Shopping online: What are the taxes and customs fees?

Import duties when shopping online
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A common question that circles in the expat community in Croatia often is “How much will I be charged in taxes if I buy something online from abroad”?

We dug into this topic and found ourselves lost in the heart of a bureaucratic hornet’s nest. There are a lot of variables that play a role in how much you are charged in duties and taxes (or not charged) when buying goods from abroad.

If you’re making a purchase from within the EU, the answer is simple. Any other scenario has a more complex answer.

In this post, we take a deep dive into:

What is Carina?

Carina is the customs administration that operates under the Ministry of Finance in Croatia, which regulates customs, excise, tax and other duties. Read more here.

Goods that are exempt from import duties (customs and taxes)

Customs procedure in Croatian postal traffic is carried out for goods that don’t have a status of roba Zajednice (community goods), i.e. EU community goods.

Goods that have a “community goods” status are:

  1. Goods wholly obtained within the EU
  2. Goods imported from outside of the EU that have been released for free circulation within the EU
  3. Goods obtained or produced within the EU from the previously mentioned goods (under 1 and 2)

If you have any products online that belong to one of the mentioned groups, you will be exempt from paying uvozna davanja (import duties), which includes carine (customs) and porezi (taxes).

Goods that are not exempt from import duties (customs and taxes)

If you purchased goods that are not qualified as “community goods” outlined in the previous section, then you must pay import duties called “uvozna davanja”.

Import duties charged on all applicable goods

  • Carina (customs)
    • Calculated according to the rate prescribed by the customs tariffs of the EU and the tariff number in which goods are classified.
  • PDV – Porez na dodanu vrijednost (Value added tax)
    • PDV is calculated on the total value of goods (AFTER customs and special taxes are calculated) according to rates prescribed for a particular type of goods.
    • PDV is calculated according to the PDV categories and their payment rates

The basis for the calculation of customs and PDV costs is the value of the goods increased by the associated costs, i.e. costs of transport from the third world countries (non-EU member states).

So, if you buy goods outside the EU, you must pay for customs and PDV on the shipment. Costs depend on the value of the shipment.

Import duties charged on certain applicable goods

  • Poseban porez ili trošarina (special taxes or excise duty)
    • It is calculated only for some goods according to Zakon o trošarinama (Law on excise duties) or other laws on special taxes for a particular type of goods such as
      • Alcohol – trošarina for alcohol is defined here
      • Tobacco – trošarina for tobacco is defined here
      • Energy – trošarina for energy is defined here
  • Ležarina
    • Charged on goods heavier than 0,5 kilograms that have been held at Carina (customs) for more than 3 days. Cost is 1,10 kuna for every additional day needed for the processing of goods.

If you want to learn more about Croatian taxation system, take a look at this article.

Purchases exempt from fees, based on type and cost

Some shipments are exempt from paying both customs and PDV, and some are exempt from paying only customs.

Shipments that are exempt from paying customs and PDV

  • Shipments from EU member states of value up to 22 EUR in kuna equivalent (~160 kuna) except for
    • Alcoholic products
    • Perfumes and eau de toilette
    • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Non-commercial shipments of value up to 45 EUR in kuna equivalent (personal shipments sent from person to person). Exemption is limited by quantity for
    • Alcoholic products
      • 1 liter of distilled and alcoholic beverages with more than 22% of alcohol and undenatured ethyl alcohol with 80% of alcohol or higher
      • 1 liter or a proportional combination of distilled and alcoholic beverages, and aperitifs based on wine or alcohol, tafia, sake or similar beverages with up to 22% of alcohol, sparkling and dessert wines
      • 2 liters of still wines
    • Perfumes
      • 50 grams
    • Eau de toilette
      • 0,25 liters
    • Tobacco and tobacco products
      • 50 cigarettes
      • 25 cigarillos
      • 10 cigars
      • 50 grams of tobacco
      • a proportional combination of these products

Shipments that are exempt from paying customs

  • All shipments (both commercial and personal) of value up to 150 EUR in kuna equivalent except for
    • Alcoholic products
    • Perfumes and eau de toilette
    • Tobacco and tobacco products

For other shipments of negligible value that are exempt from paying customs, PDV is calculated if the value is higher than 160 kuna. If the value is lower than 160 kuna, PDV isn’t calculated for shipments from EU member states. For shipments of value lower than 160 from non-EU member states, PDV is calculated.

Customs and PDV must be paid for shipments of value higher than 150 EUR in kuna equivalent.

How the import duties are calculated

So, we’ve already mentioned that customs duty is calculated according to the rate prescribed by the customs tariffs of the EU and the tariff number in which goods are classified.

Customs duty is calculated on the determined customs value of the goods called “carinska vrijednost robe” or “carinska osnovica”.

Customs value of the goods includes:

  • Value of the goods (its purchase price)
  • Transport costs from the non-EU member state to EU
    • Commission and brokerage fees
    • Packaging costs
    • Transport costs to the port or place of entry to the EU
    • Boarding, disembarking and handling costs associated with the transport to EU
    • Insurance costs until entering the EU territory

Once the customs value is determined, customs and special taxes called or excise duty are added on top, if applicable. On this amount, PDV is calculated according to the above prescribed rates.

To estimate the customs cost, you can use the Carina calculator app available on Android.

Declaration process

All arriving shipments must go through the process called “carinska deklaracija” (customs declaration). Carinska deklaracija is a process and a document used for implementing customs procedures, carried out by Carina. The declaration contains all the data needed for the determination of customs duties.

The declaration includes this information:

  • Name and code of the customs office
  • Sender, recipient and declaring person
  • Transport data
  • Data on foreign trade business
    • Value of the goods
    • Currency
    • Country of origin, etc.
  • Customs procedure code
  • Data on the goods according to tariff items
    • Quantity in a unit of measurement
    • Calculation of customs duties, etc.

The declaration process can vary depending on which shipping company is used to send the package. For example, the declaration procedure is different for Hrvatska pošta than it is for Overseas Express or DHL.

Hrvatska pošta – Declaration process

#1 – Oral calculation

Shipments delivered via Hrvatska pošta whose value isn’t higher than 1.000 EUR go through the process called “usmena deklaracija”. The competent customs office calculates the amount of customs duties on the Obrazac za obračun uvoznih davanja u putničkom i poštanskom prometu (Form for calculation of import duties in passenger and postal traffic).

This process is done without contacting the recipient of the shipment. Hrvatska pošta delivers the shipment to the recipient together with the completed form. The postman will request payment upon delivery.

If the recipient disagrees with the calculation of total costs, they can return the shipment and request for the regular customs procedure via the delivery company.

#2 – Electronic declaration

The second process is called “uvozna carinska deklaracija” or “elektronska deklaracija” (electronic declaration).

Electronic declaration is done for:

    • Commercial shipments whose value is higher than 1.000 EUR
    • Commercial shipments that are parts of successive shipments of similar procedures
    • Shipments that are subjects of certain restrictions, prohibitions or other special import formalities

You can read more about the customs declaration process fo Hrvatska pošta here and here.

Other Companies – Declaration

Other delivery companies submit an electronic declaration regardless of the value of the shipment. The process is initiated by the delivery company and it includes costs of their services as well.

To carry out this procedure, proof of the value of the goods is needed. This can be proved with an invoice, proof of payment, an online order or a print of the conclusion of the tender. The delivery company will ask you to deliver the documentation via email if needed.

  • View DHL’s customs services and support here.
  • View Overseas’ customs services here and here.

More information about the customs procedure in postal traffic is available here.


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