Guide

Trade preference agreements

Eligibility for import preferences

If you import goods, you must be clear on where the products have 'originated' in order to manage duty and customs requirements effectively.

The origin of your goods is either where they have been wholly obtained or produced or where the last significant work essential to the manufacture was undertaken.

Every stage of the supply chain can have a significant effect on whether you can import the goods using preferences. If goods are manufactured entirely in one country, you would expect their origin to be that country. However, if components are made in one country then assembled in another non-European Union (EU) country, in combination with other components, the country of origin may be where the goods are assembled. See rules of origin.

You can use preferences for goods coming into the EU that 'originate' from many countries, the following being a list of the main countries:

  • Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • the Faroe Islands
  • Andorra - only for specific goods as outlined in the Tariff
  • Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia
  • Ceuta and Melilla
  • Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria
  • Israel
  • the West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • the Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo
  • Montenegro
  • Croatia
  • Macedonia
  • African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) - included within the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements
  • Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) of European Community (EC) member states - eg Aruba, an OCT of the Netherlands, the Falkland Islands, a British OCT, or French Polynesia, an OCT of the French Republic
  • Mexico
  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
 
You can find a more complete list of countries - and the preferences that apply - in Volume 1 Part 7 of the HMRC printed Tariff. However, if your business requires that you keep abreast of detailed changes on an EPA, country-by-country or product-by-product basis, you are advised to check the list of Customs Information Papers.

Preferences with these countries are normally part of bilateral treaties - the individual treaties with each of these countries.

The Generalised System of Preference (GSP) allows goods from developing countries easier access to EU markets through reduced rates of duty. GSP preferences in contrast to the list above are autonomous, ie the rules apply to imports into the EU only. Read more about the Generalised System of Preferences and GSP+.

Once you're sure about the origin of your goods, you can manage the process of importing them under preference. See managing import preferences.

Access the UK Trade Tariff.