For many retailers, choosing a 3PL provider is an important step in optimising your e-commerce supply chain. Once your goods are strategically warehoused in a fulfilment centre, your 3PL provider should be able to manage efficient and timely delivery of your products to your customers.
But first, you need to get them there. When you’re importing goods into the EU, you will need to account for import VAT and duties and manage the bureaucracy of clearing customs.
That much is a given. However, not all imports are equal. With effective planning, you can greatly improve the efficiency and affordability of the importation process.
Optimising import VAT
As an importer, reclaiming your import VAT should be a priority. That sounds obvious in theory, yet it often gets overlooked in practice. It’s a considerable missed opportunity to reduce your import costs.
However, importers can sometimes secure a greater cash flow benefit by not simply reclaiming VAT, but actually deferring import VAT. Using mechanisms such as Article 23 in the Netherlands or The UK’s Postponed VAT Accounting you can account for import VAT on your VAT return. The upshot is that you can effectively avoid making an import VAT payment. Note, though, that taking advantage of deferments will require local VAT registration.
The ideal port of entry
In the section above, we mentioned regulations such as Article 23, which allows for VAT on imports into the Netherlands to be deferred. Now you might quite reasonably ask what Dutch VAT regulations have to do with your business if your 3PL warehouse is located in France or Poland or Germany.
However, it’s important to recognise the distinction between the point of entry into the EU and the location in which your goods will ultimately be warehoused.
The country through which you import into the EU will greatly affect the ultimate efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your supply chain. It’s important to choose a location with excellent infrastructure, an accommodating regulatory environment and good access to the major EU markets. (That’s why many importers favour the Netherlands as their ‘fast track to the EU’.)
Putting the pieces together
Clearing customs is only one piece of the importation puzzle. Coordinating the movement of your goods is equally important. In order to avoid costly delays, it’s imperative that you time the movement of goods precisely. Ideally, your consignment will arrive at the port of entry.
Then it will pass through customs efficiently and immediately be despatched to your 3PL fulfilment centre.
In other words, the various stages of import logistics are interconnected. Optimally, a single import provider will coordinate the process holistically.
An integrated import solution
Get in touch with Vatglobal’s specialist VAT compliance team to optimise your import VAT. We’ll also ensure 100% compliance everywhere you have a VAT obligation. With vship, Vatglobal provides a complete logistics and supply chain solution that makes importing into Europe fast, seamless and more affordable.