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HMRC internal manual

Customs Special Procedures Manual

Equivalence: commercial quality and technical characteristics

Goods may fall under the same 8 digit CN code but technical characteristics and commercial quality of those goods can vary considerably. These terms are not defined within the legislation but samples, illustrations, technical descriptions or analysis of goods may be useful to enable a comparison to be made between the goods to be entered to IP and the free circulation equivalent goods.

It is not possible to give guidance that will cover all cases but generally an indication that goods are not equivalent will be apparent if:

  • any differentiation between goods is made by the applicant because of their non EU and EU customer requirements
  • goods cannot be used for the same purpose, or
  • goods are not directly interchangeable.

Supervising offices should ensure that equivalence is not used simply to export cheaper, inferior goods to a non-Union market in order to bring in more expensive, better quality goods for sale on the EU market or vice versa. Special attention should also be made to applications that involve clothing or fashion items as fashion trends will impact upon the marketability of the goods. For example exporting last year’s fashion items to allow the import of items currently in fashion or importing and exporting different colours or styles of clothing, would not meet the commercial quality criteria.

If there are any doubts that goods are equivalence consult the Unit of Expertise (UoE) in Nottingham.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, Article 169 (6)(c); Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447, Para (53)