Union Customs Code – Outward Processing

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Union Customs Code – Outward Processing
  • Scope
  • Customs duties and import VAT
  • Authorisation
  • SES
  • OP IM / EX
  • Selling goods
  • Exporting OP goods
  • Importing OP goods
  • Repairs
  • OP goods – calculating the customs value
  • Preferential duty rates
  • End-Use
  • Inward Processing (IP)
  • Outward processing trade (OPT)

This note provides an overview of HMRC’s interpretation of the special customs procedure, Outward Processing (OP), that was revised when the Union Customs Code was introduced with effect from 1 May 2016. This note should be read in conjunction with the Union Customs Code – imports, exports and specific reliefs and procedures, Union Customs Code – Customs Special Procedures – economic test and Union Customs Code – Customs Special Procedures – equivalence guidance notes.

For more information on the procedure that operated before 1 May 2016, please see the Outward processing relief (OPR) – overview guidance note.

More information on the UCC can also be found on the European Commission website via the UCC – guidance documents .

Specific information on customs simplified procedures can be found via Special Procedures .


EU / Union goods can be temporarily exported to a non-EU country in order for processing / repair work to be undertaken. OP enables a business to obtain duty relief on goods that are imported from a non-EU customs territory, which have been produced from EU goods that were previously exported. The products that are produced as a result of the processing work can be released into free circulation within the EU with either partial or total relief from import duty, if the business has an OP authorisation, or by another person who has received permission from the authorisation holder.

HMRC Customs Notice 3001 ; Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 (UCC) ; Commission Implementing Regulation (EC) 2015/2447 ; Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446 (DA) 

The OP authorisation holder does not need to arrange for the processing work to be undertaken outside of the EU and the goods can be imported by a third party.

OP is intended to enable EU established businesses to take advantage of cheaper labour costs outside of the EU, whilst encouraging the use of EU produced

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