Exemption of transport of goods from VAT in connection with imports

Recent case law of the CJEU has considered what evidence a transport company must provide to justify its claim for VAT exemption for import-related services.

The judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU C-461/21 - Cartrans Preda dealt, among other things, with the application of the VAT exemption for transport between the Netherlands and Romania. In particular, the transport in question took place between the place where the goods entered the Union (Rotterdam) and the first destination in the territory of the Member State of importation (Cluj).

The Romanian company Cartrans argued that the cost of transport to the destination was compulsorily included by the customs authorities in the customs value of the goods on their entry into the territory of the Union and therefore in the VAT base for the imported goods, since the CMR consignment note and the transit summary declaration in which it was assigned an MRN number indicated that the consignee of those goods was in Cluj.

The court pointed out that the mere registration of an import transaction and the assignment of an MRN is not sufficient to justify a claim for VAT exemption.

On the other hand, the court reiterated that the tax authorities must take other means of evidence (e.g. CMR consignment note, transit accompanying document, tax document, transport contract) into account when assessing the existence of a claim for VAT exemption for transport services connected with the import of goods, unless the tax authorities have specific grounds for doubting their authenticity or credibility.

In view of this judgment, it can be stated that Section 69(3) of the VAT Act is in line with the conclusions of the CJEU. According to this provision, the taxpayer is obliged to prove the VAT exemption when carrying out transport when importing goods or exporting goods:

  • the shipping document;
  • a contract for the carriage of goods; or
  • by other means of evidence.