Customs management in the Canary Islands

It is important to consider how customs formalities are handled when goods arrive at their destination. A simple documentation error can lead to customs delays in the Canary Islands that nobody wants, with an even higher cost for the customer.


General considerations for customs management

Different tax regime

The Canary Islands is an autonomous community with a special economic and fiscal regime recognised in the Constitution, based on the following.

  • Commercial freedom to export and import.
  • Non-application of monopolies.
  • Tax and customs relief on consumption.

There are principles and rules that must be applied due to the recognition of the Canary Islands as an outermost region of the European Union in Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Thus, the following do not apply in the Canary Islands:

  • value added tax (VAT);
  • excise duty on mineral oils;
  • excise duty on tobacco products.

Tax rates and how they are calculated

However, the Canary Islands has its own indirect taxes for these and other products.

  • Tax on petroleum-based fuels: In 2022, this was significantly reduced for professionals to mitigate the effects of fuel inflation on households.
  • Tax on tobacco products: This is a percentage of the price of all types of tobacco products sold to the public, including rolling tobacco.

The Canary Islands general indirect tax and the tax on imports and deliveries of goods in the Canary Islands (IGIC). This is the equivalent of VAT with lower tax rates that vary according to the sector and the degree of need for the goods or services in question.

Necessary documentation

The following documentation is required for customs formalities in the Canary Islands, e.g., the payment of Canary customs duties at a customs office in the Canary Islands.

  • Technical sheet.
  • DUA and Export release: The Canary Islands DUA or declaration of introduction (CO) indicates whether a vehicle is from the European Union, i.e. the Customs Union. After importing, the IEDMT, a special tax on certain means of transport, if applicable, must be regularised.
  • Bill of lading: This is one of the most important documents in the shipment of goods because of the information it contains about the goods, their transport and the buyer and seller.

If the procedure is carried out on behalf of the holder, a copy of the holder’s ID card and a signed authorisation must be provided.

Any exemption from customs duties because of a change of residence must also be added to the documentation:

  • historical registration certificate for the mainland;
  • certificate of census registration or document proving this for the Canary Islands.



These are a set of established 3-letter codes for obligations on both buyer and seller and are thus used as a basis for sales contracts.

The current Incoterms are Incoterms 2020. They represent an evolution with respect to stipulated sales contracts conditions and also represent a guarantee for the customer, though they are not obligatory.

Key Considerations for Customs Management: General Aspects to Keep in Mind.
Effective handling of customs formalities at the destination prevents unwanted delays and additional costs. Image by Freepik


Customs services

General customs services

This complex process involves the following customs formalities.

  • Submission of a series of completed, verified documents to ensure the origin and destination of the goods and the transport match what has been declared to Customs.
  • Depending on the type of transport, there is a variable time limit for submitting the customs documentation to the shipping company.

Container rental and sale

Shipping containers are large, made of aluminium or steel and are used for loading and transporting goods.

They provide an optimal solution for both indoor and outdoor storage.

They are made available to the customer for.

  • Rent: This is a very convenient option for the customer, which pays per use.
  • Sale: Ownership is a choice of many customers who prefer it,

In both cases, they can be put to two uses.

  1. Storage of all types of goods: They are strong enough to store any product for transportation.
  2. Maritime service (CSC certified): They guarantee safe transport for the goods by any means, including by sea.

Customs management of vehicles

The first step is to check whether taxes are payable. To be exempt from customs duties, the following requirements must be met:

  • Minimum of 6 months as owner of the vehicle.
  • The holder must not have been registered in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands during the last 12 months.
  • The vehicle owner must be registered at the destination.

Once the vehicle arrives on the islands, an application for temporary or permanent import is made at the Imported Vehicles Department, Regional Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Once import clearance is obtained, the shipping company collects the vehicle when authorised.


Import and export

Importing (bringing goods into the country) and exporting (taking goods out of the country) require customs formalities that are often complex. Additionally, the corresponding taxes, with all their peculiarities in terms of exemptions and deductions, must be paid. This requires the work of experts in the field to ensure that the procedures carried out are correct.

Transport of goods between the mainland and the Canary Islands requires a great deal of logistical and legal knowledge to be carried out successfully.

Suisca Group has over 30 years of experience in the maritime sector. Our companies are Suisca SL, Suisca Cables, Suisca Iberia and Representaciones & Charts with headquarters in Las Palmas and offices in the ports of Tenerife, Algeciras and Huelva. We can carry out the customs formalities you need for the Canary Islands. Get in touch with us.