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USMCA/CUSMA: our best advice for importers

What have we learned?

Here are some common issues we’ve been seeing importers struggling with—and our advice for making the process smoother.

The top two stumbling blocks

The two biggest issues we’re seeing are:CUSMA_111176565_s

  1. Goods not meeting the rules of origin
  2. Importers creating their own certificates of origin

Goods must meet the new USMCA/CUSMA product-specific rules of origin regardless of when they were manufactured. This means that some goods manufactured during NAFTA times may no longer qualify as originating under the new agreement.

Importers may only complete the certificate on the basis of: 

  • knowledge that the good originates; 
  • reasonable reliance on the producer’s written representation that the good originates; or, 
  • a completed and signed Certificate of Origin for the good voluntarily provided to the importer/exporter by the producer.

Our advice for navigating the new rules

Ask your materials’ suppliers for certifications of origin under USMCA/CUSMA—even domestic suppliers.

Importers must have all necessary information to complete the certification of origin, including documents that demonstrate that the good is originating from the actual producer.

Remember that the rules are based on possibly two tests: 

  1. Percentage of added domestic cost: those costs associated with supplies from domestic sources of originating materials, or value added directly by the producer (such as labour and overhead).
  2. Transformation test: changing the material into a new and distinct product, one that takes on a new name, appearance, part number and cost.

The best references

While (unfortunately) nothing is simple under USMCA/CUSMA, here are some of our favorite resources for importers:

  1. Complying with CUSMA: What Canadian exporters, importers need to know
  2. CBSA’s Memorandum D11-5-17
  3. Office of the United States Trade Representative text on USMCA/CUSMA origin procedures 


It’s been a challenging year navigating not just a new North American trade agreement, but a global pandemic seriously impacting global trade.

We asked our Consulting department for their advice on how best to work with their Customs brokers and consulting partners as they navigate both USMCA/CUSMA and the supply chain disruptions resulting from Covid:

  • Seek expert advice you can trust. Now is the time to make sure you and your broker/consultant are working as partners. 
  • Work with your suppliers to ensure they understand their liability—make sure you are as protected as you can be.
  • In order to avoid potential clearance problems (especially when your goods are cleared with a certificate), we strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the Customs rules and regulations. 
  • Be aware of any entry requirements specific to the particular commodity you are importing/exporting, including those of other federal agencies. 

Our consulting department is well-versed in the complexities of trade agreements, and particularly how changing agreements impact importers. We understand the new USCMA/CUSMA regulations and are ready to help you streamline your cross-border trade. Contact us today!

Get in touch now!

USMCA/CUSMA. It's what we do.

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