Customs, E-Commerce, VAT | 23. April 2021

Distance selling from a third country and how the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) works

The new regulations that will come into force on July 1, 2021, and apply to distance sales from a third country are complex and extensive. In this article, we introduce the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) and its application cases and limits. by

20210423 Bild Fernverkauf Drittland und IOSS schmaler
20210423 Bild Fernverkauf Drittland und IOSS schmaler
  • The following is a summary of the most important regulations

    ‘Third country’ refers to any country outside the European Union, such as Switzerland, the UK, Norway, China, the USA, or Canada.

    • The €22 exemption limit for imports will no longer apply. Any goods imported into the Member States of the European Union will be subject to VAT from July 1, 2021. An exemption limit or allowance does not apply
    • In any case, there is an obligation to submit a customs declaration. Exemptions from the customs declaration do not apply.
    • A new (optional) Import-One-Stop-Shop (IOSS) has been introduced for distance sales of goods imported from a third-country or territory (excluding goods subject to excise tax) with a real value of up to €150


About the IOSS

  • Participation in the IOSS is a matter of choice and is not mandatory
  • This is limited to imports with a real value of up to €150
  • Participation in the IOSS is only possible uniformly for all EU Member States and all distance sales
  • The IOSS enables sellers or agents acting on their behalf to import goods covered by this special scheme into the EU with a VAT return statement to a tax authority in one single EU Member State, e.g. the Federal Central Tax Office in Germany, and to make the resulting VAT payments for all EU countries to this central authority
  • Registration for the IOSS has been open since April 1, 2021
  • The IOSS tax return statement must be filed every month
  • Imports under the auspices of the IOSS are exempt from import VAT. The seller is required to calculate the amount of VAT due and charge it to the customer in his shop’s checkout and report and pay this amount to the central office in the IOSS declaration

How the IOSS works

210426 Grafik IOSS2
210426 Grafik IOSS2


Example: Hansen, a manufacturer, based in the non-EU country of Norway, sells sweaters to private buyers in the EU. Starting in 2022, Hansen will deliver sweaters from its central warehouse in Oslo to private buyers in Germany (without using an online trading platform). The value of each item is less than €150 (including transport costs).

Hansen registers these imports exclusively in Germany. The company participates in the IOSS in Germany and has registered with the Federal Central Tax Office in Saarlouis. For VAT purposes, the place of supply to private buyers is, in each case, Germany, and German VAT is incurred on the sales of goods. This applies regardless of whether the threshold of €10,000 is exceeded. The import of these goods is exempt from import VAT. Hansen collects the amount of VAT due from the customer via the shop’s checkout along with the net purchase price. The company reports this VAT in the IOSS and pays the accrued amount to the Federal Central Tax Office in Germany.

In forthcoming articles in our series, we will explain which taxation procedures apply if the IOSS is not used and what special features arise for sales via marketplaces and electronic interfaces.


Anita Richter
Anita is a graduated economist and German syndic tax advisor. She started her tax career at KPMG where she spent 5 years in corporate tax advisory and M&A tax projects before moving to Springer Nature Group. During a period of 8 years she was with Springer Nature Group. she headed the global Indirect Tax function and successfully designed and implemented a digital transformation and automation strategy of global indirect tax related processes and business flows.

At eClear AG, Anita is responsible for business development and for innovative tax technology solutions. She is product owner of eClear`s full service solution “ClearVAT”.
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