Taxation and customs union


This page will be updated following entry into application of the Union Customs Code as soon as possible

What this section contains

There are three parts:

  • Non-preferential origin
  • Preferential origin
  • Customs Unions

If you are not sure what arrangement applies to a particular non-EU country 1, look first at the list of non-EU countries. Note that some countries may benefit from more than one arrangement. In this case, operators may choose which to use.

If you are looking for clarification concerning a specific problem and are not sure where to find the information you need, it might be helpful to consult first the attached checklist. If you still have doubts you should consult your national Customs administration. It is also pointed out that operators who are unsure about the origin of their goods, or who simply want legal certainty, may always apply for a Binding Origin Information decision ( BOI) - see below.

[1] The EU countries are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, The Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

What this section is about: the concept of origin

Origin is the "economic" nationality of goods in international trade. There are two kinds, non-preferential and preferential.

Non-preferential origin confers an "economic" nationality on goods. It is used for determining the origin of products subject to all kinds of commercial policy measures (such as anti-dumping measures, quantitative restrictions) or tariff quotas. It is also used for statistical purposes. Other provisions, such as those related to public tenders or origin marking, are also linked with the non-preferential origin of the products. In addition, the EU's export refunds in the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy are often based on non-preferential origin.

Preferential origin confers certain benefits on goods traded between particular countries, namely entry at a reduced or zero rate of duty.

In either case, an important element in determining the origin of goods is their tariff classification. Goods in trade are identified in the Community by a code number in the Combined Nomenclature (CN) and before trying to determine their origin it is essential that their CN code has been identified.

Movement of goods within Customs unions is not based on their originating status but on the fact that they comply with provisions on free circulation. However, some products in trade with the countries concerned do not fall within the scope of the customs union but remain subject to a preferential treatment based on origin.

Binding origin information (BOI)

BOIs are decisions by the competent authorities, which are binding on the customs authorities in all Member States in respect of goods imported or exported after their issue, provided the goods and the circumstances determining the acquisition of origin are identical in every respect to what is described in the BOI. They are normally valid for three years from the date of issue.

The legal basis is Article 12 CCC and Articles 5 to 14 CCIP.

Application should be made in writing to the competent authorities in the Member State or Member States in which the BOI will be used, or in the Member State in which you are established. For a summary of the information to be provided, see below. The authorities have 150 days from the date when the application is accepted in which to notify the BOI. A list of the authorities responsible for issuing BOIs is published in OJ C106 of 6.4.2011, p.6.

Note that the existence of a BOI does not exempt you from the requirement to provide proof of origin.

Information to be provided in an application for Binding Origin Information

  1. the holder's name and address;
  2. the name and address of the applicant where that person is not the holder;
  3. the applicable legal basis, for the purposes of Articles 22 and 27 CC;
  4. a detailed description of the goods and their tariff classification;
  5. the composition of the goods and any methods of examination used to determine this and their ex-works price, as necessary;
  6. the conditions enabling origin to be determined, the materials used and their origin, tariff classification, corresponding values and a description of the circumstances (rules on change of tariff heading, value added, description of the operation or process, any other specific rule) enabling the conditions in question to be met; in particular the exact rule of origin applied and the origin envisaged for the goods shall be mentioned;
  7. any samples, photographs, plans, catalogues or other documents available on the composition of the goods and their component materials and which may assist in describing the manufacturing process or the processing undergone by the materials;
  8. agreement to supply a translation of any attached document into the official language (or one of the official languages) of Member State concerned if requested by the customs authorities;
  9. any particulars to be treated as confidential, whether in relation to the public or the administrations;
  10. indication by the applicant whether, to his knowledge, binding tariff information or binding origin information for goods or materials identical or similar to those referred to under points (d) or (f) have already been applied for or issued in the Community;
  11. acceptance that the information supplied may be stored on a public-access database of the Commission; however, apart Article 15 CC, the provisions governing the protection of information in force in the Member States shall apply.

Rules of origin "check-list" 

If you are looking for clarification concerning a specific problem this checklist could help you in identifying where you may find the answer.

1.Non-preferential origin:

  • Export from the EU
    • Do I need a proof of origin? Third country requirements can be found on DG Trade - market access database or through their consulates or embassies.
    • Establishing proof of origin: CO by Chamber of Commerce (annex 12 CCIP) or specific certificate model according to special arrangements.
    • What are the origin rules? For rules applied by importing countries, check DG Trade - market access database or their consulates or embassies.
  • Import into EU
    • To checking if goods comply with EU rules (Articles 23 to 25 CCC + Art. 35 to 40 and Annexes 9 to 11 CCIP), see Non-preferential - Introduction (Legal framework) and Harmonisation
    • Submission of proof of origin established in country of export: if required by Community Regulation or special arrangements (e.g. Textiles)
    • What kind of CO is needed?
      • CO for textile products (textile agreement)
      • CO for agricultural products (Art. 55 to 65 + Annex 13 CCIP)
      • CO universal (no specific form but conditions of Art. 47 CCIP)

2.Preferential origin:

  • What customs duties and equivalent charges are applicable? This is a tariff and not an origin issue: see Taric
  • Questions about policy measures like anti-dumping or quota? See the relevant legislation.
  • Originating status? This may concern one or more of the following elements: list rules / cumulation / minimal operations / general tolerance rule
  • Is drawback possible? See no drawback rule.
  • What territorial or transport rules apply? See principle of territoriality / direct transport rule
  • Questions about proof of originating status? See proof of origin / approved exporter / proof of origin / exemption from presentation / administrative co-operation / validity