Guide

Licences and enforcement for international trading

Working with import and export preferences

Take advantage of schemes that allow you to import or export at low or nil rates of duty. The European Union (EU) has a range of preferential trade agreements with third countries, ie countries outside the EU. The agreements enable trading at a reduced rate of duty, or duty-free. To take part in one of these schemes you must 'claim a preference'.

Import preferences allow a wide range of products from outside the EU to be imported into the EU at a reduced or nil rate of duty. Read more aboutĀ using trade preferences.

Export preference arrangements also exist with a number of third countries which in turn grant preferential rates of duty to goods originating in the EU. Read about European Community Preferences: Export Procedures in Notice 827.

For you to qualify for import and export preference schemes, your products must comply with strict rules of origin.

Types of preference scheme

There are two types - autonomous or non-reciprocal, such as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and reciprocal, such as the agreements between the EU and South Africa, Chile, Mexico, Mediterranean countries and European Free Trade Association.

To claim a preference, you'll need to prove the origin of your goods using one of these forms:

  • GSP FORM A - must be used to support claims to preference from GSP countries.
  • EUR 1 Certificate or EUR-MED - must be held or issued for imports and exports under all other preferential arrangements. Find out about EUR1 in Notice 827.

Specifically worded origin declarations and invoices or other commercial documents can be issued or presented for low-value consignments in both the autonomous and reciprocal arrangements. Certain reciprocal preference arrangements also allow approved exporters to issue invoice declarations for consignments of any value.