European Union high-quality beef and grain-fed beef quotas

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment manages 2 European Union (EU) beef quotas, which were put in place by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT):

  • High-quality beef (HQB)
  • Grain-fed beef.

Australian exporters can export specific quantities of eligible products to the EU at reduced or zero tariff rates through these quotas.


Currently 7,150 tonnes of HQB can be exported to the EU each year at an ad valorem tariff rate of 20% (ad valorem is levying of customs duties in proportion to the estimated value of the goods).

Demand for access to this quota traditionally exceeds the amount of quota available and therefore the department implements an annual allocation process.

Key dates to remember

15 February—Deadline for declaration of unused quota entitlement
16 May—Deadline for HQB exporters to apply for a quota allocation
1 July—New quota year commences
30 June—Quota year ends

Grain-fed beef

The 45,000-tonne grain-fed beef quota can be accessed by Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Uruguay and Argentina. As such, the zero tariff grain-fed quota is not allocated but available on a first-come, first-served (FCFS) basis. This quota is managed by the EU and access to it cannot be guaranteed even with an Australian Government quota certificate.

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Current quota usage

The quota usage report shows the total quantity of quota held and shipped by Australia for the following commodities: EU HQB, EU sheepmeat and US beef. The report is updated twice a week and at the end of each month.

The department does not provide data on grain-fed beef as it is an EU-managed global quota.

Check the current quota usage for EU HQB.

Apply for an allocation of EU HQB quota

There are different allocation processes for HQB new entrants and existing HQB entitlement holders.

Application forms are sent out to all licensed meat exporters prior to the start of the quota year. Forms must be submitted prior to the close of business on 16 May for the next quota year.

New entrants are able to access 500 tonnes in total of the available quota. Exporters are considered new entrants for a period of 3 years, until they are able to develop a shipping history. First-year new entrants are invited to apply for an allocation of up to 12 tonnes. New entrants are eligible for an allocation of up to 36 tonnes.

The amount of HQB quota to be allocated to both new entrants and existing entitlement holders is calculated based on past shipping history, status and penalties. Once allocations have been determined, each applicant is then notified of their HQB quota allocation for the next quota year.

Apply for an EU beef quota certificate (HQB and grain-fed)

To apply for a quota certificate for a consignment of HQB or grain-fed beef, you must lodge a request for permit (RFP) through the department’s electronic documentation system, EXDOC.

Once your RFP has gone to ‘complete’ status in EXDOC, the data will go through to the Quota Unit on the next business day and a quota certificate will be printed. The original and 2 copies are mailed to you and a copy is kept by the Quota Unit.

If your quota certificate needs to be altered in any way, you must notify the Quota Unit and a replacement certificate can be issued. For the replacement certificate to be issued, the original and the 2 copies must first be returned to the Quota Unit. Once received, the replacement can be mailed to you.

Apply for first-come, first-served (FCFS) quota for EU HQB

After 15 February in the quota year, lapsed or voluntarily returned quota is reallocated.

To receive a FCFS quota allocation, you must apply prior to 15 February.

If quota is still unallocated following this process, it will be made available via complete requests for permits on a first come, first served basis.

Airfreighting consignments

Airfreight consignments may require urgent documentation and the Quota Unit will endeavour to process these manually if requested.

If an airfreight certificate is required urgently, email the Quota Unit with RFP number of the consignment that requires a manual certificate. The email must be received by the Quota Unit no later than 2:00pm (Canberra time) for same-day processing. Processing of same day certificates cannot be guaranteed. Processing is dependent on staff availability and couriers.

When generated, the certificate will be sent to you by Express Post or couriered (if you have provided the Quota Unit with courier bags and consignment notes).

2020 quota entitlement holders (last updated 1 April 2020)

This listing of current standard quota entitlement holders can be used to check which exporters hold quota, should another exporter wish to approach them for a transfer.

2020 Entitlement holders list


Transfer of entitlement to another exporter

If existing entitlement holders wish to transfer their quota, they can do so by using this form:

Request to transfer annual EU HQB or sheepmeat quota entitlements (MQ01).

Penalties apply to excess transfers of EU beef. Exporters cannot transfer more than 50% of their quota entitlement in the past 3 years, or 33% of quota entitlement in any 2 consecutive years of the preceding 4 years. Those allocated new entrant or FCFS quota cease to be able to transfer quota.


The EU beef quotas are governed by the Export Control (High Quality Beef Export to the European Union Tariff Rate Quotas) Order 2016. This order outlines the rules for how to apply for quota, and how quota allocations are calculated. Exporters should be familiar with the order.

Data collection

The Quota Unit collects and manages the data presented on this website for commercial and government use. The data comes from the RFPs received through EXDOC.

Contact us

For queries or assistance with EU HQB or grain-fed quota, contact the Quota Unit:

Phone: 02 6272 4068
Email: Quota Admin

Last reviewed: 3 April 2020
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