On 3 April 2020, the European Commission published Decision C(2020) 2146 „on relief from import duties and VAT exemption on importation granted for goods needed to combat the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak during 2020”. The measure extends for instance to any kind of protective and medical equipment such as gloves, masks, glasses and ventilators imported after 30 January 2020, and will remain in place for six months.
Following frequent contacts with the European Commission to obtain the right for food retailers to import protective equipment without VAT and duties, Independent Retail Europe has received confirmation that Member States can indeed apply this Decision to food retailers when they import PPE for their own „immediate benefit”, i.e. to provide their staff with the protection they need.
Under the decision, the competent authorities in the Member States will have the final say over the applicability of the exemption, meaning they first need to approve (food) distributors as organisations that can import certain goods for the protection of their staff. They will also have to take the necessary measures to ensure that the goods imported duty and VAT free are in fact being delivered to the bodies eligible for exemption.
To obtain such official approval, members are advised to ask their national associations to contact their competent national authority or, alternatively, their customs authority which should be able to refer them to the competent authority.