Last reviewed 4 January 2021

Following publication of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the Government has produced guidance on an important section of particular relevance to traders moving goods between the UK and EU.

This concerns the rules of origin requirements in the TCA, which determine the origin of goods based on where the products or materials (or inputs) used in their production come from.

Their purpose is to ensure that preferential tariffs are only given to goods that originate in the UK or EU and not from third countries (those apart from UK and the EU Member States).

Goods that do not meet the rules of origin can still be traded but they will not be able to benefit from preference under the TCA and may have to pay the standard “Most Favoured Nation” (MFN) tariffs that the EU and UK apply to imports under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

For exports to the EU, this will be the Union’s Common External Tariff (CET); for imports to the UK, this will be the UK Global Tariff.

The guide explains that the rules of origin provisions in the TCA are in two parts: General, and Product-specific rules of origin (PSRs). The latter are specific rules that set out, for every product based on its Harmonised System (HS) code, what the requirements are for that product to be considered “originating”.

The detailed 37-page guide, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rules-of-origin-for-goods-moving-between-the-uk-and-eu-from-1-january-2021?utm_source=92da08c0-7a27-40fc-a883-8d863476306f, explains how to check that goods meet the rules of origin and how to claim preferential treatment under the TCA.

Including numerous examples, it also gives details of statements on origin, rules for small consignments of goods, supplier’s declarations and applying for preference using importer’s knowledge.

One year’s relief

Of particular interest to traders, the guide mentions under the heading “Easements for business under the TCA” that: “For UK-EU trade, until 31 December 2021, businesses do not need supplier’s declarations from business suppliers in place when the goods are exported but they must be confident that the goods do meet the TCA preferential rules of origin. Businesses may be asked to retrospectively provide a supplier’s declaration after this date.”

Effectively, this gives a year’s grace period on certifying the origin of components that make up manufactured goods.