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.
- Enter the preferential treatment 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.
- Make the request for the entire import consignment and present the required documentation. You will find the order number of the tariff quota and the applicable duty in the DDS through Taric and quota consultation or in parts 1 and 2 of the Finnish Customs Tariff (in Finnish and Swedish), in the column for normal duty rate.
- Enter the order number of the quota in box 39 of the customs declaration, and refer to the required licences in box 44.
Customs sends the requests concerning FCFS quotas every day to the Commission, which will allocate the quantities based on the date of receipt of the declaration for release for free circulation.
For the time being, requests to benefit from a tariff quota cannot be made via the Import Declaration Service of Customs.
Points to consider
Tariff quotas managed in accordance with the chronological order of dates of acceptance of customs declarations for release for free circulation:
- Commission Implementing Regulation 2015/2447 for the Union Customs Code, Tariff quotas, Articles 49–54