A Guide to Advanced Tariff Ruling (ATaR)

Everything you need to know

Advanced tariff ruling (ATaR) is a tool you can use when importing into and exporting out of the United Kingdom. Find out how to effectively use ATaRs in this article.

What is an advanced tariff ruling?

An advanced tariff ruling is legal confirmation of your goods classification. This means that customs authorities have verified your choice of commodity code for a particular piece of business. It can be obtained for both import and export business. 

Once granted, an advanced tariff ruling is valid for up to three years, which helps you to understand your duty rates, licensing requirements, quotas, and other restrictions or considerations in advance. Note that: you must declare the ATaR reference on your import or export clearances where applicable.

Although “advanced tariff ruling” is a newer term in the UK, this mechanism is well-known by its former name of binding tariff information (BTI). This name change has come since the United Kingdom left the EU, and the European Union still refers to it as binding tariff information.

What are the benefits of getting an advanced tariff ruling?

Getting an advanced tariff ruling is useful when you have complex goods which are difficult to classify. It is also a safeguard when you need certainty on your obligations for a long time, such as when you have a large-volume contact with a supplier. 

If your business has been calculated and agreed upon based on a certain commodity code and duty rate, then it can be a costly problem if an audit from customs requests a change in that code. 

(Related: How a commodity code is structured)

Imagine that you need to backpay duty on goods already sold, renegotiate rates with customers because of increased costs, or cancel a contract with your supplier early because of a simple misinterpretation of the customs tariff. 

It is, unfortunately, a sad reality that many traders have faced over the years. This is what an advanced tariff ruling helps you to avoid.

The process of getting an advanced tariff ruling

You must get an advanced tariff ruling before your customs procedures transpire; you cannot apply it retrospectively if you have already completed your export or import clearance

Before applying, also note that information surrounding your ATaR can also be made public by HMRC unless you mark them as confidential. Even then, some information will be available for transparency reasons.

To proceed with obtaining an ATaR, you will need to have:

  • A Government Gateway ID.
  • Detailed information on your goods, for which the particulars will vary depending on the commodity.
  • Brochures, manuals, images, or samples as requested. (You will need to mark these as confidential when submitting them).
  • A suggested commodity code.

This information is submitted to HMRC, who will take between 30 and 120 days to respond. 

Within their advice, HMRC will provide you with:

  • A decision on your advanced tariff ruling.
  • Your commodity code for your goods.
  • The dates of validity for your ATaR.
  • Your ATaR reference for your customs clearance.
  • A detailed description of your goods that can be used on your paperwork to help other authorities easily identify them.
  • An explanation as to why the decisions surrounding your ATaR were legally justified.

If granted, you can use your ATaR from the start date given in your advice.

If you disagree with the decisions made by HMRC, you can appeal by responding with your reasoning.

Need help with an advanced tariff ruling (ATaR)?

Customs Support is here for you. Working closely with HMRC throughout Brexit, the ongoing implementation of the Windsor Agreement, the upcoming changes with the Border Target Operating Model, and with classifying goods across  – our customs consultants are used to making customs easy for even the most complicated processes.

If you need help getting an advanced tariff ruling, contact us for more information.