top of page

EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA) for Newcomers: How to secure free trade - PART 1

In this two-part series, we take a step-by-step introductory approach to understanding free trade between the UK and the EU. Ideal for newcomers to trade agreements.

In Part 1 we focus on fundamentals and create basic understanding. In Part 2 we introduce the key principles of so, called "Rules of Origin". Study both parts to get a great overview of the key principles behind how to secure free trade with the EU.


  • Introduction

  • The first word on UK-EU preferential rules of origin

  • A qualifying level of processing

  • Read the details in the TCA

  • Most Favoured Nation

  • Other ways to enter the EU or UK without payment of duty


The EU and the UK have moved to trading based on a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

The first word on UK-EU preferential rules of origin

To export tariff-free under the TCA, goods must meet the UK-EU preferential rules of origin.




A qualifying level of processing

This means that there must be a qualifying level of processing in the country of export to access zero tariffs.

This applies to EU origin goods imported and moving through the UK from an EU member state to another EU member state, as well as goods imported from outside the UK or EU.

Read the details in the TCA

These rules are set out in the TCA and determine the origin of goods based on where the products or materials (or inputs) used in their products come from.

Their purpose is to make sure that preferential tariffs are only given to goods that originate in the UK or EU, and not from countries outside the UK and the EU member states.



Access instantly and what on-demand

Recording of the analysis of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, with a focus on the rules of origin and how to secure free trade within the rules.


Most Favoured Nation

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 - also known as ‘Most Favoured Nation’ - tariffs that the EU and UK apply to imports. For exports to the EU, this will be their Common External Tariff. For imports to the UK, this will be the UK Global Tariff.

For some goods, these ‘Most Favoured Nation’ standard tariffs may be low or zero, but for many other goods, they can be much higher.

Businesses will need to decide if it is in their interest to meet (and to prove that they meet) the rules of origin to benefit from the TCA’s zero tariffs.

Other ways to enter the EU or UK without payment of duty

Returned Goods Relief

For goods that were imported from the EU or the UK and are being returned or redistributed in the EU or the UK without obtaining EU/UK origin, the importer in the EU / UK may be able to claim Returned Goods Relief. Read our dedicated blog entry on Returned Goods Relief (RGR):

Transit or Customs Warehousing

If goods entered the UK under the internal Transit procedure (T2) and have not been entered into any customs procedure other than Transit or Customs Warehousing, they may be able to retain their original country status. This will mean that customs formalities, including duties and taxes, in the country of import, can be avoided.




About Customs Manager Ltd.

We are on a mission to empower people with import, export and transport responsibilities with helpful advice, insightful training and relevant trade intelligence services. We offer consultancy and expert advice, training (live, in-house and on-demand), support for your import and export business and customs clearance/broker services into the UK (Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. We devote all our passion and energy to helping businesses grow faster cross-border. Working with us means having your own multilingual Customs Manager on standby to help you trade effectively, efficiently and, of course, compliantly, wherever you want to go in the world. We even file customs declarations for you.

Join us on social media

Hey, I got told I need to subscribe and pay to ready your expert blogs! Where is my free stuff?

Well, remember the old saying, there is no such thing as a free lunch! Expert content creation takes time and effort, not even mentioning the years of learning and studying the geeky subjects of customs, export controls and free trade agreements. So, if you like what we are doing, please help out and subscribe to our annual plan, allowing you to access expert content for a low price affordable to any business and any customs manager / global trade professional.

As a Premium Subscriber, you get VIP treatment and access to new, fresh content every week. You also get access to the entire library of advice, more than 400 blog entries and counting. We also monitor legislation for you and let you know of all the changes, so you never miss an important legal change. At the same time, you save valuable time by engaging our dedicated trade specialists to carry the monitoring out for them. Premium subscribers also unlock all other content on the Customs Manager’s Ltd. website, including our hubs and resources helping you to stay compliant in daily tasks. Being a paying subscriber provides you with vital thought leadership development to empower you to trade effectively, efficiently and, of course, compliantly, across borders. And if you want us to cover other countries than the EU, UK and a bit of the US, then just ask. Reach out in the chat or by email.

Important Notice

Customs Manager Ltd. owns the copyright in this information.

You are not allowed to use this information in any way that infringes the intellectual property rights in it. You may have to hold a valid licence to use this information. A licence can be obtained by becoming a Premium subscriber to the Customs Managers’ Trade Intelligence service. As a Premium subscriber, you may download and print this information which you may then use, copy or reproduce for your own internal non-profit-making purposes.

However, under no circumstances are you permitted to use, copy or reproduce this information with a view to profit or gain.

In addition, you must not sell or distribute this information to third parties who are not members of your organization, whether for monetary payment or otherwise.

This information is intended to serve as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a Customs Manager Ltd. professional.

In no circumstances will Customs Manager Ltd, be liable for any decision made or action was taken in reliance on the information contained within this document or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

bottom of page