Concepts of origin

The subject is highly complex but we will try to provide a basic idea; for a closer look, the CTI staff will be at your full disposal.

Non preferential origin and preferential origin

The concept of “origin” has become important especially for consumer protection. In the customs and excise field, the origin of goods is a complex concept which is of fundamental importance: the exact identification of the origin of goods is essential for a proper settlement of the tax due and to avoid incurring penalties resulting from failure to observe restrictions on import and export.

Non-preferential origin

By “non-preferential origin” we mean, in accordance with the provisions of Community regulations, the place of production of a good or the place where it has undergone its most recent substantial transformation. It can be stated that, for non-preferential origin, it is sufficient (exceptions) that a commodity undergoes substantial transformation on the territory irrespective of any percentage of domestic or foreign commodity used in production. From a customs and excise point of view, it is commonly found in the change of customs heading (the first four digits) a sufficient activity to change the origin of the goods. Establishing the origin can be more complex for a product made in a country using imported raw materials or parts. In principle, it can be stated that all the activities of mere conservation of a product, or which are limited to changing the appearance of the goods (e.g. change of packaging, packing or box) can never be considered sufficient to confer the origin of the goods as they do not materially alter the commodity itself (the good is and remains as it is, albeit with external appearance, although different).

The certificate of origin issued by the competent Chamber of Commerce is the document certifying at international level that the goods have actually been produced (or have undergone “the ultimate substantial transformation”) in a particular country. Therefore, in the case where it is shown that the goods could not receive such a certification, the consequences, which may be of a criminal nature, relate solely to the person who made the declaration and requested that the certificate be issued, incurring in this case a “false declaration of origin”.

Production which, by its nature, must always be considered insufficient to confer the origin:

1. Handling intended to ensure the preservation of the products

2. Simple dusting, sifting, sorting, classifying, assortment, washing, reduction of pieces

3. Packaging changes, divisions or match meeting

4. The affixing of brands, labels or other distinguishing signs on products or their packaging

5. The simple assembly of parts of products to make up a finished product

6. The accumulation of two or more of the above listed operations


Preferential origin

For products imported from certain countries and meeting specific requirements, provision may be made for granting “preferential origin”, namely the granting of import duty benefits (reduction or exemption of duties, abolition of quantitative restrictions or with fixed quotas). Basically there is generally an agreement between two countries From a general point of view, a commodity, which does not meet the requirements to be considered “entirely obtained” in a given country, must be “sufficiently” processed to be considered “original”. The identification of the processes that are considered sufficient to grant origin is instead based on the origin protocols of the individual agreements signed by the EU with certain non-EU countries, as sometimes the rules may differ in themselves, even considerably.

If you would like to know more about it and know what CTI could do for you, ask us.