The EU customs declaration is used by the declaring party to specify which customs procedure a product should undergo. The declaration can be made by any person in a position to present the responsible customs office with a product (or have a product presented on their behalf) in accordance with the regulations laid out for this purpose. The same person should also be able to provide any documentation required for the customs procedure concerned. The official sponsor of the customs procedure is the person on whose account the customs declaration is being made, or the party to whom the rights and obligations of this person have been assigned in connection with the customs procedure.

In principle, the party making the declaration must be based in the EU (although Swiss companies can also make declarations). The written and signed customs declaration should always be submitted on the official form provided for this purpose (generally the Single Administrative Document), which contains all the details required for the relevant procedure.

Verbal declarations are permitted for, amongst other things, non-commercial imported products in the form of travel luggage, small items, or items sent by individuals. They are also permissible, subject to certain conditions, when importing products for commercial purposes if the total value is EUR 1000 or less, and for certain products which are not subject to duty.

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