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.

What is a Certificate of Origin?

COs also constitue a declaration by the exporter. Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining what duty will be assessed on the goods or, in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all.

Introduction to Certificates of Origin activities

Two major types of COs

The main type issued by chambers are "Non-Preferential COs", i.e. “ordinary COs” which certify that the country of origin of a particular product does not qualify for any preferential treatment.

"Preferential COs" 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.

Chambers Authority

The role of chambers of commerce delivering certificates of origin can be traced back to the 1923 Geneva Convention relating to the Simplification of Customs Formalities, Article 11 (eventually updated by the Kyoto Convention).

Under the Convention, its signatory governments were obliged to make the process and procedures as simple as possible for companies requiring certificates of origin. In addition, it was specified that the State may allow these certificates to be issued by other organizations, "which possess the necessary authority and offer the necessary guarantees" to the State.

Thus, due to the widespread network of the chamber of commerce community, chambers of commerce are authorized to issue certificates of origin today.

Companies may consult the WCN Chamber of Commerce Directory (www.worldchambers.com) to find their nearest chamber who may offer this service.