Import Quotas

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The Import Quotas system allows the import of limited amounts of goods at a rate of duty lower than would otherwise apply. Quotas apply to certain goods from particular countries - so they are very specific.

The amount can be expressed in units of quantity, value, volume, or weight and the period during which the quota is available can be limited. The duties covered can be customs duty, agricultural levies or other charges related to the Common Agricultural Policy.

Who imposes Import Quotas?

A quota is put in place by the EC. Once an individual quota has been used up, then no further imports at the reduced rate of duty under that quota can be made. Imports at the full rate of duty (or agricultural levy) can still take place. Quotas are given a Tariff Quota Order Number (TQON), 6 digits in length.

Will I be involved in Import Quotas?

Checking if 'TQ' is shown in the first column of the Tariff following the commodity code provides clarification as to whether a quota is applicable.

If TQ is shown, you will need to check the additional information given at the back of the specific Tariff Chapter for that commodity code - remember to check the country of origin. If your goods are listed and you wish to bid for a share you will need to note the TQON shown.

Requesting a share of the Quota

When a quota is open, anyone within the EC can request a share. This is usually done at the time of import when the TQON is declared on the import declaration. You will not know immediately if your claim has been successful - all the 'claims' received throughout the EC are collated and apportioned by the European Commission.

As the EC control quotas, it is quite feasible for a quota not to open on the date shown, or for a quota to become available before its details appear in the Tariff.

What happens to the request?

When quota levels are low, the European Commission will issue a notice of Quota Critical. Further 'claims' to the TQON have to be backed by a security taken against the import for the full rate of duty - in case no allocation is allowed. You can put in a claim after your import has taken place - however if the quota has closed in the meantime, your back-dated claim will not be successful.

UK Charter Standards are to repay any duty overpaid (or held as security pending the outcome of your claim to a quota), within 30 working days. This is not always possible as it’s dependant upon the Commission processing all the quota claims and issuing the results.

Your claim could be:

  • allowed in full – so the whole of your consignment benefits from a lower rate of duty
  • partially allowed – so only a set amount of your consignment can benefit from a lower duty rate
  • refused - so your whole consignment will have duty at the higher rate

For further information and advice

Central Tariff Quota Unit (CTQU): Tel: 01702 366787/367918/367963, or via the Tariff Quota page on our website.

Notice 375 and the Tariff Volume 1 Part 8 contain further details about quotas.

The most up to date source of quota information can be found on the European Commission DDS site. If you require further assistance you can contact the Helpline on Tel 0300 200 3700.

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$START-DATA$ title=Import Quotas^ summary=This provides a brief overview of import quotas and how they work.^ doctype=BasicGuides^ date=05-Dec-2013^ author=MP6031699^ $END-DATA$
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See the Import & Export FAQs if you have any queries.