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EU-UK TCA: Preferential treatment and rules of origin: An Introduction for Businesses

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all trade of EU and UK goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin.

This blog entry can serve as the first point of reference for your business, providing general answers to the most common questions about the preferential rules of origin of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and how they should be applied.

For more detailed and precise information on EU rules, you can join our training:

Rules of origin of the TCA

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.


For a general understanding of the rules of origin of the EU-UK TCA, this 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.

Preferential origin is conferred on goods from countries with which the EU or the UK has signed trade agreements, and which have fulfilled certain criteria in order to benefit from tariff-free trade.

Businesses must be able to demonstrate – among other things – the origin of the goods in order to claim the preferential origin.


In the case of the EU-UK TCA, only goods considered as originating in the EU (i.e. having EU origin) and imported into the UK, or originating in the UK (i.e. having UK origin) and imported into the EU, are entitled to benefit from preferential treatment i.e. zero tariffs, zero quotas.

All other goods (i.e., those mainly manufactured in a non-EU country other than the UK, or which have had insufficient processing in the EU or in the UK) are considered to be non-originating. These non-originating goods will be subject to tariffs (customs duties) in the importing country.

What goods can be considered as “originating”?

In the context of the TCA, in order to claim preferential treatment i.e. not pay duties, the product must originate in the EU or in the UK. Compliance with the origin criteria generally requires that the goods must either

  1. be manufactured from raw materials or components which have been grown or produced in the beneficiary country (i.e. wholly obtained) or, should that not be the case,

  2. at least undergo a specific amount of production in the beneficiary country (i.e. sufficient processing).

Such EU or UK goods are considered to be «originating» and can therefore

benefit from tariff-free trade in the context of the EU-UK TCA.

Such EU or UK goods are considered to be «originating» and can therefore benefit from tariff-free trade in the context of the EU-UK TCA.

What should I do for my products to benefit from the preferences?

In general, the main elements that you need to consider to be sure that the

goods exported from the EU or UK can benefit from preferential tariff treatment

in the UK are:

  • The product that you are exporting needs to be originating in the EU or the UK i.e. the product has to be wholly obtained in the EU/UK, or the production process carried out in the EU/UK has to satisfy a list of requirements.

  • There are several relevant elements that you have to consider to be sure that your product is originating. We can advise further on this.

  • Your product has to be sent directly to the EU/UK, i.e. it has to respect the ‘non-alteration’ rule.

  • The EU/UK importer may require that you provide him/her with a statement on origin, indicating that your product originates in the EU.

  • Your statement on origin should contain the information required under the EU-UK TCA Agreement (Annex 7 TCA (ex-Annex ORIG-4)). This statement should appear on an invoice or on any other document that describes the product well enough for it to be identified.

How do I know if my product is originating?

If you are an EU or UK exporter, you will need to assess whether your product is

originating or not in the event the importer asks you to provide him/her with a statement on origin.

If you are a UK or EU importer, you need to assess if your product is originating

in the case that you are claiming the origin based on your knowledge. If you

are importing based on a statement on origin you will rely on the statement

made by the UK exporter.

The product that you are exporting or importing should either be wholly obtained in the EU (see Article 41 (ex Article ORIG.5) of the TCA) or satisfy the requirements set out in the Product-specific rules of origin (see Annex 3 (ex Annex ORIG-2) of the TCA) to be considered originating.

The experts in Customs Manager Ltd can help you to assess whether your product satisfies the requirements of the Product-specific rules of origin. You need to know the classification code of your product.

Other relevant elements to consider when determining whether your product is originating are elements such as tolerances, cumulation, list of insufficient operations, the use of drawback, etc. You may find a short explanation on these additional elements at the end of this document (Point 10).

How to claim preferential tariff treatment

The importer can claim preferential tariff treatment in the EU or in the UK in

two different ways:

  • by using a statement on origin, or

  • by using ‘importer’s knowledge’.

We can elaborate further on these.

Where to find more help and support

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