Coronavirus response: Commission decides to extend customs and VAT waiver for imports of medical and protective equipment needed to fight the pandemic

The Commission decided yesterday to extend the temporary waiver of customs duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) on imports from non-EU countries of medical devices and protective equipment used in the fight against COVID-19. Yesterday’s decision prolongs the customs duties and VAT relief available under the already existing exemption, which had been due to expire at the end of this month, until 31 December 2021. The prolongation takes into consideration the challenges that Member States still face in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that imports of these goods remain significant. The measure will continue to support Member States financially in getting equipment such as masks or ventilators to the medical staff and patients that need them most. More information on the decision can be found here. The exemption forms part of the Commission’s response to COVID-19 in the area of taxation and customs. Yesterday’s decision follows a Commission proposal last week to exempt from VAT goods and services made available by the European Commission, EU bodies and agencies to Member States and citizens during times of crises such as public health emergencies. In December 2020, the Council also agreed on new measures, based on a Commission proposal, allowing for the temporary application of a zero VAT rate to COVID-19 vaccines and either reduced or zero VAT rates to COVID-19 testing kits sold within the EU, if Member States so choose.