A certificate of origin is a legal document that certifies a shipment’s country of origin. In the context of free trade agreements (FTAs), certificates of origin are required in order to qualify for a reduced duty rate. The rules around certificates of origin and associated duty relief are specific to each FTA.
Accurately prepared certificates of origin can provide the following benefits:
- Save you money on duties, offering you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
- Help protect you in case of customs audits.
- Help reduce the risk of being subject to duty reassessments.
As an importer, it’s in your best interests – and is your responsibility – to determine whether a certificate of origin is needed to qualify your goods for reduced duty.
The following steps will help ensure this process is smooth and efficient:
1. Learn the rules.
FTAs are complex. If all requirements are not met, you may be reassessed duty and need to pay years of retroactive interest and penalties.
2. Be specific in your requests.
Request certificates of origin only for the specific products you purchase from your suppliers, not for every product they carry.
3. Do your due diligence.
Review each certificate you receive, with you vendor, to confirm they have a process in place to verify the products you are importing qualify in accordance with the rules of the applicable FTA and confirm they maintain proper records to support the FTA status.
4. Make sure you trust your supplier.
You are relying on your supplier to qualify your imported products, so ensure they have the knowledge and experience to correctly apply the rules of origin to the goods you import. If a certificate is investigated and refused by customs, any duty reassessments will fall to you as the importer of record.
5. Ask for blanket certificates wherever possible.
A blanket certificate will cover importation of the same product for up to 12 months.
We have an experienced FTA department that can help you obtain and manage your FTA certificates and renewals. We also provide FTA verification services and training for importers and exporters wishing to capitalize on the benefits of these agreements.
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