Certificate of Origin Procedures in the United States
- 1 Certificate of Origin Procedures in the United States
- 1.1 Certificate of Origin (COO)
- 1.2 Certificate of Origin Issuing Procedure
- 1.3 NAFTA: Certificate of Origin
- 1.4 Procedures in General
- 1.5 Acceptable Formats for the NAFTA Certificate of Origin
- 1.6 Recordkeeping
- 1.7 Enforcement and Penalties
- 1.8 Resources
Certificate of Origin (COO)
Required by some countries. A signed statement as to the origin of the export item.
Specific certificates of origin are sometimes required for countries involved in special tradebagreements, such as the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA), which was signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States. For example, a NAFTA certificate of origin validates that a good originated in a NAFTA country and is eligible for the preferential duty rate.
Certificate of Origin Issuing Procedure
Certificates of origin are usually validated by a semiofficial organization, such as a local chamber of commerce. A certificate may be required even if the commercial invoice contains the same information.
Some countries (i.e., numerous Middle Eastern countries) require that certificate of origin be notarized, certified by local chamber of commerce and legalized by the commercial section of the consulate of the destination country. For certain Middle Eastern countries,the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce may also provide such services.
For textile products, an importing country may require a certificate of origin issued by the manufacturer. The number of required copies and language may vary from country to country.
If a good does not qualify for a free trade agreement, a generic certificate of origin may be issued.
The exporter should verify whether a certificate of origin is required with the buyer and/or an experienced shipper/freight forwarder or the U.S. Commercial Service. Note: Some countries (i.e., several Middle Eastern countries) require that a generic certificates of origin be notarized, certified by a local chamber of commerce, and legalized by the commercial section of the consulate of the destination country. For certain Middle Eastern countries, the National U.S.–Arab Chamber of Commerce may also provide such services.
For textile products, an importing country may require a certificates of origin issued by the manufacturer. The number of required copies and the language it is written in may vary by country.
In addition, certificates of origin for goods that don’t qualify for FTAs can be obtained from a local chamber of commerce or at ecertify.com (a private vendor). Note that some chambers won’t issue certificates of origin or will only issue them to their members. Also keep in mind that certificates will only be issued for goods made in the U.S.
A buyer may also ask the exporter to certify the origin of a product.
NAFTA: Certificate of Origin
This is a trilaterally agreed upon form used by Canada, Mexico, and the United States to certify that goods qualify for the preferential tariff treatment accorded by NAFTA. The Certificate of Origin must be completed by the exporter. A producer or manufacturer may also complete a certificate of origin in a NAFTA territory to be used as a basis for an Exporter’s Certificate of Origin. To make a claim for NAFTA preference, the importer must possess a certificate of origin at the time the claim is made.
Procedures in General
Note: this section and the following sections are based on a U.S. Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) directive issued on July 26, 2005, which updates policy guidelines for the NAFTA Certificate of Origin (Certificate) for importations of goods into the United States on which NAFTA preferential tariff treatment is claimed.
- Import Specialists shall request copies of Certificates, and translations thereof,
as necessary to substantiate claims for preferential NAFTA treatment. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection shall give importers a reasonable amount of time to submit a Certificate; generally 30 days.
- If the Import Specialist determines that a Certificate is not signed, not dated, is
illegible, or has not been completed in accordance with 19 CFR 181.22(b), the importer
shall be given a period of not less than 5 working days to perfect the claim. If the
importer fails to submit a valid Certificate after this request from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Import Specialist may deny the claim for NAFTA benefits.
- In situations where the Certificate was not signed, not dated, or was dated after
the date of the claim, the importer must provide proof that a signed and correctly dated
Certificate was in the importer’s possession on the date the claim was made. Failure to
provide Import Specialists with such proof will result in the denial of the claim.
- Certificates submitted as part of a 520(d) post-importation claim may be dated on
or before the date of the post-importation claim.
- Import Specialists shall deny claims, and consider the assessment of penalties, if
it is determined that an importer did not possess a valid Certificate at the time the claim
for preferential NAFTA treatment was made, and the Port Director did not in writing
waive this requirement per 19 CFR 181.22(d)(i).
- False statements made in connection with the claim will result in denial of the
claim and assessment of penalties as provided by law.
- When issuing a negative determination, the Import Specialist shall notify the
importer of his protest rights under 19 USC 1514(a)(7) and 19 CFR 174.12(e)(2). (See
Attachment A for sample wording for a NAFTA “denial” letter sent to the importer for
failure to provide the Certificate to CBP upon request.) The Import Specialist shall
consider a protest filed against a refusal to liquidate or reliquidate a NAFTA claim made
under 19 U.S.C. 1520(d).
- A negative determination for a good on a blanket Certificate covers all identical
goods, as defined in 19 CFR 181 Appendix Section 2 (1), on that Certificate.
- When two or more negative determinations indicate a pattern of false or
unsupported NAFTA claims, the Import Specialist should deny subsequent claims for
NAFTA preference on identical goods until compliance is established.
- An exporter or producer who completes and signs a Certificate, and who has reason to believe that the Certificate contains information that is not correct, shall promptly notify in writing all persons to whom he or she gave the Certificate of any change that could affect the accuracy or validity of the Certificate.
- For goods covered by a blanket Certificate, it is the exporter’s responsibility to
advise the importer of any significant changes in, for example, sourcing materials or
production methods that may affect the NAFTA claim and furnish the importer with a
new Certificate. Producers who provide a Certificate to an exporter must likewise notify
the exporter of any such changes.
- An importer who receives information that a Certificate is not valid must make a
corrected declaration of origin within 30 days of discovery, and pay any applicable
duties, provided the liquidation of the entry summary is not yet final. Failure to correct a
declaration that is known to contain inaccurate information may result in the assessment
Acceptable Formats for the NAFTA Certificate of Origin
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection will accept three types of Certificates:
- The official CBP Form 434;
- the Alternate CBP Form 434 (Alt 434); and
- the Computer-Generated Alternated CBP Form 434.
- CBP Form 434: The official Certificate of Origin form is available through local the U.S. Customs and Border Protection port offices or via the internet by selecting “forms” at the CBP website. Field-by-field instructions for completing the CBP Form 434 are provided on the back of the form. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection will accept original CBP Form 434s, photocopies, facsimiles, and Certificates scanned on a computer disc.
- Alternate 434 (Alt 434): The Alt 434 must be legibly printed or typed in full by the exporter and be in the possession of the importer at the time the NAFTA claim is made, unless the Port Director has in writing waived the requirement for a Certificate in accordance with
19 CFR 181.22 (d) (i). CBP will accept original Alt 434s, photocopies, facsimiles, and
Certificates scanned on a computer disc. This document may also be completed
voluntarily by the producer for use by the exporter.
An Alt 434 is valid as long as it contains all the information below.
- Full legal name, address (including country), and legal tax identification number
of the exporter.
- If the Certificate covers multiple shipments of identical goods for a specified
period of up to 1 year (blanket period), it must include the date upon which the
Certificate becomes applicable to the good covered by the blanket Certificate
(“FROM” date), and the date upon which the blanket period expires (“TO” date).
The importation of a good for which preferential tariff treatment is claimed based
on this Certificate must occur between these dates.
- Legal name, address (including country) and legal tax identification number of
the producer. If more than one producer’s good is included on the Alt 434, a list
of the additional producers, including the legal name, address (including country)
and legal tax identification number must be attached. If the importer requests
this information to be confidential, he/she may state “Available to CBP upon
request”. Indicate whether the producer and the exporter are the same, or if the
producer is unknown.
- Legal name, address (including country) and legal tax identification number of
the importer. If the importer is not known, state “UNKNOWN”; if multiple
importers, state “VARIOUS.”
- Full description of each good. The description should be sufficient to relate it to
the invoice description and to the Harmonized System (H.S.) description of the
good. If the Certificate covers a single shipment of a good, include the invoice
number as shown on the commercial invoice. If not known, indicate another
unique reference number, such as the shipping order number.
- The H.S. tariff classification to six digits. If the good is subject to a specific rule of
origin in Annex 401 that requires eight digits, identify to eight digits, using the
H.S. tariff classification of the country into whose territory the good is imported.
- Preference criterion (A through F).
- Exporter must indicate whether he/she is the producer of the good. If the
exporter is not the producer of the good, he/she must indicate whether the claim
is based on knowledge of whether the good qualifies as an originating good;
reliance on the producer’s written representation (other than a Certificate of
Origin) that the good qualifies as an originating good; or a completed and signed
Certificate for the good, voluntarily provided to the exporter by the producer.
- Where the good is subject to a regional value content (RVC) requirement,
indicate “NC” if the RVC is calculated according to the net cost method;
otherwise, indicate “NO”. If the RVC is calculated according to the net cost
method over a period of time, further identify the beginning and ending date of
that period. (Reference: Articles 402.1, and 402.5).
- Identify the name of the country (“CA” or “MX”) to which the preferential rate of
customs duty applies.
- The following statement must be included, signed, and dated:
“I certify that:
The information on this document is true and accurate and I assume the
responsibility for proving such representations. I understand that I am liable for
any false statements or material omissions made on or in connection with
I agree to maintain, and present upon request, documentation necessary to
support this certificate, and to inform, in writing, all persons to whom this
certificate was given of any changes that could affect the accuracy or validity of
The goods originated in the territory of one or more of the parties, and comply
with the origin requirements specified for those goods in the North American Free
Trade Agreement. There has been no further production or any other operation
outside the territories of the parties, other than unloading, reloading, or any other
operation necessary to preserve it in good condition or to transport the good to
the United States.
This certification consists of _______ pages, including all attachments.”
Computer-Generated Alternate 434
- Computer-Generated Alt 434s must be preapproved in writing by the Office of
Field Operations in Washington, DC before use. This preapproval process is necessary
to ensure the validity of the computer-generated certification. Importers may apply for
approval of their Computer-Generated Alt 434 to the Trade Agreements Branch, Office
of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Room 5.2A, 1300
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20229.
- The Computer-Generated Alt 434 must include screen prints or a report
containing all of the required elements listed in Section 5.2.2. Because these screen
prints and/or reports will be generated by the importer’s computer software, the importer
must include a key or schematic clearly relating the required data elements. There is no
specific order or format for these data elements. Computer screen prints should be
numbered 1 of X to indicate the number of pages. Identical certification language shall
be included either as part of the Computer-Generated Alt 434 or as an attachment.
- In most cases, CBP anticipates that the use of Computer-Generated Alt 434s
will be by related parties with the importer of record submitting the Computer-Generated
Alt 434 on behalf of the exporter. Therefore, CBP may also request proof of power of
attorney for Computer-Generated Alt 434s that are generated by the importer on behalf
of the exporter. CBP may request proof that the information contained in the Certificate
was on file at the time the claim for preferential treatment was made. Import Specialists
may contact the Trade Agreements Branch to find out whether a Computer-Generated
Alt 434 has been preapproved by Headquarters. The importer of record may submit a
Computer-Generated Alt 434 that is signed and dated on the date the Certificate is
printed, which may be dated after the date of the claim.
- Importers using Computer-Generated Alt 434s must have an adequate
inventory management control system, recordkeeping system, and computer system
(capable of tracking changes to the originating status of inputs, while maintaining a fixed
creation date) and the ability to support the integrity of the data and any changes to the
data in order to provide CBP with an audit trail. Records subject to audit include
electronic records and any supporting hard copy source records necessary to establish
that the system was programmed to generate a valid Computer-Generated Alternate
- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection retains the right to audit a company’s records. Requirements for maintaining records by all applicable parties in support of the Computer-Generated Alternate Certificate are set forth in 19 CFR 181, and Part 163 of the Regulations and Article 505 of the NAFTA.
- Use of a Computer-Generated Alternate Certificate in no way alters the
responsibilities or requirements of the importer or exporter with respect to the NAFTA
and applicable laws and regulations. Failure to comply with the requirements stipulated
by this program, or the NAFTA, or applicable laws and regulations will result in
suspension or removal from the program and/or fines, penalties, or liquidated damages.
- The facts asserted in the Certificate must be supported by adequate records
relating to the good, its materials and production. All other requirements pertaining to
the NAFTA Certificate set forth in 19 CFR 181.22 remain in effect. CBP may deny a
claim if the exporter, producer, or their agents do not provide additional supporting
information when requested.
- All persons completing a Certificate or otherwise involved with the importation of
goods into the United States are subject to the recordkeeping requirements set forth in
19 CFR 163, and the Interim (a)(1)(a) List (19 CFR 163 Appendix). These provisions
obligate the parties to maintain records relating to the originating status and the
importation and entry of imported goods for a period of not less than 5 years. Failure to
maintain and provide such records upon request renders the party liable for
recordkeeping penalties per 19 U.S.C. 1508 and 19 U.S.C. 1509.
- Examples of such records include, but are not limited to, manufacturer, exporter
or material Certificates, and all other records supporting the NAFTA claim, such as
invoices, production records, bills of materials (complete with costs, originating status,
and names and locations of the manufacturers), as well as shipping and other
Enforcement and Penalties
- Failure to submit a Certificate and/or supporting documentation upon request,
failure to submit a corrected Certificate, or material false statements, acts or omissions,
shall result in the Import Specialist denying NAFTA preference.
- Material false statements, acts or omissions, or failure to maintain and provide
records, may result in civil or criminal penalties, including penalties for fraud, gross
negligence or negligence (19 U.S.C. 1592) or for recordkeeping (19 U.S.C. 1508 and 19
- Penalties under 19 USC 1592 may be assessed in an amount of up to the value
of the goods for fraudulent violations. The penalty for gross negligence is the lesser of
the value of the goods or 4 times the duties, taxes and fees, or 40 percent of the value,
if nondutiable. The penalty for negligence is the lesser of the value of the goods or two
times the duties, taxes and fees, or 20 percent of the value if nondutiable.
- Recordkeeping penalties under 19 U.S.C. 1508 relating to NAFTA exports are
subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000. Penalties under 19 U.S.C. 1509 for
willful failure to comply may be assessed in an amount of up to $100,000, or 75 percent
of the value of the merchandise per importation. If the violation is determined to be as a
result of negligence, the penalty may be assessed in an amount of up to $10,000, or 40
percent of the value per importation.
- Requirements for maintaining records by all applicable parties in support of the
NAFTA Certificate are set forth in 19 CFR 181, and Part 163 of the U.S. Customs and
Border Protection Regulations and Article 505 of NAFTA. These requirements cover
the Certificate, in all its forms as presented here (CBP Form 434, Privately-Printed
Alternate Certificate, Computer-Generated Alternate Certificate), as well as supporting
- A person who voluntarily makes a corrected declaration in accordance with
19 CFR 181.82 shall not be subject to civil or administrative penalties. However, a
person who acted by means of fraud in making an incorrect declaration or certification is
not afforded the same protections.
- Certificate of Origin
- Customs Law Procedures
- NAFTA Appeal Procedures
- Rules of Origin
- Advance Ruling Procedures
- Certificate of Review
- Record-keeping Requirements
- Trade Documentation
- Chamber of Commerce