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HMRC provide EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (EU-UK TCA) clarification

Rules of origin is a complex subject within trade, so it’s important that exporters and importers understand its impact on the goods they ship. Customers need to have the relevant records to support a preference claim and provide the correct statements on invoices/packing lists.


HMRC are aware that forwarders have been asked questions on this matter by their customers who, due to being unfamiliar with this subject, require additional clarity on some of the current guidance.

This article focuses on the three main points to consider on this subject and highlight relevant guidance on GOV.UK that will be useful for BIFA Members.

Between 1‌‌ ‌January and 31‌‌ ‌December‌‌ 2021 there has been an easement on the requirement for exporters to hold supplier declarations at the time they issue statements on origin. This gave businesses more time to get supplier declarations in place, but was conditional on the grounds that exporters issuing statements on origin:

  • are confident that the goods meet rules of origin
  • obtain the supplier declarations from their UK suppliers retroactively by 31 December 2021

From 1 January 2022, if a supplier declaration is needed to support the preferential status of the goods, businesses must hold these at the time that they issue a statement on origin.

The three most important elements to be aware of regarding preference claims are:

Supplier Declarations

These are documents that suppliers provide to help establish whether the goods being exported 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.

UK businesses should obtain supplier declarations from:

  • UK suppliers – in two cases:
    • If the supplied goods are simply being exported under preference without any changes to them
    • If the supplied materials are likely to be incorporated into other goods that are then exported from the UK under preference
  • EU exporters – if the materials or goods imported from the EU do not meet the TCA rules of origin, so cannot claim the preferential tariff, but some production has been carried out on them in the EU.

If the UK business plans to use those materials in the production of goods they want to export to the EU under preference, they can ask the EU exporter to issue a supplier declaration for non-originating goods with the details of the EU processing that has taken place. The UK producer can then include the EU production towards meeting the rules of origin, to apply bilateral cumulation to export the final product back to the EU under preference.

Statements On Origin

To benefit from preferential tariffs when importing into the UK from the EU (or exporting to the EU from the UK) the importer needs to declare how they know the goods qualify for a preferential duty rate. One of the primary methods of evidencing this is the statement on origin completed by the exporter on the export invoice or as an annual statement.

Importer’s Knowledge

In the EU-UK TCA, an importer can claim preference using knowledge they (the importer) hold about the manufacturing/production process of the goods they import. This can be used instead of a statement on origin, but the information held by the importer must be more detailed than just a supplier’s declaration, as it must include details of the origin/value of the goods/input materials and production processes applied to them.


Help and Support

We refer to the following specific HMRC Guidance relating to proving and declaring the correct origin for goods.

Get proof of origin for your goods: Get proof of origin for your goods - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Using a supplier’s declaration to support a proof origin: Using a suppliers’ declaration to support a proof of origin - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Claiming preferential rates of duty between the UK and EU: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claiming-preferential-rates-of-duty-between-the-uk-and-eu

Articles 54-64 and the supporting Annexes (especially Annexes 6 & 7) of the EU-UK TCA provide additional information on this subject. For further support, you or your customers can also contact the UK government export support team online or by phone.


Key points for freight forwarders

  • Check the guidance you have already issued to ensure that it is accurate.
  • If you are doing a UK declaration on an indirect representation basis for a customer not established in the UK, or an EU based company making preference claims at import, make sure they are aware of their legal obligations
  • Make sure that if your customers’ imported goods don’t comply with the rules of origin, they can’t claim the preferential tariff. As their indirect representative, you would have liability for any additional duties to be paid

BIFA thanks HMRC for providing this clarification.

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