Last month, the EU granted Value Added Tax (VAT) and import tariff relief for essential goods if those goods are for free distribution and they are imported by state organizations or public bodies or authorized organizations.

Relief has been granted for the period 30 January through 31 July 2020. Duties and VAT can be claimed back for this period via the refund procedure (an application to be filed with the national customs authority). The period of duty and VAT relief can be extended beyond July 31 2020.

The EU adopted an indicative, non-exhaustive list of essential goods which covers medical supplies needed in the health sector to treat COVID-19 (ranging from monitors, tubes, to gloves and hand washing soap). EU Member States are allowed to extend the list. For example, the non-exhaustive list adopted by Belgium includes the following:

  • Laparoscopic scissors, Laryngoscopes, Aspiration Probes and Suction Pumps, RNA extractors;
  • Soaps, disinfectants and sterilizing agents (e.g. hydroalcoholic gel);
  • CEC ECMO (consumables for extracorporeal oxygenation), Respirators, Lung ventilators for intensive therapy, Oronasal masks, and Suction systems;
  • Laboratory equipment (e.g. Sterile test tubes);
  • Thermometers;
  • Protective corrective eyewear and contact lenses, Safety glasses;
  • Mouth and nose protectors, textile and surgical masks, FFP2 and FFP3 masks;
  • Face shields, Protective clothing and masks, Gloves;
  • Examination kits / instruments and apparatus used in the diagnostic tests of COVID 19, as well as sampling kits;
  • Other medical supplies or equipment (e.g. tomographs, electrocardiographs, portable ultrasound systems, centralized monitoring for intensive therapy, fixed and portable multi-parameter monitors, nursing carts, mobile chairs and beds, equipment for setting up field hospitals);
  • Medical consumables (e.g. cotton swabs, compresses, bandages, surgical drapes, endotracheal tubes, intubation kits, vascular access kit, syringes with or without needles, catheters);
  • Infusion pumps for medicines, Peristaltic pumps for enteral nutrition;
  • Humidifiers;
  • Shoes and shoe covers;
  • Dispensers for wall mounting for disinfectants; and
  • Medicinal products (Hydrogen peroxide, Paracetamol, Hydrochloroquine, Lopinavir/Ritonavir, Remdesivir, and Tocilizumab).