Rules of origin

Determining where a product comes from is no longer easy when raw materials and parts criss-cross the globe to be used as inputs in scattered manufacturing plants. Rules of origin are therefore needed to attribute one country of origin to each product. They are the criteria used to define where a product was made and are important for implementing other trade policy measures, including trade preferences (preferential rules of origin), quotas, anti-dumping measures and countervailing duties (non-preferential rules of origin).

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WTO Agreement on Rules of Origin


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Work in the Committee on Rules of Origin

The current chair of the Committee on Rules of Origin is .

The Committee on Rules of Origin applies the rules of the General Council (WT/L/161) with the specificities laid out in G/L/149. In addition, the Committee also applies the “Guidelines for Appointment of Officers to WTO Bodies” (WT/L/31).

Since the adoption of the Agreement on Rules of Origin, the work of the Committee has focused primarily on the harmonization of non-preferential rules of origin. More recently, WTO members have also initiated some work on preferential rules of origin and, in particular, on the rules of origin used under trade preferences for least-developed countries (LDCs).

Non-preferential rules of origin

Non-preferential rules of origin are those which apply in the absence of any trade preference — that is, when trade is conducted on a most-favoured nation basis. Not all countries apply specific legislation related to non-preferential rules of origin. However, some trade policy measures such as quotas, anti-dumping or “made in” labels may require a determination of origin and, therefore, the application of non-preferential rules.

In the Agreement on Rules of Origin, WTO members agreed to negotiate harmonized non-preferential rules of origin. After the completion of this “harmonization work programme”, all WTO members would apply identical rules of origin for all non-preferential purposes (rules of origin applied in regional and preferential trade agreements would not be harmonized). These negotiations have not concluded, however, and not all WTO members apply origin requirements for non-preferential purposes. See Technical information on rules of origin.

The following WTO members currently apply national rules of origin for non-preferential purposes:

Select a member from the dropdown list to see if they have submitted notifications about their non-preferential rules of origin.

Preferential rules of origin

Preferential rules or origin are those which apply in reciprocal trade preferences (i.e. regional trade agreements or customs unions) or in non-reciprocal trade preferences (i.e. preferences in favour of developing countries or LDCs).

Rules which apply under reciprocal trade preferences or regional trade agreements must conform with the general disciplines of Annex II of the Agreement on Rules of Origin. Preferential rules of origin notified to the Secretariat can be retrieved in the WTO RTA database:

More recently, WTO members have adopted additional disciplines which cover the rules of origin which apply in the context of non-reciprocal preferences for least developed countries (the 2013 Bali Ministerial Decision on Rules of Origin for LDCs and the 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Rules of Origin for LDCs).

The Bali Ministerial Decision establishes the first set of multilateral guidelines for rules of origin that WTO preference-granting members apply to their non-reciprocal preference schemes for LDCs. The guidelines are intended to make it easier for LDC exporters to qualify for preferences and therefore better utilize market access opportunities that are available to them.

The Nairobi Ministerial Decision elaborates on the 2013 Decision by providing more detailed directions on specific issues which would facilitate LDCs' export of goods to both developed and developing countries under unilateral preferential trade arrangements. See Nairobi Briefing Note.

Notifications received by the Secretariat can be retrieved through the WTO PTA database:

The WTO-ITC-WCO Origin Facilitator is the largest database in the world containing the rules of origin and certification requirements which apply to specific products in different markets.


The WTO Handbook on Notifications contains a detailed explanation about how to prepare notifications related to rules of origin.

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Official documents

Search Documents Online
Rules of origin documents use the code G/RO/* (where * takes additional values)
These links open a new window: allow a moment for the results to appear.

> help with downloading these documents

You can perform more sophisticated searches from the Documents Online search facility by defining multiple search criteria such as document symbol (i.e. code number), full text search or document date.


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Technical assistance

An online course, “Made in … : Understanding Rules of Origin” allows participants to become familiar with the basic concepts of rules of origin and with WTO disciplines governing their use. The course is available through ECampus, the WTO's e-learning hub.

Looking for product-specific rules of origin?
The Origin Facilitator is a joint database of the WTO, ITC and WCO which allows firms to search rules of origin and certification obligations for free.


Committee meetings