What is the meaning behind the term "Origin of goods"?

In practice, there is often confusion and ambiguity in relation to the term "origin of goods". Depending on the background, a distinction is made between three types of origin:

Preferential origin

The European Union has made  unilateral or bilateral preferential agreements  with individual countries or groups of countries. With unilateral agreements,  goods with preferential origins  can be imported into the European Union duty-free or at a reduced rate of duty . With bilateral agreements, imports into the agreement country, e.g. Switzerland, are also made duty-free or at a reduced rate of duty.

An essential prerequisite for this is the  compliance with the goods-related processing and finishing rules set out in the agreement. Supplier declarations with preferential origin within the EU and EUR.1/EUR-MED for export to the agreement country can only be issued if these rules are complied with. A declaration of origin on the invoice is only permitted if the particular rule has been complied with.

The application of this agreement is voluntary; there is no obligations from the side of customs authorities.  

However, application is necessary for many companies for reasons pertaining to competition law, especially as the number of agreements being made is constantly on the rise. Every company should closely analyse the costs and benefits related to the issue, and should consider that extensive knowledge in the field is required.

Non-preferential origin

A  non-preferential origin  is also referred to as "trade-policy origin". The  Union Customs Code serves as a basis for working out the non-preferential origin. The origin of the goods is the location where the essential processing and finishing of the product was carried out. Namely, in a company established for that purpose and with the aim of manufacturing a new product or achieving a significant stage of manufacturing.

For trade-policy reasons (control of goods flow, anti-dumping measures), many countries request a so-called  certificate of origin when importing goods. This document is also frequently requested in the letter of credit business. In Germany, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHKs) are responsible for issuing this certificate. The relevant IHK is also responsible for assessing where the essential processing and finishing of the product was carried out.

"Made in Germany" goods marking

The  marking of goods  serves as a form of consumer protection. The prevailing opinion in the particular sector is used as a basis for working out the origin. There are therefore  no legal foundations  for working out the origin. In the event of a dispute, the origin is assessed by a court.


Do you have a question? Then get in touch via our contact form.

Contact details for the dbh Sales team 
+49 (0) 421 30902-700 or sales(at)dbh.de

Are you interested in our products and consultancy services, or do you need some help with your dbh software? Our sales team will gladly advise you to help find the perfect solution for your company. 

Contact page  Customer Support