Find out how to prove the originating status of your goods and check if you can claim preferential tariff treatment.
The Origin Procedures in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) (Articles 37 to 67) set out the process for goods to prove their originating status and how a reduced rate of Customs Duty (known as a tariff preference) can be claimed.
Claiming preferential tariff treatment
Find the full list of relevant Trade and Cooperation Agreement articles:
- Article 54 (page 71) – claim for preferential tariff treatment
- Article 55 (page 72) – time of the claim for preferential tariff treatment
- Article 60 (page 76) – small consignments
- Article 64 (page 86) – confidentiality
How to claim preference
If the UK has a trade agreement with a country, you may be able to pay a reduced rate of Customs Duty (tariff preference).
The customs authority of the importing party will grant preferential tariff treatment, based on a claim made by the importer, to goods that originate in the other party that meet the conditions of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement a claim can be made if the importer has one of the following proofs of origin:
- a statement on origin that the product is originating made out by the exporter
- the importer’s knowledge that the product is originating
A claim for preference, and the ‘presentation’ of the proof of origin, is normally included on the customs declaration to enter the goods into free circulation. However, a claim can also be made after importation as long as it is made within 3 years of the importation date and accompanied with a valid proof of origin. In those circumstances any duties would be repaid to the importer.
In the UK, a claim for duties to be repaid is made using form C285.
Find out more information on how to complete a customs declaration, including one which includes a claim for preference, using the:
For goods imported from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021, traders will have up to 175 days to complete customs declarations. This will give traders extra time to make arrangements to evidence their claim to the preferential tariff rate.
Rules for small consignments of goods
As long as they are declared to the customs authorities as meeting the origin rules, some goods may be imported without the need for a formal proof of origin (a waiver).
For import into the EU, this waiver applies to goods valued under either:
- 500 euros for products sent in small packages
- 1,200 euros for products forming part of a traveller’s personal luggage
For the EU, this waiver does not apply to commercial imports.
For import into the UK, this waiver applies to any goods valued in total under £1,000, if they are imported for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Where the total value of the all the goods is over £1,000, you can only claim preference on those goods for which you can prove the preferential origin.
These waivers do not apply if it is established that the import forms a series of importations that are being made separately to avoid the normal requirements.
Applying for preference using a statement on origin
Relevant Trade and Cooperation Agreement articles:
- Article 40 (page 56) – cumulation of origin
- Article 56 (page 73) – statement on origin
- Article 57 (page 74) – discrepancies
- Article 59 (page 75) – record-keeping requirements
- Article 63 (page 83) – denial of preferential tariff treatment
Statement on origin
One option for claiming preference is for the importer to use a ‘statement on origin’ made out by the exporter. A statement on origin is prescribed text which the exporter adds to the invoice or any other document, including a commercial document, that describes the originating product in enough detail to allow it to be identified. The statement or document may be in an electronic format.
An exporter completing a statement on origin must hold information showing that the product is originating, including information on the originating status of materials used in the production of the product. This may include declarations obtained from their suppliers (suppliers’ declarations).
A statement on origin may apply to either:
- a single consignment
- multiple shipments of identical products within any period specified in the statement on origin but not more than 12 months from the date of the first import
If an exporter completes a statement on origin and later becomes aware that it holds incorrect information, they must let their customer know immediately in writing.
A statement may be made in English or any of the other official languages used in the EU. However, it is best to use the same language used for the document.
The following sections in this guide have more details of requirements about the document, suppliers’ declarations and the exporter.
The text of the statement on origin is shown in Annex 7 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
- must be located in the UK to export to the EU
- must be located in the EU to export to the UK
- can be any person (such as a producer or a trading company) as long as they fulfil the obligations under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the exporter does not need to lodge the customs export declaration in respect of the products – they can appoint a customs representative to act on their behalf
- exports or produces the originating product, and makes out a statement on origin
- is responsible for the correct identification of the originating products on the invoice or any other document, including a commercial document
They will usually be identified on the statement on origin by their exporter reference number. If an exporter’s reference number has not been assigned, the exporter may show their full address under ‘place and date’.
In the EU the exporter’s reference number will be the exporter’s registered exporter (REX) number. These are needed if the exporter exports consignments with a total value of more than 6,000 euros.
In the UK the exporter’s reference number will be the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If you do not have one, you can apply for an EORI number.
The statement on origin must be made out by the exporter. It does not need to give any details of the person issuing the document used for completing the statement. To avoid confusion, it is recommended that the exporter makes out the statement on origin on a document they have issued.
Validity of the statement on origin
A statement on origin may be made out before, at the same time as, or after the products that it relates to are exported. For imports to the UK it will be valid for 2 years from the date it was made out. For exports to the EU it will be valid for 12 months.
The statement on origin must be valid when the claim for preferential tariff treatment is made. This might be either the time when:
- the import declaration in respect of the originating products is accepted by the customs authorities
- an application for repayment or remission of customs duties is submitted
The statement on origin should be made out on an invoice or on any other document, including a commercial document, that describes the originating product in enough detail to allow its identification.
There is no legal definition of what a ‘commercial document’ is, it can be considered as a written record of a commercial transaction. Therefore, apart from the invoice itself, the term covers different types of documents such as a pro-forma invoice, or a shipping document (for example a packing list or delivery note).
The only legal requirement for the invoice or any other document, including a commercial document, to be considered as the basis for a statement on origin, is that it has a detailed enough description of the originating products to allow them to be identified. Other products, which may be included in the same invoice or other commercial document, should be clearly distinguished from the originating products.
Where the exporter (producer or trader) is located in the exporting party but the trader issuing the invoice is established in a non-party country, the statement on origin cannot be made out on that document. The statement on origin should be written on a document, including a commercial document that is issued by the exporter (producer or trader other than the trader established in a non-party country) in the exporting party, such as a delivery note.
A supplier uses a supplier’s declaration to give information to their customer about the originating status of goods, on the specific preferential rules of origin. The supplier is the person who has control and the knowledge of the originating status over the delivered goods.
By completing a supplier’s declaration the supplier declares the originating status of the goods they provide to their customer, who needs this information to make out a statement on origin (the exported goods are either the finished product from the supplier or a product incorporating the delivered material).
When suppliers’ declarations are needed
There are occasions where manufacture on its own is not enough to meet the origin rules, and suppliers’ declarations are needed. For example, if:
- any materials do not change tariff heading
- the value of materials is over the specified limit, for example the origin rule may specify a percentage limit of 40% for non-originating materials, and the total value of materials used is 45% of the ex-works price – you will then need declarations to cover the value of materials in excess of the limit, that is, 5% of the ex-works price
- you manufacture using materials at a later stage of production than that specified, for example using bought-in fabric where the origin rule is manufacture from yarn
- the only processing which you carry out on a product is among the minimal processes listed in Article 43 (page 61) of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement
- you buy and export goods in the same state
When suppliers declarations are not needed
If you are a manufacturer either exporting or supplying your goods, there are certain circumstances where a declaration will not be needed:
- an origin rule may specify that all non-originating materials must change tariff heading (if, during manufacture, all materials change tariff heading then the rule is met without the need for any suppliers’ declarations)
- a percentage rule may specify a limit on the value of non-originating materials (30% or 40%), if the total value of all materials is within this limit, then the rule will be met
- an origin rule may specify manufacture from materials at a certain stage of production, for example manufacture from yarn, if you manufacture using materials at or before the specified stage (for example yarn or pre yarn) then the rule will be met automatically
A supplier’s declaration can be made out to cover a single supply or to cover regular supplies made over a period of time (a long-term supplier’s declaration).
Long-term suppliers’ declarations are one-off declarations valid for supplies delivered during a period up to a maximum of 2 years.
A long-term supplier’s declaration is valid for all the goods mentioned in the supplier’s declaration that are delivered within the specified period. When completing a long-term supplier’s declaration, the originating status of the goods must be confirmed for the whole period that it is valid for.
The supplier should tell the customer of the goods immediately, if the information given in their long-term supplier’s declaration is no longer applicable.
A long-term supplier’s declaration should be made out for consignments dispatched during a period of time and should give the date:
- when the declaration is made out (date of issue)
- of commencement of the period (start date) – which may not be more than 12 months before, or more than 6 months after the date of issue
- of end of the period (end date) – which may not be more than 24 months after the start date
Find more information on suppliers’ declarations.
Easements for businesses
Until 31 December 2021, if you issue a statement on origin for your customer to claim a zero rate on imports into the EU, you do not need to hold a supplier’s declaration at the time you issue the statement.
- be confident that the goods meet the rules of origin
- make every effort to get suppliers’ declarations retrospectively
From 1 January 2022, you must hold a supplier’s declaration (when needed) at the time you issue a statement on origin.
If you do not have a supplier’s declaration, or other information to show the originating status of the goods, for any statements on origin you’ve issued during the easement period (1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021), then there is an obligation on you to let your customer know.
If you’re subject to a request for verification and you cannot provide evidence to show that the goods you exported to the EU originate in the UK, your EU customer will be liable to pay the full rate of Customs Duty.
Bilateral cumulation and suppliers’ declarations
An exporter completing a statement on origin for a product that has benefitted from bilateral cumulation may also need to provide a supplier’s declaration.
For example, where a product has obtained its originating status through cumulating production carried out in the EU on non-originating materials, the exporter of those goods must get a declaration from the supplier of those materials.
This declaration could either be in the form set out in Annex 6 (supplier’s declaration) of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement or an equivalent document that has the same information, describing the non-originating materials concerned in enough detail so they can be identified. As with suppliers’ declarations in the context of intra-UK supply chains, a supplier’s declaration to cover production carried out in the EU may be made out to cover either a single supply or regular supplies made over a period of time.
Where the exported product has obtained its originating status through the cumulation of originating materials, the exporter must hold a statement on origin from the supplier based in the EU.
Record keeping requirements for a statement on origin
An importer making a claim for preferential tariff treatment must keep the statement on origin made out by the exporter for 4 years from the date of importation.
An exporter who has made out a statement on origin must keep, for 4 years from the date it was made out, a copy of the statement on origin and all other records showing that the product satisfies the requirements to get originating status (for example, suppliers’ declarations and invoices).
In both cases, these records can be stored in an electronic format.
A statement on origin can be made to cover to cover multiple shipments of identical products supplied to a customer under the same contract over a 12-month period, instead of separate statements for each individual consignment.
A statement on origin for multiple shipments should give the date:
- when it is made out (date of issue – which should be no later than the start date)
- of commencement of the period (start date)
- of end of the period (end date), which may not be more than 12 months after the date it was made out
A statement on origin for multiple shipments of identical products may be used as a basis for preferential tariff treatment only for those import declarations that are accepted on or between the start date and the end date indicated in the statement.
The importer should keep the documents for the later consignments imported within the validity period for which preferential tariff treatment is claimed, on the basis the statement on origin for multiple shipments.
The documents for later consignments do not need to have a statement on origin.
A statement on origin for multiple shipments must be withdrawn by the exporter if the conditions for its use are no longer fulfilled. The withdrawal must be documented in connection with the original statement on origin for multiple shipments. Once the withdrawal is documented, a new statement on origin must be completed if the delivered products are again originating products.
Applying for preference using importer’s knowledge
- Article 40 (page 56) – cumulation of origin
- Article 58 (page 74) – importer’s knowledge
- Article 57 (page 74) – discrepancies
- Article 59 (page 75) – record-keeping requirements
- Article 63 (page 83) – denial of preferential Tariff treatment
‘Importer’s knowledge’ is an option that allows the importer to claim preferential tariff treatment based on their own knowledge about the originating status of imported products. It can be used as an alternative to a statement on origin provided by the exporter.
As the importer is making a claim using their own knowledge, the exporter or producer does not need to do anything to officially state the originating status of the goods.
As this option requires the importer to have knowledge that the products meet the relevant rules of origin, the exporter or producer may have to provide information about the production to the importer. This may be in addition to other information (such as supporting documents or records) which the importer may already have.
The information could include:
- the Harmonised System (HS) code of the product and origin criteria used
- a brief description of the production process
- if the origin criterion was based on a specific production process, a specific description of that process
- if applicable, a description of the originating and non-originating materials used in the production process
- if the origin criterion was ‘wholly obtained’, the applicable category (such as harvesting, mining, or fishing and the place of production)
- if the origin criterion was based on a value method, the value of the product as well as the value of either all the non-originating or originating, or both, materials used in the production
- if the origin criterion was based on weight, the weight of the product as well as the weight of either the relevant non-originating or originating, or both, materials used in the product
- if the origin criterion was based on a change in the commodity code used to classify goods, a list of all the non-originating materials including their commodity code under the Harmonised System (in 2, 4 or 6-digit format depending on the origin criteria)
- the information relating to the compliance with the provision on non-alteration (if applicable), for example a certificate of non-manipulation from the Customs Authority in the country of transit
If the importer cannot get the information, including when the exporter or producer does not provide the information because it is deemed commercially sensitive, preferential tariff treatment may still be claimed if the exporter issues a statement on origin.
An importer making a claim for preferential tariff treatment must keep all records that show that the product is eligible for preference for 4 years from the date of importation. These records may be stored in an electronic format.
Verification of claims for preferential treatment
Relevant Trade and Cooperation Agreement article:
To verify if a product imported under preference is originating, the importing customs authority may carry out a verification. This may include a request for information from the importer who made the claim for preferential tariff treatment.
Verification may be carried out before or after the release of the goods.
If carrying out a verification before release of the goods, the customs authority may suspend the granting of preferential tariff treatment pending the results. When this happens release of the products should be offered to the importer, subject to a security or guarantee to cover the difference between the preferential and full tariff.
Claims based on a statement on origin by the exporter
For claims based on a statement on origin made out by the exporter in the exporting party, verification is given in the following 2 steps.
The importing party’s customs authority requests the statement on origin from the importer. If the importer has any additional information supporting the fulfilment of origin criteria it can be provided.
Outside of any contractual obligations between the importer and the exporter, there is no obligation for the exporter to provide any further information to the importer.
However, if an exporter receives a request from the importer and prefers to give information at this stage of the verification process, they can do so, either to the importer or to the importing party’s customs authority directly.
By giving information following the request during Step 1 of the verification process, the exporter may avoid being asked for the information by their own customs authority following a request for administrative cooperation as part of Step 2.
Where the importing customs authority needs to further verify the statement on origin or the originating status of the goods, they may request administrative cooperation from the customs authority in the exporting party.
The exporting party’s customs authority must carry out checks on the exporter’s records and processes. This may involve visiting the exporter and confirming the goods’ eligibility to preferential tariff treatment in a written report back to the importing customs authority within 10 months of the request.
A request for administrative cooperation is only possible when the claim preferential tariff treatment is based on a statement on origin.
Claims based on importer’s knowledge
For claims based on importer’s knowledge, verification is given in the following 2 steps.
The importing party’s customs authority requests from the importer no more information than that supporting fulfilment of origin criteria, which is:
- ‘wholly obtained’ – the applicable category (such as harvesting, mining, fishing) and place of production
- based on change in commodity code used to classify goods – a list of all the non-originating materials including their commodity code (in 2, 4 or 6-digit format, depending on the origin criterion in the list rules)
- based on a value method – the value of the final product as well as the value of all the non-originating materials used in the production
- based on weight – the weight of the final product as well as the weight of the relevant non-originating materials used in the final product
- based on a specific production process – a description of that specific process
The importer must respond within 3 months and may add any other information that they consider relevant for verification.
Where importing party’s customs authority needs more information to determine the originating status of the product and following step 1, they may ask the importer to give more information.
The importing party’s customs authority cannot request administrative cooperation from the exporting party’s customs authority, as no statement on origin has been raised by the exporter. Therefore, the importer must be able to show that the product is originating and qualifies for preferential tariff treatment.
This does not necessarily mean that all information should be easily available in the records of the importer at the time the claim for preferential tariff treatment is made, but the importer must be able to supply the necessary information within the time period (3 months under this agreement) of the request for additional information.
Denial of preferential tariff treatment
Under specific circumstances, a claim for preferential tariff treatment maybe denied by either party’s custom’s authority.
A claim for preferential tariff treatment may be denied:
- if the importer does not provide information when requested
- where a request for verification is sent to the exporting customs authority and a reply is not received within 10 months
- the verification report does not contain enough information to determine origin
As long as it does not cause doubt as to the origin of the goods, a claim for preferential tariff treatment will not be rejected:
- due to minor errors or discrepancies in the statement on origin
- for the sole reason that an invoice was issued in a non-party country
The text of the statement on origin (Annex 7 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement)
(Period: from ………………… to ………………… [footnote 1])
The exporter of the products covered by this document (Exporter Reference No … [footnote 2] declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of … [footnote 3] preferential origin.
…………………………………………………………… [footnote 4]
(Place and date)
(Name of the exporter)
- If the statement on origin is completed for multiple shipments of identical originating products within the meaning of point (b) of Article 56 [statement on origin] of this Agreement, indicate the period for which the statement on origin is to apply. That period shall not exceed 12 months. All importations of the product must occur within the period indicated. If a period is not applicable, the field may be left blank.
- Indicate the reference number by which the exporter is identified. For the Union exporter, this will be the number assigned in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Union. For the United Kingdom exporter, this will be the number assigned in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable within the United Kingdom. Where the exporter has not been assigned a number, this field may be left blank.
- Indicate the origin of the product: the United Kingdom or the Union.
- Place and date may be omitted if the information is contained on the document itself.