What is a REX Number?
REX stands for the Registered Exporters System and is a system developed by the European Commission, used in the EU for certification of the origin of goods based on a principle of self-certification. The REX system is used to identify suppliers making origin statements on goods going into the EU under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) and by EU Exporters under some FTAs.
REX Numbers and Preferential Origin
When a trade agreement requires the use of a REX, the exporter makes the declaration of preference origin on a commercial document. These are known as statements of origin and are generally made on the export invoice. To be entitled to make out a statement of origin, the exporter must be registered on a database by the competent authorities, therefore becoming a “registered exporter”.
We first encountered REX numbers during our time within the EU. A program was introduced wherein eligible countries could request a REX number from their competent authorities. This unique number was used in their commercial documentation for goods that qualified under the EU GSP. The REX number effectively replaced the requirement for a physical GSP certificate (GSP Form A) to be sent to the importer to claim GSP benefits. Its validity can be verified through the EU REX validation database.
There was a need for more precise guidelines on this matter because certain commodity brokerages (who were not the actual manufacturers of the goods), were incorrectly including declarations on their commercial documents like invoices. The declaration of origin could only be made on a commercial document by the REX holder, the manufacturer. To ensure clarity, customs entry and preference claims required both the broker’s invoice and a declaration from the manufacturer. This ensured that the correct origin information was provided and prevented inaccuracies in the process.
REX Numbers Post-Brexit
After leaving the EU, a notable shift occurred for those in the UK. The GSP system continued in the UK until June 19th, 2023, when it was replaced by the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS). However, the UK would not, under GSP, and will not, under DCTS, accept a commercial document origin statement supported by a REX number. The commercial document statement must be supported by a Trader Identification Number, or a GSP Form A can be used to claim preference at import. The GSP Form A does not have to be the original certificate with the green guilloche pattern; copies are accepted by UK Customs. Perhaps more significantly, the REX numbers assumed an entirely different role, unrelated to GSP for UK imports.
Upon the agreement and publication of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), traders were informed that to claim preferences under this trade deal, a supplier declaration of origin must be used on a commercial document, and no separate certificate, such as an EUR1 form would be valid. To make the statement of preference origin, the EU Exporter must hold a REX number and quote it within the declaration, though low-value consignments (less than €6000) do not need the REX to be quoted. So, it is crucial for any EU supplier making such declarations to be a Registered Exporter (REX), since this plays a pivotal role in the suppliers’ declaration process and without a valid REX number being quoted, it is difficult for the UK importer to benefit from the TCA.
Approved Exporter Status
The introduction of the REX within the EU-UK agreement has caused some confusion because the EU (and the UK) operate a separate exporter validation scheme, known as the Approved Exporter Status, which applies to some FTAs. This is an entirely different number and cannot be used to validate the EU exporter’s preference statements on import into the UK, even though we have seen some UK companies assume the correct authorisation number has been quoted. A REX number has “REX” as part of the number, e.g., NLREX1234321. Even though the goods were produced in, for example, France, the declaration would need to include the French producers’ REX number, e.g., FRREX12345678, but clearly state that the goods were of EU origin, not the individual country of production in the declaration.
The UK does not operate a REX system, though we do have Approved Exporter Status, which is relevant to many UK FTAs. When exporting from the UK to the EU, instead of using a REX within the statement of origin, GB (Great Britain) producers had to include their EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number instead. This information enables their EU customers to claim preference on imports to the EU without needing a REX number.
Again, this situation caused considerable confusion, with EU exporters mistakenly including their EORI numbers, instead of a REX number in the declaration. While on the other hand, UK exporters sought clarification about obtaining a REX number, only to realise they were not eligible to acquire one.
REX is a registration scheme used by businesses in the EU, not the UK. But to claim preference on imports from the EU, the EU supplier must quote their REX on a commercial document that comes with the consignment. The UK importer must check and validate that it is an authorised number linked to the company exporting the goods. The EU also use REX numbers in other trade agreements, including the EU agreements with Canada, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, and the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). The requirement for a REX number has been replaced in the UK versions of these agreements and all new agreements.