Four months after the European Commission (EC) requested Romania to lower its statute of limitation for additional customs liabilities from five years to three years, we have not identified any action from the Romanian authorities to comply with the request.
The Romanian customs authority can communicate customs debt to the debtor up to five years after it was incurred, and additional customs debts arising from such audits are calculated using a five-year period, too.
However, this term contravenes the EU Customs Code, which allows national customs authorities only three years to communicate a customs debt, except for cases when a customs debt arises from a criminal act where the period can be extended to 10 years.
If you were subject to a customs audit in Romania in the past that covered debt over a period of four to five years, you may be entitled to a refund for the debt exceeding a three-year period. Leaving aside the last two years in a customs audit usually decreases the overall customs debt by more than 50% given the large impact of late payment interest in the overall amount. Of course, each case has its own merits and has to be properly analysed before formal actions are taken in the process.
Customs audits continue to cover a five-year period, despite the infringement procedure from the EC. If you face a customs audit in Romania which covers more than three years, we recommend acting immediately to adjust the audited period before the audit is formally closed.
We expect the EC to send a reasoned opinion to the Romanian authorities, which is the next step in the infringement procedure. Decreasing the time to communicate a customs debt from five to three years will push the Romanian authorities to act more efficiently in the customs audit process.
We expect this big change will result in the introduction of full electronic customs audits and encourage regular assessments by economic operators based on data supplied by the customs authorities. These results are the fundamentals of mutual trust between the customs authorities and economic operators across the EU.