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Sell in Spain? There’s a new plastic packaging tax you need to know about


Global efforts to reduce our impact on the planet are gathering pace, and countries within the EU are leading the way when it comes to pushing reforms on product packaging.

The next step in this drive has come into force in Spain in the form of a plastic packaging tax – an indirect levy on the use of non-reusable plastic packaging that’s sold in the country. 

Here’s what businesses exporting into Spain need to know, and what they need to do next.

What businesses need to know

The plastic packaging tax will be applied to any single-use packaging that’s either primary, secondary or tertiary in scope. This includes packaging that is not primarily made of plastic materials, where the weight of the non-recycled plastic elements will be taxed. 

Recycled plastics are exempt from the levy, however, they must be accredited as recycled by either the National Entity of Accreditation, similar accreditation bodies associated with EU member states, or comply under UNE-EN 152343:2008 Plastics – Recycled Plastics – Plastics recycling traceability and assessment of conformity and recycled content.

What products does the tax apply to?

This tax matters because it applies to a broad swathe of the economy, from food and drink products to cosmetics and essentially, any product that has packaging! 

Some key taxable elements include:

  • Cosmetics: product applicators, bottles, containers
  • Food and drink: trays, bottles, jugs, food containers
  • Packaging: film to protect products (like magazine wrap), boxes, cases, vacuum packaging
  • Secondary packaging: plastic rungs, packaging tape, bubble wrap and pallet protective film

There are some non-taxable items, however, which revolve around essential packaging or needed for use. For example, air fresheners and packaging that’s needed to contain, support or preserve the goods either through their lifecycle or intended use. 

What you need to do next

First, businesses need to establish who is liable for the tax. 

Manufacturers are liable from the first delivery or making the product available within Spain, with the amount of tax paid detailed in invoices to their customers. 

Importers become liable when the import duties are accrued in accordance with customs legislation. 

Critically, taxpayers not established in Span will need to appoint a natural or legal person to represent them before the tax administration – before they start activities that would be taxable. 

This is a complex piece of legislation and it’s important for exporters or anyone doing business within the Spanish territories to understand, factor into pricing, and properly declare. 

For more information, Go Exporting can help with the tax calculation and implications for your business. Get in touch with us here

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