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Advance Rulings

  1. 3 Advance Rulings

Advance Rulings

What activity does this measure regulate?

The means by which a trader can obtain reliable "binding" information about the tariff classification, origin, or other customs treatment of his goods before he imports them

What authorities are directly concerned?

•  Customs

What are the new requirements?

•  Customs shall provide a written ruling on request of a trader concerning the tariff classification or origin of his goods (or any other matters described in paragraph 9(b) prior to their importation)

•  The ruling shall be binding on Customs and remain valid for a reasonable period of time

•  A trader shall have rights to be notified if Customs takes certain actions adverse to his interests (such as a refusal to issue a ruling or a decision to revoke or modify a ruling)

•  Customs must publish certain information about the ruling process

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.[1]

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.[2]

(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 or 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.


[1] 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.

[2] 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.