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Questions related to Imports and Exports

FAQs related to Imports and Exports.

 The information provided in the answers should serve only as guidance and does not have any legal force

Trade with third countries and fellow EU member states may be subject to licensing, depending on the type of goods and the destination. The sections hereunder outline the different licences provided for by the Trade-related Services and Projects Directorate. For full information refer to the Commerce Department’s website.

  1. Import Licences

The importation of certain goods is subject to an authorisation or import licence issued by the Trade Services Directorate – Commerce Department, in accordance with the Importation Control Regulations – Legal Notice 242 of 2004. The goods subject to import licensing are listed in the Schedules to this regulation.

The First Schedule lists those items which require an authorisation when transferred into Malta from a Member States of the European Union.

The Second Schedule lists goods which are subject to an import licence when imported from any country outside the European Union.

WHICH GOODS REQUIRE AN IMPORT LICENCE?  

Only those items listed in the Schedules to the Importation Control Regulations (LN 242 of 2004), require an import licence. The lists include live animals, meat and fish products, dairy products, vegetables and fruit, beverages, chemicals and chemical preparations, pharmaceuticals, detergents, pyrotechnics and weapons amongst others. The full list of goods  (classified by HS Code) subject to import licensing can be found on the Commerce Department website.

If assistance is required to determine whether an import is subject to licensing, contact the Import/Export Unit on 21.226.688 or commerce@gov.mt. When lodging your enquiry, see that you provide a description of the good together with the related HS Code, as well as the country from which the goods are being exported to Malta. Otherwise it will not be possible to determine whether a licence is applicable.

WHAT INFORMATION MUST BE SUBMITTED WHEN APPLYING FOR AN IMPORT LICENCE?  

The information required in the application form has to be provided in full. This includes details of the importer and of his/her representative, the country of origin, the exporting country, the description of the item being imported, the quantity of the item and the H.S. Code. A more detailed explanation of how the application must be compiled can be found below and in the Guidelines Section in the Commerce Department website.

Moreover, for certain goods endorsement by other entities /authorities must be secured prior to presenting the application to the Import/Export Unit.

When this is the case, the fully completed form must be presented to the Import/Export Unit only after that it has been stamped and signed by the endorsing authority. A list of authorities  and their contact details can be found in the Commerce Department website.

FROM WHERE CAN I GET AN IMPORT APPLICATION?

The application is an online form which should be filled in electronically, printed and presented for issuance to the  Commerce Department,  Import/Export Unit - Lascaris Bastions, Daħlet Ġnien is-Sultan, Valletta, VLT 1933.  Apart from the Commerce Department’s website, it can also be found in the servizz.gov.mt portal.

Endorsements from other entities, when required, are to be secured prior to presenting the form to the Import/Export Unit.

Ensure that the form is printed back to front. The import application should have four sheets (seven pages), comprising the Holder’s copy and the Issuing Authority’s copy.

WHAT IS AN HS CODE?

The Harmonized System (HS) is a tool for classifying goods. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as tariff nomenclature, is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products.

HOW CAN I GET THE HS CODE OF AN ITEM?

The Customs Department is the competent authority for the classification of the items by HS Codes. The relevant Customs office is the Binding Tariff Information Unit (BTIU) and it can be reached on 25.685.175/0 or btiu.customs@gov.mt. Otherwise, the supplier of the good should be able to provide it.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO APPLY FOR AN IMPORT PERMIT?

Filing of an application is free of charge. Similarly, the issuance of a licence.

HOW LONG IS AN IMPORT LICENCE VALID FOR?

An import licence is normally valid for 8 months from the date of issue. The expiry date is stamped on the licence.

CAN EXPIRED LICENCES BE RENEWED?

No, expired licenses cannot be renewed. A new application would have to be submitted.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A LICENCE FROM THE DAY OF SUBMISSION?

Assuming a complete and correct submission, a license normally only takes a few working days to be issued. However, there are a few exceptions, where inter-departmental consultation is carried out post submission. This may be a lengthy process and is not time bound. Inter-departmental review of applications is normally applied for HS Code 27.10 and several countries which are subject to sanctions considerations.

DO I NEED AN IMPORT LICENCE FOR EACH ITEM?

A separate application form must be completed for every different HS Code and for every different country of origin and country of consignment. There are no caps on the quantity of each application.

  1. export licences

The exportation to non-EU countries, of goods listed in the Schedule to Legal Notice 243 of 2004, is subject to authorisation or an export licence issued by the Commerce Department 

WHICH GOODS REQUIRE AN EXPORT LICENCE?

Only those items listed in the Schedule to the Export Control Regulations (Subsidiary Legislation 117.02), require an export licence and only if they are being sent to non-EU countries. These are: 

- Antiques and articles and objects of historical value
- Carts, cabs and landaus
- Malta stone and objects made therefrom 
- Rough diamonds of headings 7102.10, 7102.21 and 7102.31
- Petroleum products, the following – petrol, fuel oil, diesel, kerosene and liquidified gas.

WHAT INFORMATION MUST BE SUBMITTED WHEN APPLYING FOR AN EXPORT LICENCE?

The information required in the application form  has to be provided in full. This includes the name and contact details of the exporter and of the declarant/representative, the exporting ship or airline, the port or airport where the goods will be landed, the final destination of the goods, the description of the item being exported, the quantity and the H.S. Code. When the application is for a petroleum product the country of origin must also be specified. For certain goods endorsement by other entities/authorities must be secured on the backside of the same application form prior to presenting it to the Import/Export Unit. For a full explanation of what compiling the form entails, refer to the Guidelines section on the Commerce Department’s website.

The form must be signed by the exporter or the declarant/representative, who must tick the applicable box in section 4.

FROM WHERE CAN I GET AN EXPORT APPLICATION?

The application form should be filled in electronically and presented to the Commerce Department,  Import/Export Unit - Lascaris Bastions, Daħlet Ġnien is-Sultan, Valletta, VLT 1933.

Ensure that it is printed back to front. The export application should have five sheets (nine pages) including the Holder’s copy and the Issuing Authority’s copy.

WHAT IS AN HS CODE?

The Harmonized System (HS) is a tool for classifying goods. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as tariff nomenclature, is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products.

HOW CAN I GET THE HS CODE OF AN ITEM?

The Customs Department is the competent authority for the classification of items by HS Codes. The relevant Customs office is the Binding Tariff Information Unit (BTIU) and it can be reached on 25685175/0 or btiu.customs@gov.mt. Otherwise, the supplier of the good should be able to provide it.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO APPLY FOR AN EXPORT PERMIT?

Filing of an application is free of charge. Similarly, the issuance of a licence.

HOW LONG IS AN EXPORT LICENCE VALID FOR?

An export licence is valid for 1 month from the date of issue.

CAN EXPIRED LICENCES BE RENEWED?

No, expired licences cannot be renewed. A new application must be filed.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A LICENCE FROM THE DAY OF SUBMISSION?

Assuming a complete and correct submission, a licence normally only takes a few working days to be issued. However, there are a few exceptions, where inter-departmental consultation must be carried out post submission. This may be a lengthy process and is not time bound. Inter-departmental review is normally applied for applications concerning petroleum products and where the countries involved are subject to sanctions considerations. 

DO I NEED AN EXPORT LICENCE FOR EACH ITEM?

A separate application form must be completed for items which do not fall under the same description and HS heading (first four digits). Similarly, if any of the other information requested in the application differs.

  1. SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENTS FOR IMPORTS OF IRON, STEEL AND ALUMINIUM PRODUCTS

In May 2016, the EU applied ‘prior surveillance’ on the importation of steel and iron products. In April 2018, this was extended to aluminium products. Since then the customs clearance / free circulation of these goods on arriving in Malta or the EU is subject to the presentation of a Surveillance Document.  


WHEN DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT?  

You will need a surveillance document to import any:

The requirement applies to those goods arriving for customs clearance into Malta or the EU and whose net weight is over 2,500 kg or 5,000kg for products falling under HS heading 7318.

WHERE CAN I FIND A COPY OF ANNEX I AND A LIST OF THESE COMMODITY CODES?

For steel and iron products refer to Annex I of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1092.  For aluminium products refer to Annex I to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/640.

DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT IF MY GOODS ORIGINATE IN EUROPE?

No. You do not need a surveillance document to clear your goods if they were made in the European Union or in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. 

DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT IF MY GOODS FALL UNDER ONE COMMODITY CODE WITH A NET WEIGHT LESS THAN 2,500KG?

No. You do not need a surveillance document if your goods are covered by the same commodity code, originate from the same country and have a net weight of less than 2,500 kg or 5,000 kg for goods falling under HS heading 7318.

DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT IF I AM IMPORTING A RANGE OF GOODS OF ONE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN UNDER A NUMBER OF COMMODITY CODES AND WHOSE COMBINED WEIGHT IS OVER 2,500 KG?

You need a surveillance document only where the total weight of goods under an individual commodity code weighs 2,500 kg or more or 5,000 kg or more for goods with HS heading 7318, per country of origin.

WHAT IF I AM IMPORTING A RANGE OF GOODS UNDER A NUMBER OF COMMODITY CODES AND THE NET WEIGHT UNDER EACH COMMODITY CODE IS 2,5000 KG OR MORE?

You will need a surveillance document for each commodity code and each country of origin where the total weight of goods under each individual licensable commodity code weighs 2,500 kg or more, or in the case of goods with HS heading 7318, the weight is 5,000 kg or more.

HOW LONG IS THE SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT VALID FOR?

Surveillance documents have a four-month validity period which may be renewed for a further four months if not fully used. 

DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT FOR EACH SHIPMENT?

No. An application can cover more than one proposed import from the same exporter, provided the goods being imported are of the same commodity code and have the same country of origin, and provided that the amount on the application can be backed by a pro-forma invoice or a sales/purchase contract showing the intention to import said amount. The surveillance document can be used to clear various shipments during its four-month validity (until it is exhausted).

I PLACED AN ORDER FOR 10,000 KG OF GOODS UNDER ONE OF THE COMMODITY CODES AND HAVE AN INVIOCE FOR THIS ORDER. HOWEVER, I INTEND TO IMPORT THEM IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SHIPMENTS, EACH BEING UNDER THE 2,500 KG WEIGHT LIMIT. DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT?

Whilst if the weight of each shipment under each commodity code is less than 2,500kg, a surveillance document will not be required at customs clearance, deliberate splitting an order into several shipments under the weight threshold could be seen as circumvention of import controls. You are thus advised to apply for a surveillance document for the entire order that you will be importing into the EU.

DO I NEED A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT IF MY GOODS ARE ENTERED IN A CUSTOMS WAREHOUSE?

No, you do not need a surveillance document to enter goods into a customs warehouse.

HOW DO I GET A SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT?  

Applications for Surveillance Documents are to be made through an electronic application form which can be accessed from the commerce.gov.mt website or servizz.gov.mt. The required information is to be typed into the eform. The form is to be signed electronically and the supporting documentation uploaded. Then it can be submitted.  You will be presented with a copy of your submission for your records. The Commerce Department will contact you if additional information or clarifications are required. Otherwise, you will be informed that the Surveillance Document has been issued and is ready for collection. 

HOW MUCH DOES LICENCE SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT COST?

There is no charge for the issuing of a surveillance document. 

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE SURVEILLANCE DOCUMENT TO BE ISSUED?

The Import /Export Licensing Unit within the Commerce Department aims to issue the licence within a maximum of five working days of receipt of a completed application. 

IF THE VALUE OF MY ORDER CHANGES AFTER I RECEIVE MY LICENCE DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR A NEW LICENCE?

Your licence remains valid, and does not require amendment, if the unit price and/or net weight of the import is within a 5% tolerance. Therefore, you can use your existing licence where the difference in value comprises up to a 5% change in the unit price and / or up to a 5% change in the net weight.

WHERE CAN I ADDRESS MY ENQUIRIES OR REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT IN COMPILING AN APPLICATION?

You can address emails to surveillance.cd@gov.mt or call 21.266.668 and ask for the Import/Export Unit.

  1. DUAL-USE TRADE CONTROLS

The export, transit and brokering of dual-use items is subject to licensing.  Dual-use items are goods, software or technology which can be used for both civilian and military applications.  These are listed in Annex 1 to Council Regulation (EC) 428/2009, which is directly applicable in all EU countries including the Malta, to which Subsidiary Legislation 365.12 also applies.

WHAT ARE DUAL-USE GOODS?  

Dual-use items are goods, software, technology, documents and diagrams which can be used for both civil and military applications. They can range from raw materials to components and complete systems, such as aluminium alloys, bearings, or lasers. They could also be items used in the production or development of military goods, such as machine tools, chemical manufacturing equipment and computers. 

Dual-use goods are listed in Annex 1 to Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 which is directly applicable in all EU countries, including Malta. The alpha-numeric code of dual-use goods stands for the below: 

Control categories 

  • 0      nuclear materials 
  • 1      material, chemicals, ‘micro-organisms’ and ‘toxins’ 
  • 2      materials processing 
  • 3      electronics 
  • 4      computers 
  • 5      telecommunications and information security 
  • 6      sensors and lasers 
  • 7      navigation and avionics 
  • 8      marine 
  • 9      aerospace and propulsion 

Sub-categories 

  • A      systems, equipment and components 
  • B      test, inspection and production equipment 
  • C      materials 
  • D      software 
  • E      technology 

Regime origin 

  • 0      Wassenaar Arrangement 
  • 1      Missile Technology Control Regime 
  • 2      Nuclear Supply Group 
  • 3      Australia Group 
  • 4      Chemical Weapons Convention 

If the product you want to export is listed, you will need to apply for a licence. Exports of other non-listed goods may also be controlled if the country of destination is subject to UN, EU or OSCE sanctions. 

WHY ARE EXPORTS CONTROLLED?

The EU controls the export, transit and brokering of dual-use items to contribute to international peace and security and prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). 

EU export controls reflect commitments agreed upon in key multilateral export control regimes such as the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. 

WHAT DO THE CONTROLS COVER?

Controls cover the export, transit and brokering of dual-use items. For goods listed in Annex IV to Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 - which lists the most critical dual-use products which are subject to the strictest controls - a licence is needed for all destinations i.e. even for transfers to other EU Member states. 

WHAT IF I DO NOT APPLY FOR A LICENCE FOR CONTROLLED GOODS?

The cargo/item could be intercepted by Customs who would withhold it until it is determined whether it is subject to licensing. One would also be prone to the penalties listed in article 15 of Subsidiary Legislation 365.12. 

HOW DO I DECIDE IF I NEED AN AUTHORISATION?

The first step is to determine whether the item is listed by comparing the item specifications with the descriptions set out in the legislation. If the product is listed in the Annex I to the regulation, it is subject to authorisation. Some controls apply to certain destinations only and where this is the case it is stated in the legislation. For example, Annex IV items need to be licensed even if they are being transferred to a fellow Member State. 

In addition, non-listed items which could be used e.g. in connection with a WMD programme – would also be subject to licensing through the catch all clause. Where UN trade sanctions or a binding UN arms embargo applies, the supply or delivery to the country concerned of controlled goods may be subject to control. 

You might wish to seek advice from the Trade Services Directorate providing all the relevant technical information and specifications of the products and details of the intended destinations. 

HOW DO I APPLY FOR AN AUTHORISATION?

An application for a licence must be made electronically on commerce.gov.mt or servizz.gov.mt. The information required in the application is to be typed in and submitted online together with all relevant documentation. Documentation could be copies of product manuals, end-use certificates (EUCs), waybill or bill of lading, import or export permits, invoices, certifications and operating licences, etc. Some documents are compulsory requirements across all applications, specifically the EUC and import/export permit. It is however advisable to submit all documents related to the item and transaction involved. Documents are not required in original during processing, but on issuance of a licence. Only the EUC and the application are normally requested in original. All documents must be in English or Maltese. When this is not the case, a certified translation is to be provided together with the document. 

The guidance notes provide a more detail explanation on the application process. 

WHEN SHOULD I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION?

You should submit the application for export authorization as early as possible, and preferably before you make any contractual commitment. Processing times tend to be lengthy in view of the assessments and verifications that need to be carried out by the licensing authority in consultation with other entities. Export authorisations are normally valid for eight months

  1. EXPORTATION OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT

The Military Equipment (Export Control) Regulations, SL365.13 provide for the issue of export authorizations in relation to arms, weapons, ammunition, explosives, toxicological agents and other military equipment, including military vehicles, vessels of war, aircraft and electronic equipment. A list of military equipment which require an export authorization may be found in the Schedule to these regulations. The EU Common Military list is the more updated list. The regulations extend controls to transits and to brokering activities related to the transfer of arms and other military equipment from any country (outside Malta) to any other country.

In line with the EU approach, arms exports are assessed against eight far-reaching risk assessment criteria relating to the risk of human rights and humanitarian law violations, the risk of diversion, the risk of internal or regional instability. These are set out in the EU Common Position  on Arms Export Controls 2008/944/CFSP.

WHAT DO THE CONTROLS COVER?

Controls cover the export, transit and brokering of items listed in the Schedule to the Military Equipment (Export Control) Regulations, SL365.13 and the more updated EU Common Military List.

WHAT ARE THE CATEGORIES OF THE MILITARY LIST?

Military equipment is categorized under 22 distinct categories as defined below:

ML1   Smooth-bore weapons with a calibre of less than 20 mm, other arms and automatic weapons with a calibre of 12,7 mm (calibre 0,50 inches) or less and accessories, and specially designed components therefor

ML2    Smooth-bore weapons with a calibre of 20 mm or more, other weapons or armament with a calibre greater than 12,7 mm (calibre 0,50 inches), projectors and accessories, and specially designed components therefor

ML3    Ammunition and fuze setting devices, and specially designed components therefor

ML4  Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges and related equipment and accessories, and specially designed components therefor

ML5  Fire control, and related alerting and warning equipment, and related systems, test and alignment and countermeasure equipment, specially designed for military use, and specially designed components and accessories therefor

ML6    Ground vehicles and components

ML7  Chemical agents, "biological agents", "riot control agents", radioactive materials, related equipment, components and materials

ML8    "Energetic materials", and related substances

ML9   Vessels of war (surface or underwater), special naval equipment, accessories, components and other surface vessels

ML10 "Aircraft", "lighter-than-air vehicles", "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" ("UAVs"), aero-engines and "aircraft" equipment, related equipment, and components, specially designed or modified for military use

ML11 Electronic equipment, "spacecraft" and components, not specified elsewhere on the EU Common Military List

ML12 High velocity kinetic energy weapon systems and related equipment, and specially designed components

ML13 Armoured or protective equipment, constructions and components

ML14 'Specialised equipment for military training' or for simulating military scenarios, simulators specially designed for training in the use of any firearm or weapon specified by ML1 or ML2, and specially designed components and accessories therefor

ML15 Imaging or countermeasure equipment, specially designed for military use, and specially designed components and accessories therefor

ML16 Forgings, castings and other unfinished products, specially designed for items specified by ML1 to ML4, ML6, ML9, ML10, ML12 or ML19

ML17 Miscellaneous equipment, materials and "libraries", and specially designed components therefor

ML18 'Production' equipment and components

ML19 Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) systems, related or countermeasure equipment and test models, and specially designed components therefor

ML20 Cryogenic and "superconductive" equipment, and specially designed components and accessories therefor

ML21  Software

ML22  Technology

WHAT FIREARMS ARE SUBJECT TO EXPORT CONTROLS?

Firearms are described by control entries ML1 and ML2 of the EU Common Military List. Firearms and related goods are controlled even when they are designed for use in sport rather than for military use. For example, most shotguns and rifles will be specified by ML1.

WHEN IS AN EXPORT LICENCE REQUIRED?

A licence is required when military equipment is being exported to third countries, transited, transshipped or brokered. Intra-community transfers between dealers is also subject to licensing.

WHAT IF I DO NOT APPLY FOR A LICENCE FOR CONTROLLED GOODS?

The cargo/item could be intercepted and withheld until it is determined whether it is subject to licensing. One would also be liable to the penalties listed in article 10 of the Military Equipment (Export Control) Regulations, SL365.13.

 HOW DO I APPLY FOR AN AUTHORISATION? 

An application for an export licence must be made electronically on commerce.gov.mt or servizz.gov.mt. The information required in the application is to be typed in and submitted online together with all relevant documentation.

Supporting documentation could be copies of product manuals, end-use certificates (EUCs), waybill or bill of lading, import or export permits, invoices, certifications and operating licences, etc. Some documents are compulsory requirements across all applications, specifically the EUC and import/export permit. It is however advisable to submit all documents related to the item and transaction involved. Documents are not required in original during processing, but on issuance of a licence. Only the EUC and the application are normally requested in original.

All documents must be in English or Maltese. When this is not the case, a certified translation is to be provided together with the document. 

The guidance notes provide a more detail explanation on the application process. 

WHEN SHOULD I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION? 

You should submit the application for export authorization as early as possible, and preferably before you make any contractual commitment. Processing times tend to be lengthy in view of the assessments and verifications that need to be carried out by the licensing authority in consultation with other entities. Export authorisations are normally valid for eight months.

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