Intrastat: Complete Guide
Check what an Intrastat return is, when you need to submit it, and what the data requirements are for these type of returns.
Table of contents
What is an Intrastat return?
Intrastat is a statistical declaration that must be submitted by certain business engaged in international trade within the European Union. Intrastat declarations measure the movement of goods - dispatches and arrivals - across EU member states.
The Intrastat obligation was created in 1993 when the original Member States became part of the European Union and customs formalities were removed. Intrastat declarations then replaced customs declarations as the source of trade statistics within the EU.
The requirements of Intrastat are similar in all member states of the EU, although there are some differences on how each member state has implemented the rules.
Intrastat reporting: Information to be reported
Intrastat declarations mainly cover statistical data, however, fiscal data is also required in some cases. Although Intrastat returns are guided by national statistical legislation, there is a close link with the VAT system relating to intra-EU trade and the figures are often reconciled to check the exhaustiveness and quality of the data reported.
The information to be reported in Intrastat declarations depends on the Intrastat reporting thresholds stated by each Member State. The thresholds of each country determine whether a “detailed” or “simplified” declaration should be submitted.
Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No 638/2004 defines the data elements to be mandatorily collected by the national authorities. Some optional ones are also listed in the legislation in order to ensure harmonization across the Member States. However, the optional list is not exhaustive and Member States may collect additional data elements for national purposes.
Find an overview below of the most common data to be reported:
Member State of departure/arrivalRegion of departure/arrival
Delivery termsNature of transaction
Country of originMode of transport
Commodity CodeQuantity (net mass and supplementary units)
Invoice valueStatistical value
Following the introduction of project for Intrastat modernisation in 2022, the information on i) EU VAT number identification of the partner operator in country of arrival, and ii) country of origin of the goods became mandatory in all EU Member states.
When should I register for Intrastat?
Intrastat declarations should be filed when the total value of any goods dispatched to other EU Member States and/or the total value of any goods acquired from other EU Member States is above the respective thresholds of the EU Member State.
Intrastat declarations should be filed if: (a) the value of trade with other Member States during the previous year exceeds the applicable thresholds, or (b) the cumulative value of trade with other Member States since the beginning of the year exceeds the applicable thresholds.
Each Member State fixes its national thresholds, applicable separately to arrivals and dispatches, below which business are exempted from providing any Intrastat information. The thresholds are reviewed annually, with any change normally announced towards the end of the preceding year.
Member States set the deadline for the submission of Intrastat declarations to the competent national authority. In general, Intrastat returns are due on monthly basis and the due date is calculated based on working days or on a calendar day. If the due date falls on a weekend or bank holiday it is often shifted to next working day.
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How should Intrastat declarations be submitted?
Collecting and processing statistical intra-EU trade information may be carried out by one or more national institutions. However, the leading authority may differ from the authority which collects Intrastat declarations.
Intrastat returns should be filed by electronic means and only in exceptional cases paper filing is allowed. The national authorities usually provide the software application for generating the electronic declaration (offline) free of charge or they enable Intrastat data to be reported via a web interface (online). Numerous tools were developed during the last years to submit the Intrastat declarations and to help collect and process the statistical data (for example, IDEP/CN8 software helping in the compilation of declarations).
Intrastat commodity code
The commodity code is an eight-digit coding system, comprising the Harmonized System (HS) codes with further EU subdivisions. The commodity codes are also called Combined Nomenclature (CN) and they are used by the EU Member States to collect detailed data on their trading of goods.
The CN classifies all goods to meet the requirements both of the Common Customs Tariff and of the EU's external trade statistics. The CN is also used in intra-EU trade statistics.
The CN contains the complete nomenclature for the description of products on the Intrastat declaration. Every year, the CN is subject to annual revisions that ensure it is kept up to date in the light of changes in technology or patterns of international trade in goods.