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Demystifying Certificates of Origin

What is a Certificate of Origin, and When is it Necessary for Businesses? We Explain...

Rules of Origin by Customs Manager Ltd
Rules of Origin are the foundation for issuing Certificates of Origin

According to the International Chamber of Commerce:

A Certificate of Origin (CO) confirms the ‘nationality’ of a product and serves as a declaration to satisfy customs or trade requirements. COs are mostly required for customs clearance procedures to determine duties or legitimacy of imports.
One-time documents called Certificates of Origin are sent with your shipments.

"Certificates of Origin" certify that goods in a shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country.

Local Chambers of Commerce can usually issue two types:

  • Non-Preferential COs – known as ‘Normal COs’ for goods that are not subject to preferential treatment.

  • Preferential COs – issued for goods subject to reduced tariffs or exemptions and tend to be associated with Regional Trade Agreements.

Preferential Certificate of Origin

Chambers of Commerce offer preferential of origin and issue these for a fee.

These are relevant only where the importer wishes to reduce customs duty (even up to zero) in the context of Free Trade Agreements.

The importer may ask the exporter to supply them with a Preferential Certificate of Origin where other "proofs of origin" are not available and where specifically foreseen in FTAs and or authorised by the importing country authorities.

Preferential Certificates of Origin are mostly not legally required, as instead, the applicable trade agreements would state the appropriate ways to demonstrate preferential origin

For example, under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a claim for preferential treatment can be made if the importer has one of the following proofs of origin:

  • a statement on origin that the product is originating, made out by the exporter

  • importer’s knowledge that the product is originating.

Example: A UK business that exports to Ireland would not require a formal Certificate of Origin issued by a Chamber of Commerce to benefit from preferential duties as long as a Statement on Origin is included in the commercial paperwork.

A claim for preference and the ‘presentation’ of the proof of origin is usually included on the customs declaration to enter the goods into free circulation. To find out more about the EU-UK TCA Statement on Origin, click here.

Non-Preferential Certificates of Origin

The majority of origin certificates issued do NOT deal with "preference." They serve as a means of ascertaining the country of origin to compute the applicable customs duties that a country will charge to the importer under normal trade conditions. They also applied to policy measures such as safety precautions, anti-dumping laws, or trade embargoes.

What Establishes the Origin Country?

The components or ingredients in your product, their place of origin, and the location of the production process all contribute to determining the country of origin. The ICC defines it as follows in their Guidance on non-preferential rules of origin:

When goods are manufactured in two or more countries, non-preferential origin is obtained where the goods underwent their last significant, economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose, resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing a critical stage of manufacture. Alternatively, the origin is obtained where the goods are "wholly obtained" in one country.

Your local Chamber of Commerce will decide on it using the information you must provide. You can also contact us and we can provide our assessment of hte country of origin.

What is required to request a Certificate of Origin?

Depending on whether you are the manufacturer of the goods, a trader reselling the goods, or a logistics service provider acting on behalf of either, you must request a certificate of origin differently. For example, you submit a production process description if you are the producer. If you are a logistics service provider or trader, you must present a declaration from your supplier detailing the products' place of origin.

When Is a Certificate of Origin Required?

Certain nations demand a certificate of origin before allowing goods into their borders. They might also wish to restrict imports from particular countries for political or economic reasons.

If you are uncertain what is required, you can contact us to assess what you need.

Our Recommendation

The process of exporting goods can be complex and perplexing. Among other crucial things, you must confirm that all export documentation is in order and that you have the appropriate HS codes. Please contact one of our specialists if you have any questions or require help with exporting or customs procedures. Furthermore, join our Rules of Origin and other customer training at ⇒ events. You can get free updates on customs matters at (just leave your e-mail address) and book a free advice call at -> Book Expert Call.

More Information & Links

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