What Is a Certificate of Origin (CO)
A certificate of origin (CO) is a document that declares which country a commodity comes from. The information contained within the certificate provides detail on the product, its destination, and the country of export.
There are a number of reasons why it is important for border officials to be able to determine what products are coming into a country. This is why having a CO is so important. It equips countries with the ability to authenticate the origin of goods coming into a country.
Without this document, it would be very difficult for exporters to authenticate where their product is manufactured.
Oftentimes labels can be seen on products that state where it was manufactured, for example “Made in China.” Certificate of Origins are required for many treaty agreements for cross-country trade, so having this certification will help determine whether the goods set for import are eligible to enter a country and whether any duties will be applied.
While certificates of origin are often used for international commerce, they are not always requested. However, it’s good practice to always have a certificate so the Canadian Chamber of Commerce can verify the authenticity of the goods being transported into the country.
COs can either be on paper or in digital format, but must be approved by the customs or chamber of commerce of the country the goods are being imported to.
Understanding Certificates of Origin
A certificate of origin is a separate document from a commercial invoice or packing list. Customs in countries have an expectation that the CO be signed by the exporter and that signature needs to be notarized. The document should also be signed and stamped by a chamber of commerce.
Sometimes the customs authority may require importers to show proof of review from a specific chamber of commerce for goods coming into the country.
Typically, chambers of commerce will only certify what they can authenticate. However, if the chamber is unable to authenticate the details of the product, the chamber should stamp the documents attesting to the person and the identity of the signatory.
The chamber of commerce’s official stamp and the signature of an authorized chamber representative is usually all the proof that is needed.
With the growing use of technology, some countries will allow electronically issued certificates of origin that contain an electronic signature by a chamber of commerce. A certificate of origin is sometimes also required by the buyer for use in a letter of credit.
Take note that if you plan to use an electronic certificate of origin, there is a list of required documentation that must be submitted online to get the document stamped by the chamber of commerce within a day. Another option is to have a paper certificate expedited to you overnight.
Two Types of COs
It’s important to know that there is no standard certificate of origin form that is used in international trade. However, COs that are prepared for exporting goods have some basic detail about the product being transported, a tariff code, the exporter and importer, and the country the product is manufactured in.
An exporter should take note of what the border control requirements of the importing country are and be sure to document the details of the product and get the CO notarized by a chamber of commerce. In addition, the exporter should submit all the paperwork with the shipment.
The amount of detail required about the product depends on the type of goods being exported and their destination.
Non-preferential and preferential certificates of origin are the two types of certification used in global trade. Non-preferential certificates of origin, also referred to as ordinary COs, means that the goods being exported are not eligible for reduced tariffs or tariff-free passage under the trade agreements between the two countries. Preferential certificates of origin are the opposite and allow for a relief on tariffs.
You can obtain certificate of origin templates and then fill in the specific information needed for the country you will be exporting goods to. Keep in mind that the certificate of origin should be filled in but not signed. The signing of the certificate should be in the presence of an appointed notary public. All of our notaries at GK Notary have been appointed by the ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario.
Steps for Obtaining a Paper Certificate of Origin
To complete a certificate of origin in Canada, you must:
- Complete the form and have it notarized by an authorized public notary like GK Notary.
- Be able to present an invoice created by the manufacturer or a commercial invoice that indicates where the goods are manufactured.
- Fill in the document.
- Submit a notarized affidavit along with the certificate of origin and the appropriate invoices to your chamber of commerce.