1. General information
This explains briefly what tariff quotas are, how they are administered, how information about them is set out in the UK Trade Tariff and where more detail can be obtained.
Tariff quotas are a form of European Union (EU) preference under which limited amounts of certain goods may be admitted to free circulation at reduced or nil rates of Customs Duty and/or Common Agricultural Policy charges. The limit may be expressed in units of weight, volume, quantity or value.
1.3 National allocation
Quotas are set for the whole of the EU, and claims are granted on a first come first served basis. Most quotas are controlled entirely by the European Commission (EC).
Under article 308c of Commission Regulation 2454/93 (Customs Code Implementing Provisions) a Tariff quota shall be considered, after the first allocation, as non-critical (ie open) in cases where a tariff quota for the same products and origins:
- opened in each of the last 2 years for a minimum period of 6 months
- was not exhausted before the last working day of the 7th month of its quota period during those 2 years
- the initial volume of the quota is not less than each of those of the last 2 years
In all other cases the quotas must be considered to be critical. In cases where the quota is, critical or an open quota has become critical goods eligible to tariff quota relief may only be released against security for any duty legally due outside of the quota. Security may be given either by cash deposit or guarantee.
1.5 Exhausted quotas
When the full quota allocation has been utilised, the quota is exhausted and the appropriate non-quota duty rate is payable. When a quota has exhausted information will be sent by fax to quota scheduling points. Please also note that some quotas are seasonal and the quota rate can’t be claimed for consignments imported outside the quota period.
1.6 Proof of origin
Some quotas are restricted to goods from particular countries or groups of countries. When this is the case, claimants must produce the appropriate certificate of origin or movement certificate. For some quotas extra documents may need to be produced. Details of documentary proof required are included in the UK Trade Tariff.
1.7 Import licensing requirements
Tariff quotas shouldn’t be confused with import licensing quotas, which also exist for certain categories of goods. The former permit importation at preferential rates of duty up to the quota limits shown in the UK Trade Tariff, thereafter, importation may continue, but at the appropriate non-quota rate of duty.
Import licensing quotas however establish strict limits on the total amounts of certain categories of goods which may be imported from specific countries over a given period. This is regardless of whether full or preferential rates of duty are applicable during that period. For further information on import licensing requirements see Import prohibitions and restrictions.
2.1 Trade policy
Requests for information on industrial tariff quotas, other than balance enquiries, should be made to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The DTI decides whether new requests to open a quota or requests to increase the level of an existing quota should be forwarded to the EC.
Department for Business Innovation and Skills publish further information about tariff quotas or alternatively you can contact:
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Trade Defence Unit
1 Victoria Street
Telephone: 020 7215 5044
Fax: 020 7215 2234
Telephone: 020 7215 5319
Fax 020 7215 2234
2.2 Control of current Tariff quotas
Responsibility for administering claims to quota rests with:
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
Tariff Quota Management Team
10th Floor South East
21 Victoria Avenue
Up to the minute information can’t be given about quota balances. HMRC can therefore give no guarantee that a claim will be successful even though the balance might seem plentiful at the time of enquiry. Importers must take this into account when assessing import costs.
Information on current quota balances is also available on the European Commission website.
Quota information on the internet appears under the Commission’s Order Number. The Tariff Quota Management Team (TQMT) at Southend will help you if you do not have this information.
2.3 Acceptance of claims
Quota claims are dealt with on a first come, first served basis, by reference to the date of acceptance of the customs entry.
2.4 Banded period and banded quotas
To ensure equity, acceptance of a quota request by customs on 1, 2 or 3 January shall be regarded as acceptance on 3 January. However if one of those days falls on a Saturday or Sunday, such acceptance shall be regarded as having taken place on 4 January (banded period).
Certain quotas which may be expected to exhaust within a few days of opening may be considered banded. In these circumstances all claims lodged before a deadline previously announced by HMRC are considered to have been presented simultaneously. If the volume of the claims made within that period exceeds the quota available, allocation of the relief is made on a pro-rata basis. Similarly if 2 or more claims are made on the date of exhaustion of a non-banded quota the relief is also allocated pro-rata.
2.5 Claiming quota relief
It is a legal requirement that a formal claim for quota relief must be lodged and a failure to do so may result in loss of relief. The claim should be made at the time the goods are declared to HMRC for release to free circulation and any documents or other evidence required to substantiate the relief is available or has been complied with. In cases where documents or evidence aren’t available or a request has, for whatever reason, not been made, belated claims may be made against the quota providing the quota has not in the meantime already been exhausted. Any belated claim must be made in writing to:
National Duty Repayment Centre
3 Stanley Street
The date of claim will be the date of release to free circulation. Claims must not be sent direct from the importer or agent to the CTQU. These claims will be returned immediately to sender.
2.6 Procedure at import
Details of how to claim quota relief when entering a transaction on the single administrative document (form C88) are in imports and community transport inwardsand declaration for removal from customs warehouse regime.
3. Quota information in the UK Trade Tariff
3.1 Detail on the tariff line
Goods eligible for quota relief are individually described and coded in the UK Trade Tariff.
The presence of a quota line must not be taken as implying that the quota is still open. The latest known position can be obtained by contacting the TQMT in Southend.
3.2 Additional information
It‘s not practicable to include all information relating to a quota within the tariff line in the schedule.
Supplementary information has therefore been included at the end of each section. Detail shown there against the relevant commodity code includes:
Quota order number
This is the reference which identifies the tariff quota for claims purposes. It must be inserted on the customs import declaration in Box 39.
The reduced rate is shown here. Where no rate is shown the quota rate is nil.
The opening and closing dates for the quota are shown here when the quota period is other than the full calendar year.
Normally the same unit of quantity or value as for duty purposes. The details must be entered on the single administrative document (form C88) according to the procedure set out in Volume 3.
Country of origin
Where a quota is restricted to particular countries or groups of countries, details are included here.
Details of documents required to support origin will be shown here. Where the quota applies to all non-Community countries no evidence of origin is required. EUR movement certificate can be in the form of a valid invoice declaration.
Quotas for certain hand-made products
Certain goods of various tariff classifications up to a total annual value of 1.2 million euro originating in 23 countries may be eligible for duty-free admission into the European Union.
The countries are:
- El Salvador
- Sri Lanka
These products are referred to in the UK Trade Tariff as the group of 23.
The items covered are shown in the UK Trade Tariff and are indicated by ‘hand-made’ against each tariff heading concerned. Further details can be obtained from the CTQU. In order to be eligible the goods must be either:
- cottage industry products made entirely by hand
- cottage industry products which have the character of products made by hand
- garments, or other textile products obtained manually from fabrics woven on looms operated solely by hand or foot and essentially sewn by hand or by sewing-machines operated solely by hand or foot
Access to these quotas shall be restricted to products accompanied by a certificate of authenticity recognised by the relevant Community authorities certifying that the goods in question are hand-made and recognised as hand-made by HMRC.
3.3 Quotas for certain handloom fabrics
Certain fabrics of various tariff classifications originating in 12 countries may be eligible for duty-free entry admission into the European Union.
The countries are:
- El Salvador
- Sri Lanka
These products are referred to in the UK Trade Tariff as the group of 12.
The items covered are shown in the Schedule in the UK Trade Tariff and are indicated by the words ‘manufactured on hand-looms’ against each tariff heading concerned. Further details can be obtained from CTQU. In order to be eligible goods must:
- be woven on looms moved exclusively by hand or foot
- be covered by a certificate of manufacture in a prescribed form given by a recognised authority in the country of origin
- carry (at the end of each piece of fabric) either a stamp approved by the recognised authority or a single approved lead seal
- be carried direct from the country of manufacture to the European Union
Access to these quotas shall be restricted to products accompanied by a certificate of authenticity recognised by the relevant EU authorities certifying that the goods in question are manufactured on hand-looms and recognised as such by HMRC.
3.4 Reimported textiles processed in Switzerland
An EU tariff quota (092501) provides for the duty-free re-importation of certain textile yarns and fabrics under tariff chapters 50 to 60. These goods must have been exported from the EU to undergo certain specific processes in Switzerland and be returned. The UK has no automatic share in this quota but drawings may be made by the TQMT from the EU reserve as required. The yearly quota period is from 1 September to 31 August. Applications to claim this quota must be made in writing to the TQMT before importation.
4. The ceiling system
The EU may fix quantitative ceiling levels limiting the total quantity of certain goods which may be imported into the EU at preferential rates under association agreements between the EU and Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech and Slovak Republics and Slovenia during a calendar year. In some instances, these ceilings are applied only to goods originating in certain countries, states or territories.
Ceilings are not pre-allocated to member states. They are administered and monitored on an EU-wide basis by the EC in Brussels. When importations into the EU reach the ceiling level, any member state may request reimposition of the full non-preferential rate of duty either immediately or at any time thereafter. The Commission may also act to reimpose duty. Otherwise the full rate of duty remains suspended and the preferential rate continues even though the ceiling level is exceeded.
4.3 Reimposition of duty
The EC is required to give member states 3 days’ notice of reimposition of duty.
This period can include weekends and public holidays (the latter are not standardised within the EU) duty can in effect be re- imposed virtually without warning. Reimposition of the full rate of duty does not affect the entitlement of the goods to a reduced or zero rate under other preference arrangements. For details of other preference arrangements available to certain countries see trade arrangements for countries outside the EU.
4.4 Information about reimposition
Immediately upon receipt of an advice from the EC, all customs staff at ports and airports are notified of the effective date of duty reimposition. Up-to-date information may be obtained from any Customs office or from:
Tariff Quota Management Team (TQMT)
10th Floor East
21 Victoria Avenue
Please refer to trade arrangements for countries outside the EU for details.
4.5 Implications for importers/agents
Importers and/or agents intending to enter goods under preference subject to a ceiling should consult customs notice boards where information on duty reimposition is displayed and make enquiries at any customs office. They should not assume that the preferential rate of duty will be available. It’s the responsibility of the importer to ensure entries are correct and if, at a later date, checks disclose that any claim to preference is invalid, HMRC are required by law to demand any duty due, notwithstanding that some considerable time after importation may have elapsed.
4.6 Belated claims
Where preference is withdrawn from a specified date, a belated claim or claim supported by evidence produced on or after that date cannot be allowed.
5. More information
5.1 Published information
A fuller explanation of the tariff quota system is given in Notice 375. Importers are urged to obtain and read a copy if they wish to take advantage of this tariff concession.
5.2 Written and telephone enquiries
Advice concerning quotas can be obtained from HMRC (but not VAT) offices. Alternatively guidance is available from HMRC or DTI as appropriate at the addresses shown in earlier paragraphs.