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  • Overview

    Article 3 of the WTO TFA requires Members to issue advance rulings regarding the tariff classification and the (non-preferential) origin of goods in accordance with the provisions of that article.  Members are also encouraged to issue advance rulings for other areas such as Customs valuation and requirements for relief or exemption from Customs duties.  The provisions of TFA set rules regarding the issuance of advance rulings including cases where an application may be declined by Members and the validity of advance rulings for a reasonable period.

    Standard 9.9 of the General Annex to the Revised Kyoto Convention states that binding rulings shall be issued at the request of the interested person. The RKC Guidelines to this standard cover many aspects of binding rulings, including their scope, notification, time-limits and use.

    The following WCO tools are also useful for the implementation of the TFA:

    • Technical Guidelines on Advance Rulings for Classification, Origin and Valuation
    • Diagnostic Tool on Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin Work and Related Infrastructure
    • Guidelines on Customs Infrastructure for Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin        
    • Practical Guidelines for Valuation Control.

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    WTO TFA

    1. Each Member shall issue an advance ruling in a reasonable, time-bound manner to the applicant that has submitted a written request containing all necessary information. If a Member declines to issue an advance ruling it shall promptly notify the applicant in writing, setting out the relevant facts and the basis for its decision.

    2. A Member may decline to issue an advance ruling to the applicant where the question raised in the application:

        (a)    is already pending in the applicant's case before any governmental agency, appellate tribunal, or court; or

        (b)    has already been decided by any appellate tribunal or court.

    3. The advance ruling shall be valid for a reasonable period of time after its issuance unless the law, facts, or circumstances supporting that ruling have changed.

    4. Where the Member revokes, modifies, or invalidates the advance ruling, it shall provide written notice to the applicant setting out the relevant facts and the basis for its decision. Where a Member revokes, modifies, or invalidates advance rulings with retroactive effect, it may only do so where the ruling was based on incomplete, incorrect, false, or misleading information.

    5. An advance ruling issued by a Member shall be binding on that Member in respect of the applicant that sought it. The Member may provide that the advance ruling is binding on the applicant.

    6. Each Member shall publish, at a minimum:

        (a)    the requirements for the application for an advance ruling, including the information to be provided and the format;

        (b)    the time period by which it will issue an advance ruling; and

        (c)    the length of time for which the advance ruling is valid.

    7. Each Member shall provide, upon written request of an applicant, a review of the advance ruling or the decision to revoke, modify or invalidate the advance ruling.2

    8. Each Member shall endeavour to make publicly available any information on advance rulings which it considers to be of significant interest to other interested parties, taking into account the need to protect commercially confidential information.

    9. Definitions and scope:

        (a)    An advance ruling is a written decision provided by a Member to the applicant prior to the importation of a good covered by the application that sets forth the treatment that the Member shall provide to the good at the time of importation with regard to:

                (i)     the good's tariff classification; and

                (ii)    the origin of the good;3

        (b)    In addition to the advance rulings defined in subparagraph (a), Members are encouraged to provide advance rulings on:

                (i)    the appropriate method or criteria, and the application thereof, to be used for determining the customs value under a particular set of facts;

                (ii)    the applicability of the Member's requirements for relief or exemption from customs duties;

                (iii)    the application of the Member's requirements for quotas, including tariff quotas; and

                (iv)    any additional matters for which a Member considers it appropriate to issue an advance ruling.

        (c)    An applicant is an exporter, importer or any person with a justifiable cause or a representative thereof.

        (d)    A Member may require that the applicant have legal representation or registration in its territory. To the extent possible, such requirements shall not restrict the categories of persons eligible to apply for advance rulings, with particular consideration for the specific needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. These requirements shall be clear and transparent and not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination.


    2 Under this paragraph: (a) a review may, either before or after the ruling has been acted upon, be provided by the official, office, or authority that issued the ruling, a higher or independent administrative authority, or a judicial authority; and (b) a Member is not required to provide the applicant with recourse to paragraph 1 of Article 4.

    3 It is understood that an advance ruling on the origin of a good may be an assessment of origin for the purposes of the Agreement on Rules of Origin where the ruling meets the requirements of this Agreement and the Agreement on Rules of Origin. Likewise, an assessment of origin under the Agreement on Rules of Origin may be an advance ruling on the origin of a good for the purposes of this Agreement where the ruling meets the requirements of both agreements. Members are not required to establish separate arrangements under this provision in addition to those established pursuant to the Agreement on Rules of Origin in relation to the assessment of origin provided that the requirements of this Article are fulfilled.

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    Revised kyoto convention

    General Annex - Chapter 9 (Information, Decisions and Rulings Supplied by Customs)

    The availability of information on Customs matters to interested persons is one of the key elements of trade facilitation.  This information, which must be furnished by Customs, may be general or specific.  Persons often need specific information about a particular operation they intend to carry out.  Sometimes the decision whether or not to proceed with the operation may depend upon the information supplied by the Customs.  When such information is requested, it is the responsibility of the Customs to provide it completely and accurately and as soon as possible.

    Standard 9.9 of the General Annex to the Revised Kyoto Convention covers binding rulings. The Guidelines to this Standard cover many aspects of binding rulings, including their scope, notification, time-limits and use. They specify the details of binding rulings.

    9.9. Standard

    The Customs shall issue binding rulings at the request of the interested person, provided that the Customs have all the information they deem necessary.

    RKC Guidelines on RKC General Annex  - Chapter 9  (download)

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    Other WCO Tools

    Technical Guidelines on Advance Rulings for Classification, Origin and Valuation (download)

    The Guidelines cover all the details of binding origin information.

    Diagnostic Tool on Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin Work and Related Infrastructure / Guidelines on Customs Infrastructure for Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin

    The Diagnostic Tool has been designed to assist managers and senior officials in Customs administrations, as well as external diagnosticians, in respect of the identification, design, implementation and evaluation of capacity building projects with the aim of improving their performance in these areas. This Tool should be used together with the accompanying Guidelines on Infrastructure for Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin, as well as other relevant WCO materials. (The Diagnostic Tool and the Guidelines are available on the WCO Members' Website)

    Practical Guidelines for Valuation Control

    The Guidelines have general recommended procedures on advance rulings regarding Customs valuation. (This tool is available on the WCO Members’ Website)

     

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    Members Practices

    Implementing Advance Tariff Rulings (Liberia) (download)

    The Binding Origin Information (BOI) (France) (download)

    Advance Ruling (Chile) (download)

    Advance Ruling on Origin (Japan) (The WCO Origin Conference 2014) (download)

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    Performance Indicators

    1. Classifications

           Yes/No Question

    • Do you have an advance ruling system on tariff classification?

           Quantitative indicators

    • No. of written advance rulings issued per year

     

    2. Non-preferential Rules of Origin

           Yes/No Question

    • Do you have an advance ruling system on non-preferential rules of origin?

           Quantitative indicators

    • No. of written advance rulings issued per year

     

    3. Valuation

           Yes/No Question

    • Do you have an advance ruling system on Customs valuation?

          Quantitative indicators

    • No. of written advance rulings issued per year

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