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Importing and Exporting in Spain

Importing and Exporting in Spain

Updated on Tuesday 04th December 2018

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Spain has a developed trade sector that counts for more than a half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the import/export field is a very important part of the economy. The top export products are: cars and vehicle parts, refined petroleum, medicaments, delivery trucks, agricultural products and, on the top of the imported goods, Spain has the following: crude and refined petroleum, petroleum gas, vehicle parts, iron and steel. 
 
Companies operating in the import/export sector are required to obtain a set of permits, depending on their specific activities, and our team of lawyers in Spain can offer in-depth advice on the procedures for obtaining such documents. Our lawyers can assist investors with the import-export regulations and may advise them how to enter the trading sector in Spain.  
 

What are the main import-export regulations in Spain? 

 
As a member of the European Union (EU), Spain applies the directives on trading matters imposed at the level of the Community. Most of the trading regulations available in Spain and in the EU aim at regulating the manner in which the import/export of goods is concluded at the level of each customs authority. Our team of Spanish lawyers can provide in-depth legal assistance on the country’s national legislation, but investors should also know the following: 
 
  • Spain is part of the Electronic Customs Initiative, which is created in order to simplify and modernize the trading procedures at the level of the EU member states;
  • one of the regulations which aims at developing computerized trading procedures is the Security and Safety Amendment to the Customs Code;
  • the procedures on using electronic customs documents are prescribed under the Electronic Customs Decision;
  • the main authority which regulates customs procedures in Spain is the Tax Authority (Agencia Tributaria)

 

What are the main customs procedures in Spain? 

 
Investors who are considering importing to Spain various goods and products need to provide a set of legal documents, which attest the quality of the products, their country of origin and numerous others. When importing in Spain, companies must provide a pro-forma invoice, a brief declaration concerning the products and the single administrative document (SAD)
 
This type of document can be obtained from the Chambers of Commerce. Companies that import goods in Spain should know that the country applies import limitations for certain categories of products, such as weapons and other defense equipment, farm products and iron. In order to safely import products in the country (depending on their nature), the import company should provide specific licenses; if such documents are not present, the import of products will not be allowed. 
 

What are the main customs rates in Spain? 

 
When trading products from a country to another, several taxes will be applied. One of the taxes that are imposed in this case is the customs duty, which is applied in specific conditions (depending on the tax residency of the company, as well as the types of products that are imported into the country). Our team of lawyers in Spain can provide in-depth information on the main taxes that are applied to import-export activities
 
One of the important matters concerning the customs duty is that the tax is not applicable in the case of companies located in the European Economic Area (EEA). Products arriving from outside the EU and the EEA are imposed with the customs duty and, as mentioned earlier, the tax rates can vary
 
In the case of industrial products, the customs duty is imposed at a rate of 4.2%, while in the case of imports of processed food or textiles, the tax rate can increase up to 17.3%. However, companies should be aware of the fact that the tax rates can be lowered in the situation in which they are tax residents of a country with which Spain has signed a trade agreement
 

Are there any limitations of Spanish exports? 

 
Yes, businessmen operating a company in Spain that concludes export activities should know that the country imposes certain limitations for special categories of products. Any type of war equipment is banned from export, which also applies to cultural goods or flora and fauna included in the list of endangered species. 
 

What are the main means of transportation in Spain? 

 
One of the main means to transport goods from and in Spain is handled by sea transportation (which accounts for approximately 20% of the transport sector). Air freight is another attractive and fast way to trade goods and some of the most developed regions for this type of transportation are represented by Barcelona and Madrid
 
Companies may also transport trading goods by inland roads and the least preferred means of transportation is through rail traffic, which is generally used for the transportation of industrial goods such as iron, steel, coal and mining products. Our team of Spanish lawyers can provide in-depth information on the regulations that must be completed for the transportation of goods in Spain
 

Top import/export destinations for Spain 

 
The top export destinations for Spanish businessmen are: France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and United Kingdom, while countries such as Germany, France, China, Italy and the Netherlands arepresent the top import countries. Nearly 70% of the Spanish export goods and products that were traded in 2016 were sold on other European markets, while 11.2% were traded on the Asian markets. 
 
The financial crisis experienced throughout the European Union affected the Spanish exports as well and they decreased from $285 billion in 2008 to $215.7 billion in 2009, while the imports followed the same trend, decreasing from $415.5 billion in 2008 to $293.2 billion in 2009.
 
The most important import and export partners of Spain are countries from EU and the Spanish authorities approved regulations related to trade that are similar to those in the EU. However, the value of the trading activities in Spain increased in the last years.
 
For example, in 2016, the value of the imports increased by 1,4% compared to 2015. Also, in 2016, the export activities increased by 29% compared to 2009, when the country was affected by the economic crisis. In 2016, the value of the Spanish exports was situated at $287.8 billion, which represented an increase of 3.5% compared with the previous year. 
 
Our team of Spanish lawyers can offer more details on the regulations concerning trading activities in Spain. It is important to know that the most imported products in Spain are represented by the following types of goods: fuel (19%), food (7%), machinery (6%) and motor cars (4%).
 
Investors should know that the trading activities in Spain expanded at the level of 2017, as the level of exports increased by 8.9% compared to the previous year, while the level of imports increased by 10.5%. Spain is one of the main countries for trading activities, being the world’s 15th main exporter.
 
More details on the import/export activities in Spain are available below:
 

 

How can our Spanish lawyers assist in import-export matters?

 

If you are interested in opening a company in Spain dealing with import/export activities, you may address to one of our Spanish attorneys, who will help you register it and begin your economic activity. A foreign investor who has already set up a company and wants to extend his/her activity in other countries, like Spain, will discover important opportunities, but it is recommended to know information on the local laws related to the trading sector before starting your expansion and our law firm in Spain may help you with in-depth advice and legal assistance.

At the same time, it is recommended to study the characteristics of the local markets and the customers’ needs. If you choose to import goods from another EU country, like Spain, the customs entry is not required because the EU countries have a special import legislation, but there are certain restrictions. For more details on the rules for importing/exporting activities in this country, you may contact our law firm in Spain.