dublin are known to be under consignment to Cork, and the cost of the transport to Cork is known to the customs clearance agent at the time of entry and declared on the entry, then the taxable amount for VAT must include transport costs to Cork. Similarly, all the onward transport costs (where known) associated with goods imported into Ireland whose final destination is in another Member State must be included in the taxable amount for VAT at import.

  • The value for VAT is the sum of the following amounts:
  • Value for customs,
  • Customs duty or other tax (but not VAT),
  • Transport /handling /insurance costs, and
  • Onward transport costs.

(2) Subsection (2) is an anti-avoidance measure. It provides that, with effect from 1 January 2011, where a supply or transfer of goods to a taxable person in another Member State follows the importation of those goods, the importer must, at the time of the importation, provide certain information (including the importer’s VAT number and the VAT number of the customer in the other Member State) before zero-rating of the importation is allowed.

(3) Subject to subsection (1) and sections 53A and 54, Customs law applies to VAT on importation as if it were a duty of customs, subject to any modifications specified in regulations. (See Regulation 14 of the VAT Regulations 2010.)

Relevant Date: Finance Act 2020