Rules of origin

The EU has special agreements or arrangements in place with its partner countries for preferential tariffs, which also include specific rules of origin to determine when a product is considered originating in the partner country. In these circumstances the product receives preferential tariff treatment.

The rules of origin applied to each partner country under the different agreements are not identical, although they are all based on the same concepts. Thus, each preferential regime has a specific set of rules of origin attached, which you need to consult as follows

  • My Trade Assistant lists the product specific rules for the selected market
  • for an overview of the particularities of the general principles, provisions and the applicable procedures read more in the Non-EU Markets section

Read more for an explanation of the basic principles.

Origin procedures

Proof of origin

A proof of origin is an international trade document which certifies that goods included in a consignment originate from a particular country or territory. Certificates of origin shall accompany the Customs Import Declaration (or Single Administrative Document, SAD) when provided to the EU Customs Authority.

The originating status of the goods may be proved by either

  • a certificate of non-preferential origin. It certifies that the country of origin of the goods does not qualify for preferential treatment - these certificates are normally issued by the chambers of commerce
  • a certificate of preferential origin - it allows goods to benefit from reduced or nil duties when they are imported from a non-EU country the EU has a preferential agreement with

These certificates must be issued by the customs authorities of the exporting country and shall be presented at the time of customs clearance.

Which type of certificate to use is determined by each preferential agreement: Form A (for GSP regime), EUR MED (for some concrete cases in the PEM system) or €1 (all the rest of the cases).

Alternatively, for consignments up to €6,000 exporters may issue an invoice declaration regardless of the trade partner country. For consignments above €6,000 invoice declarations are only accepted when issued by a so-called approved exporter.  

A particular case of invoice declarations is the REX system:

The REX system is based on a principle of self-certification by economic operators who issue themselves so-called “statements on origin”.

A statement on origin is a declaration of origin added by the registered exporter on the invoice or any other commercial document. The text of the statement on origin is given in Annex 22-07 of the UCC IA (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447 (OJ L-343 29/12/2015) (CELEX 32015R2447).

To be entitled to make out a statement on origin, economic operators have to be registered in a database by the competent authorities of their country of origin. Following this registration the economic operator will become a "registered exporter".

Information on the registered exporter's data is published on the EU´s specific pages about REX . On this page companies can verify the validity of the registrations of those registered exporters who submit statements on origin.

Note that for consignments of a value less than €6,000, the statement of origin can be made with no obligation for registration.

Progressive implementation of the REX System

The REX system is progressively replacing the current system based on certificates of origin issued by governmental authorities and on invoice declarations made out by economic operators.

It has been first and gradually applied for the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). See its current state of implementation and the list of countries applying it here.

Binding Origin Information (BOI)

If you are unsure about the origin of your goods, or simply want legal certainty, you may apply for a Binding Origin Information decision (BOI).

BOI decisions are binding on the holder and on the EU customs authorities. They are valid – and binding – after their issue, provided the goods and the circumstances described when applying for a BOI decision are identical in every aspect.  They are normally valid for three years from the date of issue.

You can find here a list of authorities responsible for issuing BOIs in each of the 27 EU countries (please see p. 19 in OJ C29 of 28.01.2017). You can also find here further Guidance on Binding Origin Information.

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