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HMRC internal manual

Customs Special Procedures Manual

Equivalence: determining whether goods are equivalent

To be equivalent the free circulation goods must:

  • share the same first 8 digits of the commodity code
  • be of the same commercial quality, and
  • have the same technical characteristics.

Usually Notice 3001, Section 9, Equivalence should be sufficient to establish if goods are equivalent without the need for costly and time-consuming analysis of goods. However, trade or independent analysis should be provided for agricultural goods or bulk goods such as chemicals and oils. If there are any doubts that the goods are equivalent, samples for laboratory analysis should be taken. Further samples should be taken on a risk basis, at periodic intervals to confirm that the equivalence criteria continue to be met. Equivalence cannot be used where goods are subject to Anti-dumping duty (ADD).

Council Regulation (EU) 952/2013, Article 223; Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, Article 169 and Annex 71.02; Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447, Article 268.

There may also be situations where the non-Union and Union goods are the same and could be mixed but other regulations prevent such mixing taking place. For example, third country dried milk powder and EU sourced dried milk powder, although identical, cannot be mixed because of health restrictions placed by DEFRA. Although these goods cannot be mixed or stored together, this should not be taken as an indication that the goods are not equivalent. In such cases, provided the other equivalence criteria are met, equivalence should only be refused if the non EU customer states that they are only prepared to accept the third country goods and not the EU equivalent or vice versa.