Guidance on the application of the TCA: preferential treatment and rules of origin
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the EU and the UK have begun a new and ambitious relationship, serving as a cornerstone for future trade relations. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which provisionally entered into force on 1 January 2021, provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all trade of EU and UK goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin.
Rules of origin are an important aspect of any free trade agreement such as the TCA. Yet while the requirements and procedures for claiming preferential treatment can be complex, without them zero-tariff trade cannot be guaranteed for the bilateral exchanges of EU and UK goods.
To assist EU businesses importing from and exporting to the UK, the European Commission has actively engaged with Member States and industry to develop a range of guidance on preferential treatment, rules of origin and customs procedures within the framework of the new relationship with the UK. This guidance aims to be comprehensive and accessible for all traders.
- For a summary of the procedures to successfully import or exports good to or from the UK, the Checklists for EU businesses will provide the 10 “must dos” of any business looking to import from or export to the UK.
- The Commission has also put together a compendium of questions and answers received on matters relating to the TCA rules of origin. Organised by topic (identification of the exporter, importer’s knowledge, statement on origin, supplier’s declaration, distribution centres etc.), the compendium addresses real business concerns and explains how the rules apply in each specific case. Please note that the compendium is illustrative of specific business cases and that the answers provided are given on a case-by-case basis.
Rules of origin of the TCA
- For a general understanding of the rules of origin of the EU-UK TCA, the Introduction to Rules of Origin will provide an overview of the various rules of origin elements to be taken into consideration when importing or exporting to or from the UK.
- For detailed guidance on the TCA rules and origin procedures, the updated Guidance on TCA Section II: origin procedures provides a thorough detailed presentation and commentary of the relevant legislation. Compared to the previous version, this new version takes into account the new numbering of the provisions in the TCA, clarifies the point on Statements on origin including for multiple shipments, adds a point on Supplier’s declarations and provides additional information on origin quota derogations.
- To clarify the meaning of “insufficient production”, to interpret it properly and to illustrate it through several examples, you can consult the guidance on insufficient production.
- For the application of the origin quota derogations, you can consult the new Implementing Regulation regarding the implementation of tariff quotas that was adopted and published in May 2021.
Transitional arrangements concerning the availability of supplier’s declarations for the issuance of proofs of origin
EU exporters should be aware that:
In 2021, under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, EU exporters could make out statements on origin based on supplier’s declarations even in the absence of complete documentation, provided that they were able to have such complete documentation by the end of the year.
This transitory period comes to an end on 31 December 2021 and will not be extended. By 1 January 2022, exporters must possess all relevant suppliers’ declarations. Exporters who fail to do so must inform importers of this fact no later than on 31 January 2022.
EU importers should be aware that:
The United Kingdom has also been applying a transitory period with equal duration that will not be extended either.
Use of UK distribution centres
- For specific questions on using distribution centres based in the UK, our Guidance on the use of distribution centres will take you through various scenarios.
- You might find useful also our general guidance on the returned goods provision of the EU Customs Code (not specific to the EU-UK TCA)
- And our general guidance on customs formalities for return-refill container systems and accessories in cross border trade (not specific to the EU-UK TCA).
Information for EU traders regarding the optional deferral of UK import procedures in 2021
The UK Government has provided some flexibility to UK traders that EU traders should be aware of: up until 31 December 2021, authorised UK importers have the possibility of deferring their import formalities for up to 175 days from the date of entry of the goods in the UK. EU exporters may be required to make out a statement on origin when the import procedures will need to be completed by the UK importers.
As of 1 January 2022, UK importers will no longer be able to benefit from the delayed import declarations, which will be required at the points of entry into the UK (if authorised, the importers will still benefit from simplified customs procedures). This deferral system expires at the end of 2021, except with respect to exports from the Republic of Ireland (see The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) (No.2) Regulations 2021 and The Customs Importation (Miscellaneous Provisions and Amendment) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
New import formalities to bring goods from the EU into the UK as of 1 January 2022
At the end of 2021, the UK Government published two new versions of the Border Operating Model (B.O.M), which is a guide on how the border works with the European Union. A new update of the B.O.M in 2022 is expected to postpone the entry into application of some customs checks and controls on imports from the EU into the UK until the end of 2023. For further details on the B.O.M and UK import formalities, please consult:
Information for EU traders regarding the ‘EU code’ in UK customs declarations
Further to the notices published by the UK in February and 2 March 2022 on the use of the ‘EU code’ in the UK import declarations lodged in CHIEF, operators are informed that under the EU-UK TCA, there is no obligation for EU exporters to provide a Member State as country of origin. Under the TCA, the “EU origin” is the only relevant origin that has to be provided in the statements on origin for exports from the EU to the UK. For further information, please consult the UK Press notice: Clarification to Stop Press Notice 4 (Tariff stop press notice 5) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
A central complaint point for the EU-UK TCA has been set up to ensure centralised and efficient monitoring of the implementation of the Agreement. It can re-direct your complaint to the appropriate service of the Commission and is available here.
For Trade related complaints, you can also directly use DG TRADE’s dedicated form.