Customs agencies

On this website you will find explanations about the sense of representation and the possibilities of the use of a customs representative, as well as of the liability of a customs representative and authorising a customs representative. In addition, here are explanations for provision a service of a customs representative and receipt of a customs agent’s certificate.

If you need an assistance in submission of a customs declaration, then further information can be obtained from the contact persons within the customs agencies.


A customs declaration can be lodged by a consignee / consignor himself/herself or a representative can be appointed on behalf of him or her to carry out the dealings with the customs authorities required under the customs legislation. Such representation may be direct or indirect (Art 18 of the UCC).

In the case of direct representation the customs representative shall act in the name of and on behalf of another person (principal) which means that the principal himself/herself or the consignee on importation and the consignor on exportation shall always become the declarant. For example, on completing the customs declaration on importation, the data on the consignee or declarant (i.e. the principal) shall be placed in box 8 and code ‘2’ and the data on the customs representative in box 14.

The customs representative shall render reponsible together with the person whom he/she represents (Art 15 (2) of the UCC) for the following:

  • the accuracy and completeness of the information given in the customs declaration;
  • the authenticity, accuracy and validity of any document supporting the declaration.

In the case of indirect representation the customs representative shall act in his or her own name but on behalf of another person (principal) which means that, unlike the direct representation, the customs representative shall always become the declarant. For example, on completing the customs declaration on importation, the data on the consignee (i.e. the principal) shall be placed in box 8 and code ‘3’ and the data on the customs representative or the declarant in box 14.

Whereas in the case of indirect representation the customs representative himself/herself shall become the declarant, the indirect representation is impossible in the cases where the lodging of a customs declaration imposes particular obligations on the consignee/consignor himself/herself (Art 170 (1) of the UCC - e.g. when the goods are placed under a special procedure).

The customs representative shall render reponsible together with the person whom he/she represents (Art 15 (2), 77 (3), 84 of the UCC) for the following:

  • the payment of the taxes;
  • the accuracy and completeness of the information given in the customs declaration;
  • the authenticity, accuracy and validity of any document supporting the customs declaration.

Empowerment of a customs representative

A consignee/consignor (a board member entered on the B-card) can empower a customs representative to lodge customs declarations on his/her behalf whether electronically in the e-MTA or in another form in writing. As an exception, a power of attorney can be given electronically in the e-MTA or in a Service Bureau of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board only for use of the prepayment account or security upon the deferred payment of the amount of tax.  Read more about the empowerment in "Access permissions".

If powers granted for representation is not registered in the e-MTA, the customs authorities may require, when carrying out customs formalities, that the customs representative is in a position to produce the evidence of his/her empowerment (Art 19 of the UCC). The appropriate evidence may be included either in the power of attorney or the corresponding contract concluded with the client. It is important that the customs representative shall prove his/her right to act as a customs representative on behalf of another person. The customs representative shall indicate in box 14 of the customs declaration whether he/she is engaged in direct or indirect representation. If it turns out later that the customs representative has no powers to represent, the customs representative shall bear the sole responsibility for the liabilities arising from the customs declaration.

There are three types of powers a consignee/consignor (principal) can grant to a customs representative in the e-MTA.

An empowerment for submission of customs declarations shall give a customs representative the right to lodge customs declarations on behalf of a consignee/consignor.

The Estonian Tax and Customs Board presumes in addition that in the case of indirect representation on importation, the customs representative is aware of his/her concurrent (joint and several) financial responsibility.

If a consignee does not grant any supplementary powers for the use of his/her financial resources (a prepayment account, a guarantee), the method of payment entered in box 48 on the customs declaration in the event of direct representation can only be “2 – Paid by representative”, and in the event of indirect representation it can be “2 – Paid by representative” or “0 – Guaranteed by representative”.

In the event of direct representation, the payment method “0 – Guaranteed by representative“ cannot be entered in box 48 when lodging the customs declaration, because in the event of non-payment of customs debt the customs authorities have no grounds to recover the unpaid amount of tax from the guarantor. For the reason that the declarant or the consignee only is responsible for the payment of the amount of tax arising from the customs debt in the event of direct representation (Art. 77 (3) of the UCC).

Empowerment for use of the prepayment account in customs shall give the right for the customs representative to pay the amount of tax determined on the customs declaration from the prepayment account of the consignee.

Such right can be exercised in the case, if the consignee wishes to pay import duties before the release of the goods, that means, the payment method indicated in box 48 on the customs declaration is “3 – Paid by consignee or consignor”.

Such empowerment can be used only if there is a valid authorisation for lodging customs declarations.

Empowerment for the use of a guarantee for customs operations shall give the right for a customs representative to defer the payment of the amount of tax determined on the customs declaration, using the consignee’s guarantee.

Such right can be exercised in the case if the consignee wishes to defer the payment of the amount of tax, that means, the payment method indicated in box 48 on the customs declaration is “1 – Guaranteed by consignee or consignor”.

Such empowerment can be used only if there is a valid authorisation for lodging customs declarations.

  • • The customs authorities shall make it possible in the event of direct representation to use the payment method “2 - Paid by representative”. In such a case the amount of tax needed for the payment of the customs declaration must be available on the prepayment account of the customs representative at the time of the release of the goods. Using the payment method “2 - Paid by representative” in the event of direct representation, the representative does not have the right for the recovery of the amount of tax from the customs authorities, which had been paid earlier by him/her and released after the subsequent entry in the accounts.
  • • If the need for the amendment of the customs declaration after the release of the goods arises in the event of direct representation, the payment method of which was “2 - Paid by representative”, the payment method in the amendment application shall always be changed as follows; “3 - Paid by consignee or consignor”. In that case the amounts of taxes reduced by subsequent entry in the accounts will be made available on the prepayment account of the declarant/consignee, or the amounts of taxes to be paid additionally shall be paid from the prepayment account of the declarant/consignee. If the customs representative himself/herself wishes to receive the amounts of taxes paid by him/her, he/she has to contact the declarant/consignee directly.
  • If the customs authorities establish after the release of the goods that the data submitted on the customs declaration are incorrect, and the amount due is increased, the declarant shall be responsible for the payment of the additionally imposed amount. In the event of indirect representation, the consignee as well. In the event of direct representation, the customs representative is jointly and severally responsible for the payment of additionally imposed amount only if the customs authorities have established that the customs representative knew or ought to have known that the information on the customs declaration was wrong.
  • Entries in the accounts are made in the name of the person who is indicated as a payer in box 48 on the customs declaration. If the representation mode on the customs declaration is “direct representation” and the payment method in box 48 is indicated “2 – Paid by representative“, the entries in the accounts shall be made in the name of the customs representative.

Further information

General information about the customs agencies can be obtained from the customs information by telephone +372 880 0814.

Customs agency activity licence

Pursuant to the Customs Act, for a customs representative to lodge a customs declaration (both in the event of direct and indirect representation) a customs agency activity licence is required. As an exception, an activity licence is not required from the customs representative in the following cases (subsection 17 (2) of the Customs Act):

  • if a natural person submits a customs declaration on behalf of another natural person and representation is not his/her economic activity;
  • the person represented need not himself/herself be established in the customs territory of the union.

A customs agency can operate through customs agents only who have passed the customs agent examination (Subsections 17 (1) and 19 (1) of the Customs Act). The customs agency holding the AEO authorisation using customs simplifications is an exception, the natural person appointed by which is a competent customs agent without passing the examination.

Whereas the customs data processing system checks the competence of the customs agent indicated in box 54G on the customs declaration, the customs agency shall inform the customs authorities in advance of the customs agents working in his company.

Organisation of customs agent examination

The examination to be conducted by the customs authorities consists of two parts:

  1. theoretical part - knowledge of customs legislation;
  2. practical part - lodging of a customs declaration.

The practical part can be taken if the theoretical part has been passed.

The theoretical part is considered to be passed if at least 65% of the answers in the test is correct. The practical part is considered to be passed if the customs declaration is completed and submitted as required in the data processing system.

The person who has not passed the examination can renew the examination after two months have elapsed as of the day of failure to pass the examination. As a general, examinations can be taken in every third month. For persons wishing to pass the examination, the date, time and place of conducting the examination shall be communicated in writing. The examination board shall formalise the exam results within ten calendar days as of the day of taking the examination and issue a customs agent certificate to the person who has passed the examination.

The following e-mail address is available in order to register for the examination and receive information of the organisation of the examination: tolliagendieksam@emta.ee.

Customs agent training is provided by:

  • The Centre for Continuing Education of the Academy of Security Sciences
    Contact: Ankki Aardemaa, project manager of the continuing education ankki.aardemaa@sisekaitse.ee, 5326 9076
  • MA-HE Invest OÜ
    Contact: Heiki Eichhorn, info@tollikoolitus.eu, 5553 2000

Last updated: 30.10.2021

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