Skip to main content
Taxation and Customs Union

Prohibitions and Restrictions

Customs authorities and other authorities carry out controls at the Union borders to enforce many different requirements under sectoral policies. These requirements are known as ‘prohibitions and restrictions’ (P&R). 

Subject matter & scope

Customs authorities and other authorities carry out controls at the Union borders to enforce many different requirements under sectoral policies. These requirements are known as ‘prohibitions and restrictions’ (P&R). In accordance with Articles 134 and 267 of Union Customs Code, P&R may be imposed on goods when they are justified on grounds of:

  • public morality, public policy or public security,
  • the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants,
  • the protection of the environment,
  • the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value and
  • the protection of industrial and commercial property,
  • including controls on drug precursors, goods infringing certain intellectual property rights and cash

Fishery conservation and management measures and commercial policy measures are not P&R, although their implementation is an intrinsic dimension of customs supervision, as also established by Articles 134 and 267 UCC.

Integrated EU P&R List

All these P&R are scattered all over in the EU legislation. In order to help identify the applicable P&R, the European Commission has published an indicative “Integrated EU P&R List” which provides a practical tool for dealing with P&R. It is non-exhaustive, non-binding and is subject to a detailed legal notice (see cover of the document).

Expert Group on Prohibitions and Restrictions

Harmonised implementation of border controls requires smooth and close cooperation between EU countries, as well as between Customs and other competent authorities. The European Commission has set up an expert group bringing together experts from the Member States Customs, to work on:

  • protection of health, cultural heritage, the environment and nature; and
  • product safety and compliance controls.

The overarching objective of the Expert Group is to increase safety and security and to protect citizens and the environment. Its operational objective is to support the preparation, the coherent application and the effective implementation by customs of Union policy and legislation imposing prohibitions or restrictions that protect the health and life of humans, animals, plants or national treasures.

Chaired by the Commission, the Expert Group gathers national customs experts in the field of Prohibitions and Restrictions. All Commission services in charge of legislations that trigger border measures are invited to update customs representatives on recent developments. Customs representatives are also consulted by the Commission on issues related to the customs enforcement of prohibitions and restrictions as provided for in non-customs legislation.

The Expert Group contributes among other priorities, to:

  • raising awareness on the customs responsibilities related to the control of prohibitions and restrictions;
  • the exchange of views, experience, knowledge and best practice on the practical implementation of the referred policy areas;
  • developing common approaches for customs controls in these areas;
  • the exchange of experience, knowledge and best practices on coordination between customs administrations and between customs administrations and competent national authorities responsible for the different policy areas at stake;
  • the development of risk criteria for customs controls to be carried out in these areas;
  • providing input for the elaboration of guidance documents to assist the customs administrations in performing checks in non-fiscal areas;
  • the ability to immediately address crisis situations together with Member States customs experts where necessary;
  • providing information at an early stage about upcoming legislative initiatives from different Commission services with an impact on customs.

For more information on the Expert Group, please consult the Expert Group Register.