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Completing the NAFTA Certificate of Origin — Part 2
by Sue Senger | Format for Print

Upon ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada, Mexico and the United States created a uniform Certificate of Origin to certify that goods imported into their territories qualify for preferential tariff treatment.

Only importers who possess a valid Certificate of Origin can claim this preferential tariff treatment. The Certificate of Origin summarizes the claim that goods qualify as originating and should therefore receive preferential tariff treatment.

Last month’s article explained when a NAFTA Certificate of Origin is and isn’t required. This month’s article explains how to complete the form. You can view a printable copy of the form at our website.

Field 1 – Exporter Name and Address

Complete with the full legal name, address, country and tax identification number of exporter.

Please Note: The legal tax identification number for Fields 1, 3 and 4 depends on the country:

For US exporters/importers, this number is the employer identification number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service. If you don’t have such a number, you may use your social security number.

For Canadian exporters/importers, use the employer number assigned by Revenue Canada or, if not available, the importer/exporter number assigned by Canada Customs.

For Mexican exporters/importers, use the federal taxpayer’s registry number (RFC).

Field 2 – Blanket Period

Complete Field 2 if the certificate covers multiple shipments of identical goods described in Field 5 that are imported into a NAFTA country for a specified period of up to one year (blanket period). “From” is the date upon which the certificate becomes applicable to the good covered by the blanket, and it may be prior to the date of signing this certificate.

Field 3 – Producer Name and Address

Complete with the full legal name, address, country and legal tax identification number of the producer. If you do not wish to disclose the producer’s name to the importer, it allows exporters to state “Available to Customs Upon Request.”

Field 4 – Importer Name and Address

State the full legal name, address, country and legal tax identification number of the importer. If the importer is not known because the certificate is being prepared by a producer at the exporter’s request, state “unknown.” If there are multiple importers, such as when the shipment is sent to a distribution center in-bond and goods are withdrawn by various importers, state “various.”

Field 5 – Description of Good(s)

Provide a full description of each good. The description should be sufficient to relate the good to the invoice description and the Harmonized System (HS) description of the good. It is the exporter’s responsibility to ensure that the description of goods covers only those goods that qualify under the rules of origin.

Field 6 – HS Tariff Classification Number

For each good described in Field 5, identify the HS classification to six digits. Note: NAFTA General Note 12 may require that some goods need an eight-digit classification numbers. If this is required, the eight-digit number is the classification number of the country importing the good.

Field 7 – Preference Criteria

This field identifies the “origin criterion” used as the basis of the preferential treatment. The criterion cited in this field is the foundation of the importer’s claim. You can review my article “Determining the origin of goods for NAFTA - Part 2” for more information about determining the proper preference criteria.

Field 8 - Producer

This field identifies the source of the Certificate of Origin information. If the exporter is not the producer, the exporter must identify the basis for completion of the document. For each good described in Field 5, state “yes” if you are the producer of the good.

If you are not the producer, state “no” followed by 1, 2 or 3:

  • No 1: Your knowledge of whether the good qualifies as an originating good.
  • No 2: Your reliance on the producer’s written representation (other than a certificate of origin) that the good qualifies as an originating good.
  • No 3: A completed and signed certificate for the good voluntarily provided to the exporter by the producer.

Field 9 – Net Cost

For each good described in Field 5, indicate “no” unless regional value content was used for NAFTA determination. Indicate “NC” if the net cost method was used.

Field 10 – Country of Origin

This field relates to eligible tariff preference and should be reviewed based on the country to which the shipment is destined. Identify the name of the country (MX or US for agricultural and textile goods exported to Canada; US or CA for all goods exported to Mexico; or CA or MX for all goods exported to the United States to which the preferential rate of customs duty applies as set out in Annex 302.2, in accordance with the Marking Rules or in each party’s schedule of tariff elimination.

For all other originating goods exported to Canada, indicate appropriately “MX or “US if the goods originate in that NAFTA country, within the meaning of Annex 302.2 and any subsequent processing in the other NAFTA country does not increase the transaction value of the goods by more than seven percent; otherwise indicate “JNT” for joint production.

Field 11 – Contact Information

This field must be completed, signed and dated by the exporter. When the certificate is completed by the producer for use by the exporter, it must be completed, signed and dated by the producer. The date indicates when the certificate was completed and signed.

The person who signs this declaration must be knowledgeable about the company’s products and have authority to commit the exporter. Custom authorities may question certification signed by clerks and others in the company who are neither knowledgeable nor authorized to represent the exporter.

All eleven fields must be filled out correctly. If an exporter or producer in the United States completes and signed a Certificate of Origin and has reason to believe that the certificate contains information that is incorrect, they have 30 calendar days to notify in writing all persons to whom the certificate was given of any changes that could affect the accuracy or validity of the certificate.

NAFTA defines a strict standard for rules of origin and procedures needed to define which goods are eligible for preferential tariff treatment. (See my seven-part series of articles reviewing the NAFTA rules of origin.)

Streamlined procedures are outlined for importers, exporters and manufactures of the three member countries, consisting of uniform resolutions to ensure continuity. Before a exporter or producer completes a certificate of origin, they must be certain that their products meet these standards.

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