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April 04, 2006 

CAFTA-DR Certificate of Origin Form

Now that the goods from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are now eligible to enter the U.S. under the U.S. - Central America - Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), as with all free trade agreements U.S. importers must obtain a certificate of origin from their supplier in order to claim preferential duty status. U.S. exporters are also required to provide their customers with a certificate of origin to claim preferential duty status for goods being exported to El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Unlike NAFTA, there is no official CAFTA-DR certificate of origin form. Rather, Article 4.16 of the CAFTA-DR agreement provides that claims for preferential treatment may be made in any written form, as long as the following required information is provided:

  • Name of person that certifies and when necessary, contact information or any other form of identification;
  • Tariff classification under the harmonized system and description of the merchandise;
  • Upon the request of custom authorities, provide additional information that demonstrates the origin of the product;
  • Date of Certification;
  • Information demonstrating that the good is originating;
  • If the Certification will be use for several shipments, the period covered by the Certification should be detailed (not to exceed 12 months).
While the U.S. has not yet issued a suggested CAFTA-DR certificate of origin form, the Central American countries that are members of CAFTA-DR have preliminary agreed to use the same suggested certificate of origin format. The model CAFTA-DR certificate of origin form in English and Spanish (although the instructions are only in Spanish, but similar to the NAFTA Certificate of Origin) can be found on El Salvador Customs' website at the following link:

That is exactly the reason many countries require the Certificate of Origin to be processed by a respectful body of government that is responsible for import/export. Otherwise, the information will be based solely on the word of the importer thus opening a window of opportunity for falsifications.

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