Belgium is an open economy located in the heart of Europe. Because of its relatively small size, the country has to import a wide range of goods. Goods that are imported into Belgium may be liable to four kinds of import charges: excise duties, customs duties, agricultural levies and value-added tax, or VAT. In some circumstances, imported goods can be liable to countervailing (to counter the effects of subsidies) and anti-dumping duties.
Excise duties are levied on particular goods that are released for consumption in Belgium. So-called "community excise" products include tobacco products, alcoholic drinks, perfumes and energy products. In addition, "national excise" products in Belgium include coffee and other nonalcoholic beverages.
Customs duties in Belgium are, generally, levied on the basis of an ad valorem rate (percentage of the value), which is applied to the transaction value (measured in euros) of the imported goods, and includes the cost of the goods, freight charges and insurance. Still, some articles are dutiable at a specific rate (so much per liter, kilo, piece, etc.) and others at a compound rate (the combination of both ad valorem and specific rates).
Unprocessed agricultural products (e.g., wheat, potatoes) imported from outside the European Union, or EU, are subject to import duties. Processed products are liable to additional duties. Particular customs import procedures apply under the EU Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP.
Value-added tax is payable on goods imported into Belgium from countries outside the EU. VAT on imported products is charged on the basis of the goods' value, including customs duty and other import charges that are to be paid on the goods. In addition, acquisition VAT is due on the goods supplied to Belgium from other EU countries.