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HMRC internal manual

Import preference guidance notes

Guide Notes: validity of preference documentation

Validity of EUR1 / EUR-MED and GSP Form A

EC regulations set down a number of conditions governing the completion of preference certificates. A certificate must:

  • be printed on a green patterned background known as ‘guilloche’. This requirement also applies to duplicate, replacement and retrospective certificates (Note: the patterns and shades of green may differ)
  • be an original, not a carbon or photocopy, and should measure approximately 210 x 297 mm
  • have a serial number (usually in the top right hand corner)
  • be typed or written legibly in ink
  • have no erasures or corrections, any alteration should be initialled by the signatory of the approved authority (or approved exporter)
  • clearly relate to the goods for which preference is being claimed and must show an EU country of destination (Note: completion of the ‘consignee’ box is optional)
  • carry any of the additional statements required for certain preferential importations (see IPGN6050)
  • bear the exporter’s signature
  • in Box 8 of a GSP Form A show either ‘P’ (wholly produced) or ‘W’ (non-originating materials used in manufacture). Where Box 8 has been completed with a ‘W’ it must also contain a 4 digit tariff heading (Important: see IPGN5150 and IPGN5400)
  • have the official stamp and an original signature of the approved authority, and
  • be presented within its period of validity. The period of validity varies depending on the Agreement concerned. Specific details can be found in Notice 826 Tariff Preferences: Imports.

Validity of an invoice declaration

An invoice declaration is the name given to a simplified proof of origin that consists of a declaration that may appear on the invoice, delivery note or other commercial document that describes the products concerned in sufficient detail to enable the consignment to be identified.

An invoice declaration:

  • may be hand-written, typed, stamped or printed on the document concerned (if hand-written, it must be written legibly in ink)
  • must be correctly worded, see Notice 826 Tariff Preferences: Imports
  • must be in one of the EU languages or in the language of the exporting country
  • must bear the original signature of the exporter. However an approved exporter is not required to sign the declaration. An approved exporter may therefore transmit the declaration as an original, a facsimile, photocopy or a copy taken from an EDI or email sent from supplier to importer
  • must contain the special authorisation number within the declaration when issued by approved exporters
  • must not, in the case of non-approved exporters, be issued for consignments exceeding the specified value limits (current value limits can be found in Notice 826 Tariff Preferences: imports). Note: these value limits are calculated from EU monetary limits set in Euros at the time of signing the preference agreement. As preference countries base these value limits on their own currency, they may differ from the £ sterling equivalents. A flexible approach may therefore be taken when checking whether these limits have been exceeded
  • must be presented within its period of validity, and
  • must clearly indicate any non-originating goods which are included on the invoice (ie those goods on which preference is not being claimed).

General note on period of validity

Preference documents which are presented outside the period of validity can be accepted provided they are valid in all other respects and a provisional claim to preference was made before the expiry date of the document (ie the importer / agent has indicated within the period of validity that preference will be claimed upon receipt of the document or upon the removal of goods which have been entered to a customs warehouse).

However, the above periods of validity may be waived if exceptional circumstances prevented the certificate from being presented within its period of validity. Exceptional circumstances are those which are outside the control of the importer or the agent / forwarder (ie they are unforeseen and cannot be prevented) and might include:

  • dock strikes
  • accidents en route, or
  • shipping delays caused by adverse weather.

Slight discrepancies and obvious errors

Preference legislation allows for slight discrepancies between the preference document, the customs entry and other supporting documents submitted with it. Obvious errors can be disregarded if they do not create doubts about the correctness of the statements made on the document.

Examples include:

  • spelling mistakes or other minor errors whether or not corrected
  • amendments, including amendments made using correction fluid, which have no direct bearing on the validity of the declaration of origin
  • information valid and accurate but not in the correct box
  • the goods imported exceed the amount declared on the preference document - see IPGN5200
  • exporter declaration box not dated, and
  • Box 8 (GSP Forms A only) shows incorrect tariff heading but is accepted as not affecting eligibility for preference after reference to IPGN5150 and IPGN5400.

Examples of the most widely used invoice declaration text in various EU languages

English version

The exporter of the products covered by this document (customs authorisation No … (1)) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of … preferential origin. (2)

Spanish version

El exportador de los productos incluidos en el presente documento (autorizacion aduanera no … (1)) declara que, salvo indicacion en sentido contrario, estos productos gozan de un origen preferencial … (2)

Danish version

EksportØren af varer, der er omfattet af naervaerende dokument, (toldmyndighedernes tilladelse nr. … (1)), erklærer, at varerne, medmindre andet tydeligt er angivet, har præferenceoprindelse i … (2)

German version

Der Ausführer (Ermächtigter Ausführer; Bewilligungs-Nr … (1)) der Waren, auf die sich dieses Handelspapier bezieht erklärt, daß diese Waren, soweit nicht anders angegeben, präferenzbegünstigte …-Ursprungswaren sind. (2)

Greek version

O exagwgeaV twn proïontwu pou kaluptontai apo to paron eggrafo (adeia telwneiou up’ ariJ. … (1)) dhlwnei oti, ektoV ean dhlwnetai safwV ta proïonta auta einai protimhsiakhV katagwghV … (2)

French version

L’exportateur des produits couverts par le présent document (autorisation douanière no … (1)) déclare que, sauf indication claire du contraire, ces produits ont 1’origine préférentielle … (2).

Italian version

L’esportatore delle merci contemplate nel present documento (autorizzazione doganale n. … (1)) dichiara che, salvo indicazione contraria, le merci sono di origine preferenziale … (2)

Dutch version

De exporteur van de goederen waarop dit document van toepassing is (douanevergunning nr. … (1)), verklaart dat, behoudens uitdrukkelijke andersluidende vermelding, deze goederen van preferentiele …-oorsprong zijn. (2)

Portuguese version

O abaxio assinado, exportador dos produtos cobertos pelo presente documento (autorização aduaneira no. … (1)), declara que, salvo expressamente indicado em contrário, estes produtos são de origem preferencial … (2)

Finnish version

Tässä asiakirjassa mainittujen tuotteiden viejä (tullin lupanumero … (1)) ilmoittaa, että nämä tuotteet ovat, ellei toisin ole selvästi merkitty, etuuskohteluun oikeuttavaa …-alkuperätuotteita. (2)

Swedish version

Exportören av de varor som omfattas av detta dokument (tullmyndighetens tillstand nr. … (1)) försäkrar att dessa varor, om inte annat tydligt markerats, har förmansberättigande …-ursprung. (2)