Claiming tariff quotas to reduce import duties

Tariff quotas are a special mechanism for importing limited supplies of specific goods at a lower rate of customs duty than would normally apply. The quotas usually apply to imports from specific countries. Most tariff quotas operate on a first come first serve basis and when the quota runs out, the duty rate returns to normal.

There is no requirement to claim a tariff quota if there is a lower option or if the same rate of duty available under:

  • other preference arrangements
  • an import duty suspension

There are online tools available to check which goods are covered and a claim should ideally be made when the goods are entering free circulation. In certain circumstances it is possible to make a backdated claim up to 3 years after the goods have been imported but only if the tariff quota remains available. 

HMRC’s new guidance on claiming quotas states that they can be:

  • open – the quota is not expected to exhaust for some time and a lower rate of duty can be given automatically to any valid claim.
  • critical – the quota may be nearing exhaustion or there is no information to base a prediction of how quickly it will be used up.
  • quota exhausted – all claims will be rejected.
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