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September 21, 2011 

Guest Post on Census Blog Serves as Important Reminder on Certificate of Origin Accuracy

There was an important guest post for exporters published today on Global Reach, the blog of the U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division.

The post by Chris Mead, Senior Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, dealt with the accuracy of certificates of origin provided by U.S. companies to overseas customers.

The post notes that:

Certificates of origin are used to determine where products were made and thus can affect how much duty is levied on imports, whether imports are exceeding quotas or not, and whether the imports comply with local health and product safety regulations. The simple documents, usually just a page in length, can also affect the price of imports: many people overseas will pay more for items they think are made in the United States.

So the stakes are high on these seemingly innocuous documents. Around the world, they are treated with care. In the United States, people frequently handle outgoing certificates of origin with little attention and varying standards, even though U.S. Customs monitors incoming certificates of origin with vigilance.
Customers in foreign countries often request certificates of origin, which are intended to provide the "country of origin" of goods, be completed by local chambers of commerce in the U.S. Like all international trade-related documents, certificates of origin, which are typically based on a rule of origin involving the "substantial transformation" standard and are different than certificates of origin associated with Free Trade Agreements such as NAFTA, must be completed accurately.

As this post points out though, many persons and companies in the U.S. do not take the issuance of such documents seriously which casts doubt on the credibility of the documents and the underlying transaction.

This post serves as a useful reminder that U.S. exporters and their agents should take steps to ensure that all international trade-related documents presented to overseas customers and customs authorities are correct and accurate. This includes Certificates of Origin prepared for "origin's sake"; Certificates of Origin prepared for Free Trade Agreement purposes, such as NAFTA Certificates of Origin; Commercial Invoices (values and descriptions) and other related documents.

As this post correctly states, "the world’s importers should have confidence in the certificates issued in the United States. Let’s not let them down."




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