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Spain Documentation

Issues related to trading with Spain, such as importing regulations, documentation requirements, custom information, etc.

Spain Documentation

Postby bridgat » Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:39 am

Import/Export Documentation

Standard Documents:

Several types of documents are required for shipments to Spain. Exporters must present one original and one copy of a commercial invoice, one bill of lading and three copies of a certificate of origin for all shipments. The commercial invoice must include all charges including insurance and freight (shipping). Official certificates of origin can be bought from Spanish consulates, but generic form may be used. The official form may be required if the importer wants it legalized. Certificates are good for 6 months.

Contacts for certificates:
Spanish consulates:
Spain-U.S. Chambers of Commerce:
New York City
The Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2600
New York, NY 10118
Tel: (212) 967 2170
Fax: (212) 564 1415

Other certificates are necessary for exporting pharmaceutical goods, perishable foods, live animals and some medical goods.

Sanitary Certificates

U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) certificates are required for the importation of living plant material, including plants, plant products and seeds, into Spain. Health inspection requirements also govern the importation of animals and parts of animals, including meat products, skins, hides and similar products, marine mammals, fish, crustaceans, or mollusks and parts thereof. In addition, a certificate from the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is required to import meat and poultry products.

The regulations for importing living plant material, including plants, plant products and seeds, as well as animals and parts of animals, etc., into Spain are established by the EU Commission. Export agents or brokers may present products for inspection. Airlines may handle the inspection of air shipments.

Pharmaceutical Certificates

These certificates are required by Spanish Customs for drugs and certain sanitary items. A standard analysis bulletin issued by the manufacturer, listing the product composition, is acceptable for customs purposes.

Other certificates

Ocean-going vessels require a certificate of compliance from the Marine Authority (Ministry of Transport) to bring ships into Spain. In order to acquire this certificate, the manufacturer has to demonstrate the sea-worthiness of the vessels. The National Marine Manufacturers Association issues a sea-worthiness affidavit that is accepted by the Spanish authorities for the certificate of compliance.

Fines and Penalties

Regulations establish fines for whatever actions delay the normal customs procedure. Fines are not very large, usually between 30 and 60 euros. These, in and of themselves, do not include fraudulent actions.

Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties

As a signatory to the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty Codes of the GATT, Spain, through the EU Anti-Dumping Committee, penalizes products imported at less than their normal value which cause injury to domestic industry. The anti-dumping duty will be the difference between the dumped price and the comparable domestic price of the exported product. The duration of the countervailing duty imposition varies from case to case.

Re-Export/Temporary Entry

The Spanish re-export system is regulated by Order of July 24, 1987, conforming to EU regulations. Re-export inquiries must be addressed to the Port's Customs Director. Re-exports of U.S. goods from Spain follow the same procedures as the exportation of Spanish products. Goods re-exported to other EU member states are subject to statistical surveillance.

Re-exports outside the EU, which are not covered by specific EU regulations, are exported with an accompanying Customs Export Declaration at the exit point. A limited number of goods require a Prior Notice of Export.

Exporters of high-technology goods subject to U.S. export control procedures must ensure that Spanish clients and subsidiaries are aware of U.S. export controls requirements.

There are four types of procedures for handling the re-export of goods:

1) Temporary Imports: Goods imported for a limited time period under an ATA (international Customs document for temporary duty-free imports) carnet. A bank guarantee in the form of a bond equivalent to duties owed must be provided to Customs, which will be refunded once the goods leave the country.

2) Temporary Admission: Goods which will be incorporated into a final product for export. Prior approval by the State Secretariat of Commerce is necessary. The same procedure used for temporary imports applies for re-export.

3) Replacement Goods: Companies with continuing needs for primary materials, commodities, or intermediates can request prior approval from the State Secretariat of Commerce for replacement goods after the second year of operation. They must deposit a bond with Customs on the compensatory tax only. Replacements for defective goods destroyed under Customs supervision are also admitted duty-free, but require extensive supporting documentation.

4) Drawback: Duties are paid simultaneously with a presentation of a list of products to be re-exported in the future. Later, a rebate is given upon customs clearance out of Spain. This procedure also requires prior approval by the State Secretariat of Commerce.

Companies are advised to use the carnet procedure to temporarily bring goods into Spain for demonstration purposes without paying duties or posting bond. The carnet must be presented to the customs authorities whenever entering or leaving the country. Consumable items and give-away samples are not included under carnet procedures. ATA carnets are predominantly used for commercial samples, tools of trade, advertising material or cinematographic, audio-visual, medical, scientific or other professional equipment that will be imported for a period of less than a year. The advantage of the ATA carnet is that it allows exporters to avoid normal customs clearance formalities.

The carnet also provides a financial guarantee to foreign customs officials so that if the goods are not re-exported, the duty will be paid. A bond equivalent to the duty is charged.

The ATA carnet is used internationally and should be distinguished from the EU carnet, sometimes referred to as the ESC carnet. Introduced in July 1985, the EU carnet is used for the temporary movement of certain types of goods, usually equipment and working materials, between EU countries. Unlike the ATA carnet, it does not require the posting of a bond.

Carnet applications are available from all district offices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, most U.S. Chambers of Commerce and authorized export insurance companies. The U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce in New York also issues them.

Advertising material, catalogs, price lists and similar printed items are admitted duty free. However, to avoid any problems such items should always be labeled, "no value". Otherwise, a customs duty is likely to be levied on the sample.

As a signatory to the International Convention to Facilitate the Importation of Commercial Samples and Advertising Matter, Spain admits samples of negligible value duty free. Business people upon payment of a bond may import those items that are of commercial value and not covered under carnet procedures for up to a year. Upon presentation of the customs receipt and at re-export, the deposit is refunded.

Qualifying business people entering with commercial samples should come equipped with a letter from his or her principals attesting to their status, identifying the samples and certifying that the samples are not for sale. The nearest Spanish Consulate must certify the letter.

Labeling, Marking Requirements

In view of the complexity and rapid change in marking, labeling and testing requirements in Spain, U.S. exporters should request pertinent instructions from their importers prior to shipment.

The following are specific categories of goods, for which marking, labeling, and/or testing requirements are applicable:

Foodstuffs: The Directorate General of Health sets human consumption standards for the preparation, residual content and storage media for virtually all classes of foodstuffs. The labels on the container must include the product designation, a list of ingredients, the weight or volume, dates (manufacturing, packing, minimum shelf life, and expiration dates), directions for food preservation (if applicable), identification of the firm involved (manufacturer, packer, or importer) and the country of origin. If the original label is not in Spanish, a similar one must be prepared in Spanish and be firmly affixed to the container. Milk products, margarine, chocolate and soaps have other, more technical labeling requirements. Wines and other alcoholic beverages must meet Spanish standards.

New EU legislation on the labeling and traceability of genetically modified food and animal feed will come into effect in January 2004. As of that date, all foods produced from GMOs will have to be labeled as such, even if they no longer contain any detectable DNA or protein of GM origin. The levels for accidental presence of GM materials in non-labeled, conventional food and feed have been set at 0.9 percent for GMOs that have been formally approved by the EU, and 0.5 percent for GMOs scientifically approved by EU experts, but without final clearance. After three years, the latter threshold will cease to apply. Very strict procedures will also ensure the "traceability" of GM products through the production chain. GM content of products must be transmitted from one operator to the next for five years.

Textiles: Customs and point-of-sale regulations require that all textile goods and ready-made clothing have a Spanish label. Standard Spanish textile nomenclature and content requirements must be stated on the label. Requirements relating to textile content, labeling and packaging are specific and extensive. They are regulated by Royal Decree 928/1987, dated June 5, 1987. Manufacturers' trademarks, duly registered, are permitted on textile products.

Drugs, Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics: These goods are subject to technical inspection and registration by the Directorate General of Health prior to entry. There are also detailed marking and labeling requirements, somewhat similar to those for foodstuffs, which include detailed chemical composition.

Fertilizers and Fungicides: Imported fertilizers must be registered with the local Agriculture Ministry Office. Inspection and analysis will be performed prior to customs clearance. The Ministry of Agriculture must approve all printed advertising and publicity materials, and labels must be in Spanish and include detailed precautions.

Firearms: The Spanish government must clear all firearms, and they must bear a stamp of certification.

Metals: The Spanish Guarantee Bureau provides assay services and affixes its hallmark for all imported precious metals.

Motor Vehicles: Each vehicle will be inspected for engraved serial numbers on both the engine and chassis. If one of these is not available, Spanish customs levies a special charge for stamping the number.

Tires and Tubes: All tires and inner tubes must be marked with a serial number.

Agricultural products: Labeling requirements are fully harmonized with the EU labeling system; however, the labels must be in Spanish.


In March of 1992, the EU Council approved law 880/92 establishing a community-wide system for granting Eco-labels (green label) to products that voluntarily satisfy environmental standards.

The EU's objectives in setting up a system for issuing green labels are twofold. The labels inform consumers of products that are environmentally safer than others in all aspects of a product's life cycle. Furthermore, they improve the design, production and marketing as well as increase the use of products that have low or non-adverse effects on the environment and that use natural resources wisely.

The EU hopes that these objectives will increase the standards of health, security and the condition of the environment of the EU countries. Products imported into the EU that wish to obtain a green label must follow the same strict criteria as EU members.

Spain's participation in the EU Eco-labeling program was established by Royal Decree in April 1994.

For additional information regarding Eco-labels, please go to:

CE Mark

The ¨CE¨ Mark is now mandatory for a wide range of products sold in the European Union. The European Commission has established over 30 Directives outlining which products require the CE Mark. The Commission does not publish a list of products to which their laws apply; they require the manufacturer to determine the applicability of Directives to any given product. For more information regarding the CE Mark and the Directives of the European Commission, please contact the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of European Union and Regional Affairs: Herbert C. Hoover Building, Room 3036 Washington DC 20230, Tel: (202) 482-5276 or the Commercial Service: U.S. Mission to the EU 40 Boulevard du Regent B-1060 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: 32/2/508.2674. U.S. manufacturers wishing to export to Europe may also browse:
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