A Certificate of Origin (CO) is a document that verifies the country of origin of the goods. It includes details on where the product was produced, manufactured, or processed.
The document is used for international trade and is usually required for customs clearance. The CO helps determine if goods meet the requirements for import and if they are subject to duties.
Types of Certificate of Origin
There are 2 types of COs – non-preferential and preferential.
Non-preferential Certificate of Origin
Non-preferential COs, also known as normal COs, are issued to goods that are not subject to any special treatment (e.g. reduced or exempted tariffs). These documents are simply to certify the origin of the goods and can be authorized by the Chamber of Commerce.
They are required for the purpose of calculating the duties to be charged.
Preferential Certificate of Origin
Preferential COs are issued to goods that are subject to reduced or no tariffs when they are exported to countries with a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in place.
Countries That Require a Certificate of Origin
Most international shipments typically require a CO for customs clearance. However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) no longer requires a separate document. Importers can state the country of origin in the commercial invoice unless there is a FTA in place. In such cases, a preferential CO is required.
It is advisable to check with your local Chamber of Commerce if a CO is required to export to certain countries.
How To Get a Certificate of Origin
With digitalization, COs can be notarized electronically or physically. The former is also known as e-COs. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is pushing for e-COs to improve efficiency for all parties involved.
Steps to retrieving physical CO
- Fill out and notarize an affidavit (a statement of fact that is signed).
- Prepare the commercial invoice or manufacturer’s invoice to indicate where your goods were manufactured.
- Complete a Certificate of Origin form.
- Submit the above documents (affidavit, commercial invoice, and CO) to your local Chamber of Commerce via courier service.
- Once notarized, arrange for a courier to pick up the CO.
Steps to retrieving e-CO
- Create an account with an accredited Chamber of Commerce.
- Fill out the digital forms.
- Prepare a soft copy of the commercial invoice or manufacturer’s invoice to indicate where your goods were manufactured.
- Submit the above documents electronically.
- The e-CO will be sent to you via email or made available for downloading via the online portal.
The biggest difference between a paper and e-CO is the waiting time. Physical COs may take days or even weeks to process while e-COs typically take 1 to 2 days.
The cost of paper COs is generally higher due to the processing and courier fees involved. For high-volume exporters, e-COs may be a more cost-efficient method.
As exporters are not subject to the opening hours of their local Chamber of Commerce, they are able to submit their e-CO application at any time of the day. Also, once the e-CO is notarized by the relevant authorities, exporters can simply print it out at their own convenience.
Certificate of Origin Template — How To Fill In
While there is no standardized template for COs, it should include the following basic details of the product that is being shipped:
- Shipper’s and receiver’s names and complete addresses
- Third-party or shipper’s details
- Country of Origin of goods
- Product information: a complete description of the goods, weight, type, quantity and Tariff/Harmonized System (HS) Code
The CO is typically prepared by the exporter or manufacturer. It will then be passed on to the local Chamber of Commerce with the commercial invoice for notarization.