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Import VAT for upgraded Avionics

I’m considering an upgrade of my avionics during my trip from Germany to the USA next year. Unfortunately & if I do this correctly I have to pay import VAT for the devices and labor in the EU. In Germany this will be 19%. Since I can use any EU state to pay the VAT, the cheapest seems to be Luxembourg with 15%. Does anybody know any other way to save money here? Denmark had 0% for aircraft parts until 2010 but that’s gone AFAIK.



I should think that VAT is due when acquiring stuff – either new or perhaps even when second-hand – but certainly not for an upgrade which should imho have the same status as a repair?

Or do you mean you will have new equipment installed to replace the existing?

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

You can pay VAT as soon you enter EU. So if you want to pay it there, fly into Luxembourg as first stop in the EU.
I don’t think there are any flights from US direct to Luxembourg, so your only option is via Switzerland.
US → Zurich or Geneva → Luxembourg tax it there and another flight to Germany.

If you buy a lot avionics it could make sense, but to spend a few hundred on additional flights would eat your profit.
The other thing is waste of time for just 4%.

Last Edited by mdoerr at 12 Dec 10:52
EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

But that means you have to fly DIRECTLY to Luxembourg and land there for the first time in the EU. No really possible with most GA planes, right? I would try to find used avionics for a good price and pay the tax … whereever

Oh you fly yourself. I thought you might go by CAT.
If you have big aux tanks in your cabin you could fly from Iceland to LLX but I doubt that rent installation and paperwork is worth the money you’d save.

Last Edited by mdoerr at 12 Dec 11:14
EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

I fly myself with my Cessna Silver Eagle. It may make it direct to ELLX from Island. However, there is certainly a way to do a tank stop without to pay VAT at that stop.

It is an avionics upgrade. That is, I fly over there with my old avionics installed and will come back with the new avionics installed. Does anybody know a way to legally avoid VAT at all or to minimize it? There may also be a need to pay customs for the devices but I haven’t checked it yet. I know Denmark had no VAT for aircraft parts until 2010 and no customs.


The legal answer is probably more complicated and – as with the whole aircraft if bought outside the EU – it depends on whether the owner is an EU citizen, and some other stuff. It is possible to get special paperwork to cover the aircraft for intermediate fuel stop(s) on the way to the final country of residence. Unfortunately this is all I know…

The practical answer is that the chance of getting caught for VAT on an equipment upgrade is probably somewhere between zero and zero.

Last Edited by Peter at 12 Dec 12:44
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The practical answer is that the chance of getting caught for VAT on an equipment upgrade is probably somewhere between zero and zero.

Not if you have jealous people at your airfield. Then the chance is 100%.

The aircraft has been imported in 2001, VAT paid in France and is in free flow. Owner is a trust. When I fly to the US I do not export it. It’s just a flight.


Your first landing in the EU is treated as importing the goods. If you land for fuel you have imported it. Full stop. You import it with the rate of your country or the rate of the first EU country you reach.
You have to be careful now as you have posted on a public forum.

EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

There is no way around this first landing and pay VAT? Island to ELLX are > 1300 nm. Too much for one leg…

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