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The European Commission introduced the ‘Prior Surveillance’ import licensing regime to monitor the importation of specific products into the European Union.

Since May 2016, the importation into the European Union of steel and iron products has been subject to the ‘prior surveillance’ import licensing regime.

In April 2018, the prior surveillance regime was extended to aluminum products.

This means that from the dates indicated below, the release for free circulation in the territory of the European Union of the following goods is subject to the presentation of a Surveillance Document:

The Surveillance Document:

  • ​Can be acquired by applying with the Import-Export Unit at the Commerce Department. It is issued free of charge.

  • Is to be requested for each Combined Nomenclature (CN) Code. (If different CN Codes appear on the same purchase order/invoice, a separate surveillance document is to be requested for every different code).
  • ​C​an cover various purchase orders, as long as it concerns the same CN Code and the same importer.
  • Can cover several shipments (as long as the quantities on the surveillance document are not fully used by one shipment).



The prior surveillance import document is not needed for:

  • Imports whose net weight is lower than 2,500 kilogrammes and 5,000 kilogrammes for imports with HS heading 7318 only. These exemptions apply to each product imported and per individual CN code, and not to the consignment in its entirety.
  • Products made in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.
  • Products which are not entered into free circulation but into a Customs Relief Scheme.  (If the products are subsequently entered into free circulation a licence is required).




Each Surveillance document is valid for 4 months and may be renewed for a further 4 months if not fully used.

Submission of application:

Applications must be made on the relevant application form.  The application consists of four sheets which have to be printed back to front. Sheet 1, the Holder’s Copy is handed back to the applicant on successful application, whilst Sheet 2, the Competent Entity’s copy, is retained by the Department. The back of sheet 1 is utilised for attributions.

A duly filled, signed and dated application form may be sent by e-mail on or presented in person or by post to the Commerce Department, Trade Services Directorate, Import/Export Licensing Unit, Lascaris Bastions, Daħlet Ġnien is-Sultan, Valletta, VLT1933.

If submitting more than one application by email, submit separate e-mails for each application.

For further details on how to complete the application refer to the section entitled Guidelines for Filling the Form​.

The application form has to be accompanied with documents which back the information presented in the application, in particular the monetary value and the quantity in kilograms. Examples of such documents are pro-forma invoices and sales or purchase contracts.

Fees and timeframes

The surveillance document is issued free of charge within five (5) working days from submission of an application deemed complete by the Trade Services Directorate.


In case of any queries please contact the Commerce Department on:

Telephone: 21226688/25690100



Frequently asked questions​

Guidelines for completing the application form – surveillance document​

Application form – surveillance document​