Free zone

Member States may designate certain parts of the territory of the Union as free zones. The free zone regime allows non-EU goods to be introduced and held in such enclosed areas under suspension of the payment of customs duties.

Characteristics and modalities of use

The customs free zone is an enclosed area with entry and exit points under customs supervision. It is established by a legal provision, while the approval of its perimeter and the activation of the zone itself are the responsibility of the Customs Authority.

Goods introduced into a free zone are considered to be placed under this regime without carrying out customs formalities, but only by being entered in the accounting records. In some cases, the introduction of goods into a free zone discharges the previous procedure (e.g. in the case of non-EU goods previously placed under the transit procedure).

In free zones, it is possible to carry out the usual handling of goods without specific authorisation or, on the basis of special authorisations, to use the inward processing, end-use and temporary importation regimes.

Goods placed under the free zone procedure may subsequently be imported into the territory of the Union with payment of the relevant customs duties or re-exported or placed under another procedure.

Union goods may also be stored within the free zone provided they are properly entered in the records.

Reference legislation

Art. 214-225 and 243-249 EU Reg. 952/2013

Art. 178 EU Reg. 2446/2015

National provisions and administrative practice documents:

Circolare n. 8/D del 19 aprile 2016