Non-Tariff Barriers

Non-Tariff Barriers – Simple Explanation and Examples

Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are regulatory measures other than tariffs that countries use to control the amount of trade across their borders. These measures can influence the availability of goods, the amount imported or exported, and the cost of doing business internationally.


Non-tariff barriers refer to restrictions or standards imposed by a country to control the quality, quantity, and nature of goods that can be imported or exported, without altering tariff laws. These measures often entail regulations, quotas, embargoes, sanctions, and administrative procedures that can complicate or restrict trade flows.

Examples of Non-Tariff Barriers

Understanding NTBs can be complex because they take many forms. Here are some common examples:

Import Quotas

Import quotas limit the number of certain goods that can be imported into a country. This measure controls the amount of products entering the market, aiming to protect domestic industries from foreign competition.

Example: A country might set a quota on the number of cars that can be imported each year to protect its domestic automobile industry.

Licenses and Permits

Certain products might require special licenses or permits to be imported. This measure ensures that only authorized entities can handle these goods, ensuring safety and compliance with national standards.

Example: Pharmaceuticals and chemicals often require special import licenses and permits to ensure they meet safety and regulatory standards.

Standards and Regulations

Many countries impose strict standards and regulations on products entering their markets. These can include sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical standards, and safety requirements.

Example: Agricultural products might need to comply with stringent health and safety standards to prevent the spread of pests or diseases.

Customs Procedures

Complicated customs procedures can act as NTBs by increasing the time and cost of importing goods. Documentation requirements, inspections, and lengthy delays can all serve as barriers.

Example: Requiring multiple forms of documentation, detailed inspections, and lengthy processing times before goods are cleared through customs.


While subsidies are typically financial aids given to domestic industries, they can act as NTBs by giving domestic products an unfair price advantage over imported goods.

Example: Government subsidies to local farmers can make domestically produced food cheaper than imported options, thereby discouraging imports.

Local Content Requirements

These policies mandate that a certain percentage of a finished product be made from domestically produced components.

Example: An electronic product sold in a country might be required to have at least 30% of its parts manufactured domestically.

Important Notes and Considerations

Impact on International Trade

  • Trade Negotiations: NTBs are critical points in international trade negotiations. Countries often seek to reduce these barriers to facilitate smoother and fairer trade relationships.
  • Compliance Costs: Meeting the various standards and procedures required by NTBs can add significant costs and time to the import/export process.
  • Market Access: NTBs can significantly limit market access for foreign companies, affecting global supply chains and market dynamics.

Strategic Use

  • Protecting Domestic Industries: Countries often use NTBs to protect emerging or sensitive domestic industries from international competition.
  • Ensuring Quality and Safety: NTBs like standards and regulations help in maintaining high quality and safety standards for products entering the domestic market.
  • Environmental Protection: NTBs can also serve environmental objectives by setting eco-friendly standards and regulations on imported goods.

Compliance Strategies

  • Due Diligence: Companies must conduct thorough research and stay informed about the specific NTBs applicable to their products in each target market.
  • Collaboration with Experts: Collaborating with customs brokers, legal experts, and relevant authorities can help navigate the complex landscape of NTBs.
  • Automation and Technology: Leveraging technology and software solutions for documentation and compliance can reduce the burden associated with meeting NTB requirements.


Non-tariff barriers are vital elements in the realm of international trade, impacting how goods are moved across borders. Understanding the types and implications of NTBs is critical for businesses engaged in import and export activities. While these barriers can protect domestic industries and ensure quality and safety, they also pose significant challenges in terms of compliance and costs.

For businesses navigating these complexities, eezyimport offers expert guidance and solutions to streamline customs clearance and compliance processes. Contact us for your customs-related needs and explore how we can help simplify your international trade operations.

Non-Tariff Barriers – FAQ

How do Non-Tariff Barriers affect international trade?

Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) influence international trade by setting various restrictions and requirements that goods must meet before entering or leaving a country. These measures can protect domestic industries, ensure product quality and safety, and serve environmental objectives. However, they can also increase costs and lead to delays in the import/export process, complicate compliance, and limit market access for foreign businesses.

What are some common examples of Non-Tariff Barriers?

NTBs come in various forms, including:

  • Import Quotas: Limits on the amount of a specific product that can be imported.
  • Licenses and Permits: Special permissions required to import certain products.
  • Standards and Regulations: Specific requirements related to health, safety, and quality of products.
  • Customs Procedures: Complex documentation and inspection requirements.
  • Subsidies: Financial support to domestic industries that create an unfair price advantage over imported goods.
  • Local Content Requirements: Mandates that a certain percentage of a product’s components be sourced domestically.

How can businesses effectively navigate Non-Tariff Barriers?

Businesses can manage NTBs by:

  • Conducting Due Diligence: Researching and staying informed about the NTBs applicable to their products in each market.
  • Collaborating with Experts: Engaging customs brokers, legal advisors, and relevant authorities to help navigate NTB complexities.
  • Leveraging Technology: Using software solutions for documentation and compliance to streamline the process.
  • Planning and Preparation: Allocating resources to meet NTB requirements and avoid potential delays or penalties.
eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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