Intrastat: What is it exactly and why is it important to comply to it?

I can't help but notice that many people, often working within large companies, do not know what Intrastat is. It is a relatively unknown field, even though it is really important for companies to comply with Intrastat obligations. In this blog I will explain to you what an Intrastat declaration is, when you have to file Intrastat declarations and why it is important that you do this on a monthly basis. As a company, it is important that you comply to law and regulations, right?

What is Intrastat precisely?

Information on all intra-community movements of goods that have taken place between the Member States of the European Union, is collected on a monthly basis. The information is passed on by the local authorities to Eurostat (a Directorate General of the EU) so that they can provide statistical data on this movement of goods. Which authority collects the data from each EU member country varies, for example by Customs or the national statistical authority. In the Netherlands, for example, this data is collected by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). In our Intrastat white paper you can see the authority/agency collecting this data for each Member State.

When do you have the obligation to submit Intrastat declarations?

Companies subject to VAT and whom are shipping goods between EU member states may be required to submit Intrastat declarations. But it is not automatically the case that you are obliged when you ship occasionally for instance. There are different conditions for each Member State that decide if you are required to file Intrastat returns. Most EU countries have set certain thresholds for goods entering the country (arrivals) and goods leaving the country to other EU member states (dispatches).

For instance: it could happen that in one country you already have the obligation at an annual invoice value of 700 euros, and in another country only if it exceeds 1 million euros.

Some countries, including the Netherlands, do not have threshold values (anymore). Companies can get a monthly reporting obligation for Intrastat when they are included in the CBS sample.

If you want to know what the threshold values for each EU member state are for 2023, you can download our whitepaper. We have collected all the data so you could save yourself lots of time.

What is exactly declared in an Intrastat declaration?

The required fields that must be included in an Intrastat declaration differ slightly per country. There are also additional requirements for intra-Community deliveries (sending goods) compared to intra-Community acquisitions (receiving goods). For the receipt of goods (arrivals), at least the following characteristics of a transaction must be declared in the declaration for all Member States:

  • Ship from country
  • Nature of transaction
  • Mode of transport
  • HS code/commodity code
  • Invoice value
  • Net weight/quantity

Depending on the Member State, there are additional fields that are mandatory to indicate. For instance the region of dispatch/arrival, the statistical value, the country of origin or the Incoterm.

When sending goods (dispatches) the same properties of a transaction are mandatory as for receiving goods (arrivals), with 2 additional fields on top of this:

  • Country of origin
  • VAT number of the trading partner

Why is it important to comply to the Intrastat obligations?

What are the consequences if you have a monthly Intrastat obligation, but you do not submit it on time or not at all? This depends on the country where you do not comply with the obligation. Some countries impose (high) fines for non-compliance with this obligation or for submitting the return after the set deadline date. The authorities also expect you to be able to answer questions about the content of the declarations and to provide proof that the content is correct. For example, sending a sales invoice stating the invoice value and/or the weight of the transaction.

Another important reason to have your Intrastat in order is that Intrastat can act as a trigger for the Tax and Customs Administration to scrutinize your VAT returns. The values that you submit in Intrastat declarations are compared with the values that are submitted in your VAT declarations. When these values do not match or when the Intrastat declaration is missing, your company can be marked with a red flag. This increases the chance of VAT audits, and as a company you naturally want to avoid this. Luckily Pincvision is a partner that take away all these hassle for you. Would you like to know what Pincvision can do for you? We are happy to meet up and find out how we can support you.

31 Jul 2023 at 9:50 am
5 min
Published by:
Lisa Terberg-Widdershoven
Intrastat Compliance Specialist
Read more about Intrastat
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