What is a certificate of origin?

A certificate of origin is a document that verifies a product's country of origin. It states where the product was produced, manufactured or processed. It's usually required by a country's customs authority as part of the clearance process when importing.

Why is a certificate of origin necessary?

If you're shipping internationally, you may need to get a certificate of origin (COO) for the goods you're sending.

A COO is often required when the country of origin needs to be known for economic, political or environmental reasons, like if there are import quotas, a boycott or anti-dumping measures in place.

If you're shipping between countries that share a trade agreement, a COO proves to the customs authorities that the goods are eligible for reduced import duties or taxes.

Some animal and plant products subject to the CITES agreement also require a certificate of origin.

How do I find out if I need one?

Check with your local chamber of commerce.

How do I get a certificate of origin?

You can apply for one at your local chamber of commerce — bear in mind, that you will need one per every shipment sent.

In some countries you can apply for a COO directly online. In other countries you fill in a standard certificate of origin form and submit it to your local chamber of commerce to be stamped and approved.

Since applying for a certificate of origin can be complicated, to save time you can get a representative, such as a freight forwarder, to apply for you.

And bear in mind that some countries require the certificate to be legally approved by an embassy or ministry of foreign affairs, which can take more time.

What are the different types?

There are two kinds of certificate of origin:

Non-preferential COO

This means the goods don’t qualify for any special treatment in the country they’re from. It’s only used to state the origin of your goods.

Preferential

This is for shipments between countries with a trade agreement and proves the goods qualify for reduced import duties.

Which countries require a certificate of origin?

A COO can be required by any country for any product, so it's important to check with your local chamber of commerce if it's necessary.

Some international trade relationships that commonly require a certificate of origin are:

  • For shipping from the European Union to a country with an EU trade agreement – use a EUR.1 document or EUR-MED document
  • For shipping between Canada, the US and Mexico – use a NAFTA certificate of origin
  • For shipping between the US, Central America and the Dominican Republic  – use a CAFTA-DR certificate of origin
  • For shipping to some countries in the Middle East and Africa – a certificate of origin is often required
  • For shipping to some countries in Asia, such as China, India, Malaysia or Singapore – a certificate of origin is often required

What details do I need to include on a certificate of origin form?

  • The exporter's name and contact information
  • The producer's name and contact information (if different from exporter)
  • The receiver’s name and contact information
  • A clear goods description including HS code, quantity and weight
  • The country of origin
  • Air waybill number 
  • Means of transport and route details (optional)
  • Remarks (optional)
  • Commercial invoice number(s) and date(s) (optional)

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