General origin of goods

General rules of origin are used for determining the origin of the goods when the origin is not related to granting preferential tariff treatment. Examples of such situations: application of general duty rates upon import, management of quantitative restrictions of import, anti-dumping measures, customs statistics and other commercial reasons. Country of origin of the goods is mandatory information in customs declarations.

According to the general rules of origin, goods wholly produced or manufactured in a single country shall be regarded as having their origin in that country. Goods the production of which involves more than one country shall be deemed to originate in the country where they underwent their last, substantial processing or working. The general rules of origin of the Union may differ from the corresponding rules of other countries. Therefore, a product may acquire et different origins depending on which country’s rules of origin are applied. Upon import, the country of origin of a product is usually determined based on the rules of the country of import.


Points to consider

Union Customs Code

Article 60.2 of the Union Customs Code contains the basic principle for determining non-preferential origin in the Union, when the production of the goods involves more than one country:

“Goods the production of which involves more than one country or territory shall be deemed to originate in the country or territory where they underwent their last, substantial, economically-justified processing or working, in an undertaking equipped for that purpose, resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture.”

This definition is always applied to the determination of general origin, if annex 22-01 of the Delegated Regulation does not have any commodity code specific rule for a product the production of which involves more than one country.

Delegated Regulation

In the Delegated Regulation (EU 2015/2446), articles 31–36 and annex 22-01 concern non-preferential origin.

Goods wholly obtained in a single country are defined in Article 31. Such goods are e.g. vegetable products harvested in the country and products of hunting or fishing carried on there.

Minimal operations are defined in Article 34. They are operations not considered as substantial, economically justified processing or working for the purposes of conferring origin. Such operations are e.g. sifting or screening, sorting, changes of packing, affixing of marks and labels on products as well as simple assembly of parts to constitute a complete product.

For some goods, there are commodity code specific rules for determining the country of origin if annex 22-01 of the Delegated Regulation. At the beginning of the annex, there are introductory notes (definitions, application and glossary). The rule of origin may require e.g. added value (ex 5103 (a)), change of commodity code (ex 5103 (b)), certain production stage (ex 6101 (a)) or it may be based on alternative requirements (ex 6301 (f)).

These commodity code specific rules may, in addition to chapter primary rules also have chapter residual rules, specified residual rules (e.g. chapter residual rule applicable to mixtures in Chapter 9), definitions and chapter notes.   

The primary rules at subdivision level, when they are based on a change in tariff classification, can be expressed using the following abbreviations:

CC: change to the chapter in question from any other chapter
CTH: change to the heading in question from any other heading
CTSH: change to the subheading in question from any other subheading or from any other heading
CTHS: change to the split heading in question from any other split of this heading or from any other heading
CTSHS: change to the split subheading in question from any other split of this subheading or from any other subheading or heading


The customs legislation no longer determines any general model for non-preferential certificate of origin. In Finland, chambers of commerce endorse these certificates of origin for exporters. It is only for the special import arrangements described below that the importer must have a standardised certificate of non preferential origin, separately specified in the customs legislation.

You should note that third countries most likely do not even know the non-preferential rules of origin of the Union. Also, there are no provisions on administrative cooperation between authorities to control that the certificates of origin issued by exporting countries are authentic and correct. For example, the export subject to anti-dumping duties must comply with the rules of origin of the Union. 

Implementing Regulation

Article 57 of the Implementing Regulation (EU 2015/2447) has provisions on the certificate of origin for products subject to special non-preferential import arrangements. Such special arrangements may be e.g. certain quotas for sensitive agricultural products, which are not based on non-preferential origin. The certificate of origin shall, where those arrangements refer to Article 57, be issued using the form set out in Annex 22-14 of the Implementing Regulation According to the introductory notes of Annex 22-14, the period of validity of the certificate of origin shall be 12 months from the date of issue. In exceptional circumstances, the certificate of origin can be issued retrospectively. The certificate shall then bear in Box 5 (Remarks) the indication “Issued retrospectively”.

Certificates of origin used for these special arrangement shall be issued by the competent customs authorities of the third country or by a reliable agency duly authorised by those authorities. The use of such arrangements shall be subject to the condition that an administrative cooperation procedure (the names and addresses of the authorities together with specimens of the stamps) has been set up unless otherwise specified in the arrangements concerned. Subsequent verification of such certificates of origin is specified in Article 59 of the Implementing Regulation