FAQs: Tariffs and Rules of Origin (RoO) in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement

1) Can I export tariff free under the new UK-EU trade deal?

As of 1 January 2021, goods exported to the EU are eligible for zero tariffs if the goods meet the Rules of Origin requirements set out in the Agreement and have the right documentation. If not, the goods may be subject to EU tariffs.

The same applies for imports to the UK from the EU.

2) What are Rules of Origin?

Rules of Origin determine the ‘economic nationality’ of a good. They are a standard part of free trade agreements (FTAs).

Rules of Origin ensure that only goods produced in the countries party to the FTA (the UK or the EU) benefit from zero tariffs  

3) How do I comply with Rules of Origin?

First, traders need to understand whether their good meets the applicable rules. To do this they need to classify the good to find its Harmonized System Code and then consider the relevant rules for that good. Traders can do this using this online tool: https://www.gov.uk/check-duties-customs-exporting

Second, traders need to understand how to demonstrate origin to the customs authorities and what paperwork they need to include with the good when exported. Traders can self-declare goods meet the rules by making out a statement on origin. Alternatively, the importer can use importer’s knowledge, and traders may need to provide other information. Traders should look at the origin procedures in the text of the Agreement: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948119/EU-UK_Trade_and_Cooperation_Agreement_24.12.2020.pdf

4) What if I am importing goods into GB and then (re-)exporting them to the EU? 

The UK is no longer part of the EU Customs Union. This means that goods imported into GB cannot move freely between GB and EU Member States or vice versa. To be eligible for zero tariff export to the EU, these goods still need to comply with Rules of Origin. This means there must be some production in the UK. This applies to EU origin goods as well as to goods from the rest of world.

If traders move goods through GB from one EU Member State to another without the goods entering UK customs territory (i.e. without entering free circulation in GB), the goods may not need to meet Rules of Origin. 

6) Can I use a customs agent to help me with Rules of Origin?  

Yes. There is guidance available on how to find a customs agent: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/appoint-someone-to-deal-with-customs-on-your-behalf

Compliance remains ultimately the responsibility of the exporter.

7) Do I need a declaration from my supplier? 

If the goods you are exporting incorporate originating materials from a supplier, you may need a declaration from your supplier to meet Rules of Origin requirements.

Until 31 December 2021, exporters may make out statements on origin based on supplier’s declarations even if they do not have all the relevant supplier’s declarations in hand at the time they make the statement on origin. Exporters must be confident that the exported goods meet the Rules of Origin requirements and may be asked to retrospectively provide a supplier’s declaration after this date. 

8) Where can I go for more information?

For full Rules of Origin guidance on trading with the EU, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rules-of-origin-for-goods-moving-between-the-uk-and-eu-

Business Secretary’s letter to the manufacturing sector

Extracts from the Business Secretary’s letter to the manufacturing sector on 11 January 2021:

“As the new Business Secretary, I would like to take this opportunity to restate the
Government position, which is that firms and tradespeople in manufacturing,
including supply chains, should continue to operate during this national lockdown. I
would also like to make it clear that where it is essential to travel or to stay in
accommodation, whether to get to your work or for the purposes of carrying out your
work, those in the industry are able to do so.

It is vital that manufacturing continues and I want to reassure you that the
Government values the contribution your sector is making. Your work in areas such
as aerospace, chemicals, automotive, rail, metals and steel, defence, shipbuilding
and repair, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and many other manufacturing sectors as well
as in delivering vital services, products or materials are critical elements of the
economic recovery we are building and the fight against Covid-19. ”

Read more: Extracts from the Business Secretary’s letter to the manufacturing sector

Business Readiness Bulletin – Brexit: New rules are here

Issue 67: 12 January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the Brexit transition period has ended. There are new rules for businesses doing business with the EU from 1 January, and you need to take action now. All information on Brexit can be found at www.gov.uk/transition. This bulletin is issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and provides the latest information for businesses.

  • Traders must act now
  • Letter from Minister Scully on Covid testing for Hauliers
  • The eCommerce Directive and the UK
  • Trade
  • Moving Goods
  • Business Information
  • Designated Standards
  • Business Support Helpline
  • Data protection and Copyright law
  • Sector specific guidance
  • Webinars and Podcasts

Read more: Business Readiness Bulletin – Brexit – New rules are here – 12 Jan 2021

Summary of existing economic support

The government has spent £280 billion this year on an unprecedented package of economic support to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and public services across the UK.

Read more: Summary of existing economic support

Post Brexit Information/Guidance on Tariffs

The following links provide information and guidance on the listed tariff issues:

  • What is the tariff on [X] from [Y] country?”

Read more: https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

  • “I need help classifying my goods”

Read more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ask-hmrc-for-advice-on-classifying-your-goods

Or for further info, to: classification.enquiries@hmrc.gov.uk

  • “I would like to apply for a suspension or relief”

Read more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/duty-suspensions-and-tariff-quotas

For anything further to: tariffsuspensions@trade.gov.uk

Suspensions or reductions from Customs Duty for UK Trade Tariff

Find out about UK Trade Tariff temporary suspension or reduction of Customs Duty.

Under EU legislation, certain goods benefit from a temporary tariff suspension or reduction of Customs Duty. This guidance explains the background, scope and coverage of these temporary suspensions.

Read more: Suspensions or reductions from Customs Duty for UK Trade Tariff

Notices to exporters

Notices to exporters published by the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU).

Notices to exporters contain important information about:

  • amendments to open general export licences
  • changes to the list of controlled goods
  • updates on legislation and sanctions

Read more: Notices to exporters

Notice to exporters 2021/01: changes to export control legislation and licensing

GOV.UK guidance on export controls was updated on 31 December 2020 to reflect the end of the EU transition period.

The notices to exporters collection brings together all notices published since August 2016.

Read more: Notice to exporters 2021/01: changes to export control legislation and licensing

Protection of Trading Interests (retained blocking regulation)

How UK persons are protected when trading with countries subject to extraterritorial laws.

Read more: Protection of Trading Interests

Rules of Origin

With the signing of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the vast majority of traders moving goods between the UK and EU will avoid paying tariffs on that trade. In order to avoid paying tariffs, all traders must – from 1 January – ‘claim preference’ by way of meeting the relevant rules of origin (RoO) for their products and making a declaration to that effect.

Businesses should ensure that the following actions are carried out as soon as possible so that they are ready to use the Agreement:

  • Check the rules that are applicable to their products to ensure that the products are originating in either the UK or EU and can therefore be traded on preferential terms. The general rules are found in Chapter 2 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the ‘Product Specific Rules of Origin’ are contained in Annex ORIG-2.
  • Consult accompanying GOV.UK guidance [link below]
  • Make sure they and their EU suppliers/customers have agreed whether a claim will be based on an exporter’s declaration or on the importer’s knowledge, informing customs agents as appropriate
  • Get ready to make the appropriate statement on the commercial and customs documentation for all consignments being traded on and after 1 January

The relevant GOV.UK guidance on claiming preference, including links to the Agreement itself and information about customs codes etc., can be found here. This will be supplemented – hopefully later today or tomorrow – with longer-form guidance on RoO in the agreement. This should be linked to from the same webpage as soon as it is published but we will also send it to you in pdf format.

Every business should consult the Agreement itself and the official guidance linked to above before acting.

To benefit from preferential tariffs when importing into the UK from the EU (or importing into the EU from the UK), the importer will be required to declare they hold proof that the goods comply with the rules of origin.

You’ll be entitled to claim the preferential rate of duty if you have either:

  • a statement on origin that the product is originating made out by the exporter
  • the importer’s knowledge that the product is originating

If you’re delaying your declarations for goods imported into the UK from the EU you only need to include the declare a proof of origin when you make your supplementary declaration.

A claim for preferential tariff treatment and the basis for that claim shall be included in the customs import declaration in accordance with the laws and regulations of the importing Party.

If using an exporter’s statement, that statement shall be made out using one of the language versions set out in ANNEX ORIG-4 of the Agreement, in an invoice or on any other commercial document that describes the originating product in sufficient detail to enable the identification of that product. The English language version is below.

The exporter shall be responsible for providing sufficient detail to allow the identification of the originating product. A statement on origin shall be valid for 12 months from the date it was made out or for such longer period as provided by the Party of import up to a maximum of 24 months. A statement on origin may apply to:

  1. a single shipment of one or more products imported into a Party; or
  2. multiple shipments of identical products imported into a Party within the period specified in the statement on origin, which shall not exceed 12 months.


(Period: from___________ to __________ )


The exporter of the products covered by this document (Exporter Reference No … ) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of UK/EU [please choose] preferential origin.


(Place and date)


(Name of the exporter)

[In the EU the Exporter Reference Number will be the exporters Registered Exporter (REX) number.  These are allocated if the exporter is exports consignments with a total value exceeding €6000. In the UK, the Exporter Reference Number will be the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If the statement on origin is completed for multiple shipments of identical originating products within the meaning of point (b) of Article ORIG.19(4) [Statement on Origin] of the Agreement, indicate the period for which the statement on origin is to apply. That period shall not exceed 12 months. Importations of the product must occur within the period indicated. If a period is not applicable, the field may be left blank.]

Here’s the longer format GOV.UK guidance on rules of origin in the UK-EU deal has been published earlier than we had expected: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rules-of-origin-for-goods-moving-between-the-uk-and-eu-from-1-january-2021

If not seen already and you are keen to find out about other aspects of the Deal, the general clauses are summarised here.