Annex B: Free Zones

Updated 6 December 2016

1. Free Zones

1.1 Designation

For each Free Zone, the area covered and the defined entry and exit points shall be determined by the Member State. The perimeter and the entry and exit points must be under customs supervision. Member State must communicate to the commission details of the Free Zones in operation.

All Free Zones shall be enclosed. Persons, goods and means of transport entering or leaving Free Zones may be subject to customs controls.

Free zones are not subject to the authorisation referred to in Article 211 Union Customs Code (UCC). A guarantee is not compulsory for Free Zones.

Placement of goods under free zones do not require the lodgement of a customs declaration (Article 158(1) UCC) but records have to be kept. The movement procedure does not apply (Article 219 UCC).

Union Customs Code (UCC) Article Delegated Act (DA) Article Implementing Act (IA) Article

1.2 Building and activities in Free Zones

The construction of any building in a Free Zones must be prior approved by the customs authorities.

Any industrial, commercial or service activity may be permitted in a Free Zone. The carrying on of such activities shall be subject to advanced notification to the customs authorities. The customs authorities may impose prohibitions or restrictions on the activities having regard to the nature of the goods, the requirements of customs supervision or security or safety requirements.

UCC article DA article IA article

1.3 Presentation of goods and their placing under the procedure

Goods brought into a Free Zone shall be presented to customs and undergo the prescribed customs formalities when:

  • they are brought into the Free Zone directly from outside the territory of the Union
  • they have been placed under a customs procedure which is ended or discharged when placed under the Free Zone procedure
  • they are placed under the Free Zone procedure in order to benefit from a decision granting repayment or remission of Import Duty
  • legislation other than customs legislation provides for such formalities

Any other goods brought into a Free Zone do not need to be presented to customs. Goods placed in a Free Zone are deemed to be under the Free Zone procedure at the moment of their entry into a Free Zone, unless they have been placed under another procedure or when the transit procedure is ended, unless they are placed under a subsequent customs procedure.

UCC article DA article IA article

1.4 Union goods in a Free Zone

Union goods may be entered, stored, moved, used, processed or consumed in a Free Zone. These goods are not under the Free Zone procedure.

Upon application the customs authorities shall establish the customs status as Union goods when they enter a Free Zone, when they have undergone processing operations within a Free Zone or have been released to free circulation in a Free Zone.

UCC article DA article IA article

1.5 Non Union goods in a Free Zone

Non-Union goods may be released for free circulation or entered to the Inward Processing (IP), Temporary Admission (TA) or end use procedure whilst in the Free Zone. In these cases, the goods are not under the Free Zone procedure.

Without prejudice to the provisions on stores or victualling supplies goods may be used or consumed whilst not incurring import duties or measures laid down concerning common agricultural or commercial policies if released to free circulation or TA. No customs declaration for the release to free circulation or TA is required. A declaration shall only be required if the goods are subject to a tariff quota or ceiling.

UCC article DA article IA article

1.6 Taking goods out of a Free Zone

Goods in a Free Zone may be exported or re-exported from a Free Zone. Goods moved to other parts of the customs territory are subject to normal arrival of goods procedures.

UCC article DA article IA article

1.7 Customs Status

Goods removed from a Free Zone to another part of the Union or placed under a customs procedure are deemed non-union goods until their customs status as Union goods has been proven.

For the purposes of applying Export Duty and export licences under the common agricultural or commercial policy measures the goods shall be regarded Union goods unless it is established that they do not have that customs status.

Equivalent goods are Union goods which are stored instead of non-Union goods which have been entered in Free Zone. This may mean that movement of non-Union goods in Free Zones is not needed. However change of customs status is not provided for in Article 269 IA.

UCC article DA article IA article