Trade with South Korea

How you import from and export to South Korea.

UK-South Korea trade agreement

The UK has signed a trade agreement with South Korea, which is in effect.

This guidance provides information on aspects of trade covered by the UK-South Korea agreement. It is for UK businesses trading with South Korea.

What the agreement includes

This trade agreement includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods - including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff rate quotas, rules of origin and sanitary and phytosanitary measures
  • trade in services
  • intellectual property, including geographical indications
  • government procurement

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and South Korea continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

You can use online tools trade with the UK and check how to export goods to check product-specific and country-specific information on tariffs and regulations that currently apply to UK trade in goods. These tools are regularly updated to reflect any changes.

Tariff rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK.

To find out the tariff rate quotas, see tables 4 and 5 of the parliamentary report.

Rules of origin

Claiming preferential rates for your exports from the UK

The requirements for claiming preference remain unchanged. Your goods should be accompanied by an origin declaration made out by one of the following:

  • an approved exporter
  • any exporter for a consignment of originating products whose total value does not exceed 6,000 Euros

Approved exporter authorisations issued in the UK prior to the UK leaving the EU remain valid in the UK for goods exported under the UK-South Korea trade agreement.

Using EU materials and processing in your exports to South Korea

You can use EU materials or processing in your exports to South Korea. The UK and Korea must have fulfilled the necessary requirements set out in the Rules of Origin Protocol. You must also ensure the working or processing you do in the UK goes beyond the minimal operations listed in the agreement and that the other relevant conditions are met.

For example, you cannot simply package or label a product from the EU and export it to South Korea as a good originating in the UK.

See the list of minimal operations in Article 6 of the Rules of Origin Protocol in the UK-South Korea trade agreement text.

The ability to consider materials from, or processing carried out in, another country as originating when incorporated into your product is called cumulation.

You should check with the appropriate customs authorities regarding your trade between the UK and South Korea. In particular, the Rules of Origin agreed under the UK-South Korea trade agreement are scheduled to be reviewed no later than 24 months from 1 January 2021.

Sending your goods to South Korea through the EU and other countries

Goods transited through the EU are not subject to the same restrictions as those in transit through other countries.

For example, you can split a consignment in the EU when exporting goods to South Korea, provided the goods comprising the consignment have not cleared customs in the EU.

Transit through any other country is possible provided your goods remain under customs surveillance and do not undergo operations other than unloading, reloading or any operation designed to preserve them in good condition.

Origin quotas

Origin quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK.

See table 6 listed in the agreement parliamentary report for details on the origin quotas.

Geographical indications

Geographical indications (GIs) protect the geographical names of food, drink and agricultural products. Both the UK and South Korea’s existing GIs remain covered by this agreement.

The following UK GIs, including ‘transborder GIs’ that relate to the territory of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, are protected in this agreement:

  • Irish whisky/Irish whiskey
  • Scotch whisky

Further information

Find further guidance on exporting.

Find out how the Northern Ireland Protocol could affect your business.

Freight forwarding may save you time and money if you’re exporting large volumes of goods or high value items by sea or air freight. Find out more about freight forwarders.

This guidance is for information only. You should consult your legal advisers if you wish to ensure you understand the legal implications of trading from for your business.


If you have queries about trade, contact the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Should you wish to speak to someone directly, we have local trade offices based around the UK. Within each office you can contact an international trade advisor. Find your local trade office.

Published 9 September 2019
Last updated 18 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated following a content review.

  2. Updated to include information on origin quotas.

  3. Page updated to provide detailed guidance on how to trade with South Korea from 1 January 2021. This includes information on import tariff rates and rules of origin.

  4. First published.