Tariff quotas

Tariff quotas refer to total or partial waiver of the normal duties granted for a limited period to a limited quantity of imported goods. When a quota has been exhausted, the goods concerned can still be imported by paying the normal duties.

Tariff quotas can be based on various agreements, such as WTO agreements, the EU GSP, accession treaties and free trade arrangements. Tariff quotas can also be granted unilaterally by the EU.

WTO tariff quotas are applied partly to imports from all countries and partly to imports from countries listed in the terms of agreement. Other agreement-based tariff quotas are applied only to imports from countries party to the agreement.

Autonomous tariff quotas are applied upon import from all non-EU countries to certain goods that are not sufficiently available for companies manufacturing and producing goods in the EU. Companies can apply for tariff quotas for goods they need in their production at the same way as they can apply for tariff suspensions.

Management of tariff quotas

Some tariff quotas are managed by the Commission's Directorate-General responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI). The use of these quotas requires the presentation of a quota import licence. Quota import licences are applied for from the Finnish Food Authority. When the quota import licence has been issued, the customer already knows about the right to import the goods under the quota when completing the customs declaration. The order number for import licence quotas begins with 094.

Most tariff quotas are managed by the Commission's Directorate-General responsible for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD). The use of these quotas does not require import licences. Instead, the quantities under quotas are allocated in the chronological order of the date of acceptance of the relevant customs declarations (FCFS, first come first served). Whether one benefits from the quota becomes clear only after the allocation of the quantities. When almost the complete volume of the quota has been used, the remaining balance on the last allocation day is be divided among all the requests processed that day.

How can I benefit from a tariff quota?

In the customs declaration, make a request to benefit from the quota. The request can be made the first time the goods are released for free circulation. As for FCFS quotas, what is decisive is the date of acceptance of the customs declaration and whether any balance remains of the quota. You will find the details of the quota in the Commission’s DDS database.

Customs sends quota requests for FCFS quotas to the Commission every working day. Commission dispenses quotas based on the date of receipt of the declaration concerning release into free circulation.

Quotas cannot be applied for in the Import declarations for businesses – special procedures system.

Points to consider

Exceptional situations include the fallback procedure and quota requests for bulk goods. Using the SAD form requires the prior approval of Customs.

  1. Enter the preference code, i.e. customs treatment code, in box 36 of the customs declaration. When applying the quota, the middle number of the preferential treatment code is always 2.
  2. Make the request for the entire import consignment and present the required documentation. You will find the tariff quota serial number and the applicable tariff rate in the FINTARIC commodity code service.
  3. Enter the quota serial number in column 39. In column 44, provide the certificates required for applying the quota.

In the future, preferential tariffs administered through tariff quotas will be applied for with a standard import declaration as of April 2021 when the new Customs Clearance Service and the renewed import declarations have been deployed. For the time being, these quota benefits cannot be applied for with a two-step customs declaration. At a later date to be announced separately, it will be possible to apply for preferential treatment with a standard declaration, a simplified declaration or a supplementary declaration. Quotas where a specific end-use is required are to be applied for through the Import declarations for businesses – special procedures system (ITU). 

In the Customs Clearance Service, the clearance decision is generated according to the quota benefit before the quantity that falls within the quota is known. If the matter involves a queue quota or a critical quota about to be exhausted, Customs reserves a guarantee, which corresponds to the sum between the quota benefit duty and the general custom duty.

What happens if all goods do not fall within the quota?

  • If the goods fall within the limit of the quota, Customs will not send a decision on revision.
  • If the goods do not fall within the limit of the quota Customs will, on the initiative of the authorities, make a decision on revision in about a week. 
  • If you require that goods not included in the quota should be under another quota, you must apply for the benefit with an amendment request.
  • If some of the goods are granted a quota benefit and some not, Customs will make a decision on revision on its own initiative.

You should make the request for the entire import consignment and present the required documentation. You will find the tariff quota serial number and the applicable tariff rate in the FINTARIC commodity code service.

Provide the following in the Customs Clearance Service: 

  • quota sequence number
  • quota quantity and quantity unit under “Tax bases” 
  • preferential treatment; when applying the quota, the middle number of the preferential treatment code is always 2.
  • country of origin or country category entitling to preferential treatment
  • When the quota is about to be full and all of the goods do not necessarily fit under it, you can provide the code “FIPRE” for secondary preferential treatment. You can declare secondary preferential treatment when the requirements for applying another preferential treatment are met, for instance when you have a certificate of origin required for the other quota. A tariff accordant with secondary preferential treatment is applied on the goods if the original quota has been filled, due to which it has not been possible to grant preferential treatment accordant with the applied quota, and if a secondary preferential treatment code has been provided in the declaration. If a secondary preferential treatment has not been declared, then a third-country customs duty (preferential treatment 100) will be levied on goods for which a quota benefit has not been granted. 

Tariff quotas managed in accordance with the chronological order of dates of acceptance of customs declarations for release for free circulation:


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