From Streamlined to Stalled? Solving Rule of Origin Challenges in UK Construction with iCustoms

The construction industry has traditionally relied on the free flow of materials across borders. The European Union customs union provided advantages to UK construction sites prior to Brexit. Projects could use steel beams from Germany, pre-cast concrete blocks from Ireland, and high-performance glazing from France without worrying about where they came from. This facilitated efficient project timelines, optimised costs, and fostered collaboration within the European market. But a new level of complexity has surfaced since the UK left the EU customs union: Rules of Origin.

Understanding Rules of Origin and Their Impact:

RoO is a regulation within Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that determines the “economic nationality” of a good. These rules define the minimum amount of processing or transformation a product must undergo in a specific country to be considered “originating” from that country. RoO is crucial because FTAs often offer preferential tariff rates (reduced or eliminated import duties) for originating goods. In the UK construction industry context, RoO will significantly impact the import of essential materials.

The Pre-Brexit Landscape:

Prior to Brexit, UK construction companies had no trouble sourcing materials from any part of the EU without considering their country of origin. Import taxes did not apply to materials as long as they came from within the bloc. This streamlined process facilitated faster project completion and minimised import costs for construction firms.

The Post-Brexit Puzzle:

With Brexit, the free flow of construction materials has ended. Now, the origin of each component, from steel beams to wiring and specialised insulation, becomes a critical factor in determining import duties. Construction companies need to ensure that essential materials meet the RoO requirements of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) to avoid facing significant tariff increases.

Examples of RoO Implications:

  • A UK construction firm planning a high-rise office building might face import duties on steel beams sourced from Germany if the beams still need sufficient processing within the EU to meet the UK’s RoO criteria.

  • Pre-fabricated bathroom pods manufactured in Ireland and intended for a UK residential development could be subject to import duties if the manufacturing process in Ireland doesn’t satisfy the UK’s RoO requirements for prefabricated building units.

  • High-performance glazing imported from France for a sustainable office building project in London could incur import duties if the glazing fails to meet the minimum processing standards outlined in the UK-EU TCA for originating goods.

Building Resilience in the New Landscape:

The impact of RoO on the UK construction industry is undeniable. Businesses can take into account the following tactics to successfully navigate this new environment and guarantee project success:

  • Supply Chain Optimisation with AI-Powered Solutions:

    • Make a thorough analysis of current supply chains with iCustoms’ AI-powered tools. These tools can analyse vast amounts of data to identify the origin of all materials and assess the potential impact of RoO on project costs.

    • Leverage iCustoms’ risk assessment modules to proactively identify potential RoO compliance issues and areas where sourcing strategies must be adjusted.

  • Enhanced Collaboration and Transparency: 
    • iCustoms’ secure communication platform facilitates close collaboration with EU-based suppliers. Businesses can use this platform to understand suppliers’ RoO compliance efforts and explore alternative sourcing options within the UK or countries with favourable RoO agreements with the UK.
  • Expert Guidance and Streamlined Compliance: 
    • iCustoms offers a team of customs specialists and international trade consultants who can provide in-depth guidance on RoO compliance, customs procedures, and navigating the UK’s post-Brexit trade landscape.
    • iCustoms’ AI-powered solutions automate many aspects of customs documentation and data management, ensuring efficient and compliant import processes.

Saving Time and Simplifying Customs Declarations:

Traditional customs declarations can be complex and time-consuming, burdening construction projects with tight deadlines. iCustoms’ AI technology streamlines this process by:

  • Automating Data Entry:

    • Minimise manual data input by leveraging pre-populated forms and intelligent data capture from invoices and other documents.

  • Classification Assistance:
    • iCustoms’ AI helps classify construction materials accurately using the UK Trade Tariff Schedule, eliminating errors and potential delays.
  • Real-Time Compliance Checks:
    • The platform performs instant compliance checks to ensure all documentation meets RoO requirements and avoids costly penalties.


The UK construction industry is adapting to a new reality shaped by RoO. While these regulations present challenges, proactive companies that invest in understanding RoO requirements, optimising supply chains with AI-powered solutions from iCustoms, and seeking expert guidance can mitigate risks, ensure efficient project completion within budget, and contribute to the nation’s continued infrastructure development.

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About iCustoms

iCustoms is an all-in-one solution helping businesses automate customs processes more efficiently. With AI-powered and machine-learning capabilities, iCustoms is designed to streamline your all customs procedures in a few minutes, cut additional costs and save time.


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