Rules of origin and how to use preferential tariffs for trade between the UK and EU

Rules of origin are one of the most important trading requirements you need to understand and meet if your business buys or sells goods internationally. These rules are used in trading agreements between different countries, like the UK’s deal with the EU – called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). The rules are used to determine the country of origin of goods being imported and exported and whether they’re eligible for preferential tariffs. 

The preferential zero tariffs in the UK-EU TCA mean that if you buy goods from the EU and bring them into the UK, and they meet the rules of origin in the TCA, you will not need to pay any Customs Duty on those imports. Your EU customers will be able to do the same for goods they buy from the UK. To benefit from preferential tariffs, you must have proof that:

goods you import into the UK from the EU originate in the EU


goods you export from the UK to the EU originate in the UK.


What is 'origin'

By 'origin' we mean where goods (or the materials, parts or ingredients used to make them) have been produced or manufactured. It is not where the goods have been shipped or bought from. Rules of origin are not the same for all types of goods. Different kinds of goods face different rules and specifications, called product-specific rules, so you need to check the individual rules for your goods.

How to prove the origin of goods traded between the UK and EU

To benefit from preferential tariffs, the rules of origin requirements in the TCA must be met for:

goods imported into the UK from the EU, and


goods imported into the EU from the UK.

UK and EU importers will need to have one of the following proofs of origin:

a statement on origin that the product is originating, made out by the exporter


the importer’s knowledge that the product is originating.


New requirements for supplier declarations from 1‌‌ ‌January‌‌ ‌2022

For some goods, the exporter may also need to hold supplier declarations. Supplier declarations are documents that your supplier provides to you, that help you establish whether the goods you’re exporting meet the product-specific rules of origin. These are needed as supporting evidence to confirm the origin of the goods, when the manufacture alone is not enough to meet the product specific rules of origin.

From 1‌‌ ‌January‌‌ ‌2022, if you make out statements on origin for goods you export to the EU, you must have supplier declarations (where needed) at the time you export your goods.

Between 1‌‌ ‌January and 31‌‌ ‌December‌‌ ‌2021, you have been allowed to export goods to the EU using preferential tariffs without supplier declarations, as long as you were confident that these goods met the rules of origin. This was to allow you more time to get your supplier declarations afterwards. This temporary easement will end on 31‌‌ Dece‌‌mber‌‌ ‌2021 and you must hold supplier declarations for goods you’ve exported this year.

If you cannot provide a supplier declaration, or other suitable evidence, to confirm the UK origin of goods you exported to the EU between 1‌‌ ‌January and 31‌‌ ‌December‌‌ ‌2021, you must let your EU customer know.

If you’re asked to verify the origin of your goods and you can’t provide this supporting evidence:

your EU customer will be liable to pay the full (non-preferential) rate of Customs Duty,


you may be charged a penalty, and


you may be excluded from using preferential tariffs going forward.



4 Eyes Ltd has considerable expertise in all aspects of customs procedures. We would be delighted to review your customs processes and to ensure that these are fully compliant and optimised for the needs of your business. Please contact us if this is of interest.