I am from Sweden and I have a friend who lives in Serbia. My friend produces cheese, honey and wine. I'm helping my friend to investigate what would be involved in order to export his produce to Sweden.

I have started a dialogue with the customs authorities in Sweden, and it seems quite bureaucratic and complicated. I'm also investigating an alternative route: import the produce from Serbia to Hungary. Once it is in Hungary, I think it will be easy to export it to Sweden, and we can do so without any special permits or certificates.

  • Once the produce is in Hungary, is it actually easy and straightforward to send it to Sweden?

  • What are the legalities involved when exporting the produce from Serbia to Hungary? I have assumed here that it is easier and less bureaucratic than exporting it to Sweden.

2 Answers 2


Serbia is not in the EU nor internal market, so when importing products you would have to follow specific product requirements, pay eventual import duties and internal taxes (VAT).

I would recommend checking out the European Trade Helpdesk for more information about this. As both Hungary and Sweden are in the internal market it should be the exact same procedure to import into either of the countries. Neither of them should be "easier" than the other as the rules are the same. Once the products are inside the internal market area you can freely transfer them anywhere.

  • Thank you! Did a query to the European Trade Helpdesk, here is a direct link for the query: trade.ec.europa.eu/tradehelp/… It's quite overwhelming though, and not very practical. :s E.g. there is a link to a document that lists roughly 500 maximum levels of contaminants, but it doesn't say anything about how one would go about getting the containment levels actually measured and approved. May 22, 2018 at 23:59

Familiarize yourself with the alcohol monopoly in Sweden

Regarding the wine, you should familiarize yourself with the Swedish alcohol monopoly: In Sweden, only Systembolaget is allowed to sell wine. This means you first need to get the wine into Hungary legally (not sure about the legal requirements for that although you will have to pay duty). Then you have 3 options for getting the wine into Sweden:

a) Swedish customers come to Hungary, buy their wine as walk-in customers, then take it back to Sweden. VAT jurisdiction is in Hungary, customers must pay alcohol tax on their wine if they take it back to Sweden. This route used to be illegal in former times, but ECJ has ruled that it must be allowed. Culturally, this may still be considered a break of taboo in Sweden but it is legal. Customers have to pay a special tax in Sweden on their wine.

b) Wine is ordered remotely (online) and shipped straight to the Swedish customers. VAT jurisdiction in this case is in Sweden but the competent tax authority for collecting Swedish VAT is Hungary (One-Stop-Shop) because that's where you ship from. Customers still have to pay alcohol tax on their import. This route used to be illegal, but ECJ ruled that it must be allowed. Culturally, it may still be considered a breach of taboo.

c) You sell the wine through a retailer in Sweden. Due to the Swedish alcohol monopoly, this means that the only retailer you can sell to is Systembolaget. Systembolaget has a statutory obligation to order wine from you as soon as one of their customers says they want to buy it, so you'll definitely get in touch with Systembolaget at some point. Since Systembolaget is VAT registered, you will need to use VAT Reversal, i. e. you issue an invoice to Systembolaget which doesn't include VAT but explicitly states that the buyer has an obligation to declare and pay Swedish VAT themselves. (Once Systembolaget has duly declared and paid VAT on their order, they can have it refunded as input tax.)

As for the honey and the cheese, I have to admit that I'm not exactly familiar with food safety regulations but rules will probably be less strict than for the wine.

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