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HMRC internal manual

Import preference guidance notes

General principles: tariff quotas and ceilings

Once a quota is exhausted, the full rate of duty is charged, unless the goods are entitled to relief under other preferential arrangements.

Semi-sensitive goods are restricted by ceilings which are fixed by the EU for each calendar year. Most of the goods which are affected by this form of restriction are listed at the end of each Chapter of Volume 2 of the Tariff. When importations into the EU as a whole reach the ceiling level any Member State may request re-imposition of the full rate of duty. The EU Commission gives Member States only three days’ notice of such re-imposition of duty. This means that in some cases Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) cannot be updated straight away and some goods are cleared at the preferential rate after the full rate has been re-imposed. In these circumstances the Management Support System (MSS) can be used to identify such entries so that the correct duty can be collected.