What is a Certificate of Origin?
A Certificate of Origin (CO) is an important international trade document attesting that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country. COs also constitute a declaration by the exporter.
Millions of COs are issued every year, facilitating trade around the world. Since as early as 1898, Chambers of commerce have been issuing non-preferential COs and more recently, closely working with Customs authorities, issuing preferential COs.
The 1923 Geneva Convention and subsequent Kyoto Convention have seen governments formally recognize the important role chambers play in this domain, deeming them competent authorities and credible trusted third-parties in the issuance of COs.
Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining the duty that will be applied to the goods or, in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all.
In addition, COs may be needed to comply with letters of credit, foreign customs requirements or a buyer's request.
Two major types of COs
The main type issued by chambers are "
", i.e. "ordinary COs" which certify that the country of origin of a particular product does not qualify for any preferential treatment.
" refer to COs which enable products to enjoy tariff reduction or exemption when they are exported to countries extending these privileges: e.g. GSP, Commonwealth Preference Certificate. Certificates of Origin may be needed to comply with Letters of Credit, foreign Customs requirements or a buyer's request.
In most countries, Chambers of commerce are the key agent in the delivery of certificates of origin. However, in some countries, this privilege may also be extended to other bodies such as ministries or customs authorities.
Why are Certificates of Origin Important?
Introducing our Certificates of Origin activities
World Chambers Federation’s CO services
Certificate of Origin Guidelines
establishes the standard procedures for issuing and attesting COs by Chambers. This set of international standard rules and procedures reinforces the trust and integrity of the CO Chain, not only for benefiting traders but also Customs administrations.
- Support transparent issuance standard procedures
- Provide assurance for independent, responsible, and accountable issuance
- Give credibility to the COs issued by chambers of commerce
- Raise the level of acceptance by customs administrations and the business community
Building upon these guidelines, WCF provides a critical advocacy and representation role at the global level, from the promotion of the role of chambers as competent authorities in the issuance of preferential COs to the recognition and acceptance of
by governments and Customs administrations.
WCF provides an international
accreditation system for chambers
, creating a vital global CO Chain which aims to reinforce their interconnections in delivering and
this important service to the trade community. Moreover, WCF also provides
training and capacity building programmes
to support this work.
The issuance of CO is an important function and the majority of governments and government agencies rely on the expertise and network of Chambers of Commerce as they have reliable and creditable track record with the first CO issued as early as April 1898.
Following the signing of the 1923 Geneva Convention, governments of developed and developing nations began delegating the issuance of CO to Chambers which are deemed to be competent organizations and are also regarded as an accountable and trusted third-party with neutrality and impartiality in the issuance of CO.
ICC WCF International Certificate of origin Council is being set up to enhance and promote the unique position of Chambers as the natural agent in the issuance of trade documents.
This is to be achieved through the following strategies:
1. Coordinated and vigorous lobbying with international, regional and national governments and agencies, through ICC structures.
2. Establishment of an International Certificates of Origin Accreditation Chain, based on the International CO Guidelines, which establishes international best practice for issuance procedures: to give assurance to businesses, traders, banks and Customs Administrations of integrity, transparent, independent, responsible and accountable issuance.
3. Development of a series of international training programmes to enhance and raise the level of Chambers' professionalism and competency in CO issuance.
4. Helping Chambers in the identification and use of advanced technologies in the delivery of Certificates of Origin and trade documents.
5. Call for the liberalization of issuance of Preferential CO to Chambers by Customs authorities.
6. Call for the recognition and acceptance of electronic CO by governments.
The CO Brochure is available in the following languages and can be downloaded here: