Italian Customs Authorities – Guidelines to manage COVID-19 emergency

Prepared by Francesco Pizzo e Lorenzo Ontano

On March 19, 2020, the Italian Customs Authorities (hereinafter “Customs Authorities”) provided operative instructions related to the following:

  1. export of personal protective equipment;
  2. import of goods to be used in order to face the COVID-19 emergency, under relief from customs duties and VAT.

We will summarize below the clarifications released by the Customs Authorities about the two above-mentioned cases.

With reference to the first point, the Customs Authorities list the tariff codes (i.e. the Combined Nomenclature codes) for the personal protective equipment as, for example, visors, masks, gloves, etc. whose export is subject, from March 15, 2020, to a specific authorization, as provided by EU Reg. 2020/402. The above-mentioned authorization is released by the Office X of the DG for the international trade Policy.

With reference to the drafting of the export customs declaration, the Customs Authorities specify that, in the box 44 of the SAD, it should be reported the code Co86, related to the goods for which the EU Reg. 2020/402 should be applied.

As to the second point, the Customs Authorities clarified that, in the light of the art. 57 of the EU Reg. 1186/2009, instruments and apparatus intended for medical research, establishing medical diagnoses or carrying out medical treatments which are donated either by a charitable or philanthropic organization or by a private individual to health authorities, hospital departments or medical research institutions, approved by the competent authorities of the Member States are admitted free of import duties. This is applicable also in case the above-mentioned instruments and apparatus are purchased directly by health authorities, hospitals or medical research institutions entirely with funds donated by a charitable or philanthropic organization or with voluntary contributions, provided that:

  • the donation of the instruments or apparatus does not conceal any commercial intent from the donor;
  • the donor is in no way connected with the manufacturer of the instruments or apparatus for which the relief is requested.

Moreover, the Customs Authorities clarify that, in this case, the VAT, normally due for the importations, could not be charged if the goods have been donated by public entities or recognized organization or foundations with the sole purposes of assistance, charitable, education, study and research activities or if the goods have been donated in favor of populations affected by natural disasters or catastrophes.  

Moreover, all the other importations of goods, carried out by State entities or with charitable or philanthropic purposes, necessary to face the current emergency situation, could be performed under customs duties and VAT relief, provided these subjects are authorized by the Customs Authorities, as provided by the special customs and VAT regime for the imports of goods in favor of disaster’ victims.

However, considering that the application of the aforementioned relief is subject to the issuance of a specific EU Commission Decision, the Entity authorized by the Customs Authorities could carry out the importation in suspension of customs duties payment, producing a letter of commitment to pay the taxes that may be due if the competent Authorities will not release the aforementioned Decision.

In the same way, prior authorization of the Customs Authorities, also the importation of goods, carried out by authorities or entities, destinated to face the COVID19 emergency, are exempted from customs duties and VAT, if qualified as donations received in the context of international relations between public authorities or by entities that perform functions of public interest.

From a practical point of view, in the customs bills of import, in the box 37, after the code 40, indicating the definitive importation, the following codes will be reported: C17, C26 and C28, as provided by the EU Reg. 2016/341. Moreover, in order to speed up the customs clearance procedures, it will be possible to give evidence of the specific destination of the goods, reporting in the box 22 of the customs bills the additional code 17YY. Using this code, the operator will attest that he intends to carry out “importation of medical instruments and appliances, medical devices and personal protective equipment, without commercial intent, destined, due to the epidemiological emergency, to health entities, hospital services and medical research institutes, donated or purchased by the State, the Regions or the Entities of the National Health Service”.

Let’s Talk

For a deeper discussion please contact:

Francesco Pizzo

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti


Lorenzo Ontano

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti

Senior Manager