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When Should A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Certificate Of Origin Be Completed?

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin should only be completed for products exported to Canada or Mexico that meet the NAFTA rules of origin of production in the NAFTA countries. Include only goods that are made in the U.S., Canada or Mexico and are eligible for NAFTA benefits.

Elimination of Canadian and Mexican duties assessed on U.S. products is one of the major ways that NAFTA assists U.S. companies. To ensure that the benefits of tariff removal accrue to NAFTA products, and not to Non-NAFTA products, NAFTA includes tough rules of origin. Only products that meet the NAFTA rules of origin are eligible for the preferential duty rates.

Under NAFTA, products that qualify under the rules of origin will have zero duties when traded between the U.S. and Canada, and will have low or zero tariffs when traded between the U.S. and Mexico. An importer must submit to customs a NAFTA Certificate of Origin completed by the exporter in order to be eligible for preferential tariff rates.

By filling out a NAFTA Certificate of Origin, a shipper is certifying that the covered goods meet the rules of origin, and therefore, qualify for preferential rates

If the product does not qualify for NAFTA tariff preferences, the Certificate must not be completed, as the product is then usually subject to the Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate, rather than the NAFTA rate.

Is a NAFTA Certificate Of Origin required for shipments to Canada And Mexico?

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is not required for shipments to Mexico or Canada. The exporter should only prepare a NAFTA Certificate if the product qualifies for preferential tariff treatment under the NAFTA rules of origin.

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is not required for the commercial importation of a good valued at less than US$1,000. However, for goods to qualify for NAFTA preferential duties, the invoice accompanying the commercial importation must include a statement certifying that they qualify as originating goods under the NAFTA rules of origin. The statement should be handwritten, stamped, typed on or attached to the commercial invoice.

When and how do I submit a NAFTA Certificate of Origin?

Once an exporter determines that the exported good will meet the NAFTA rules of origin, a NAFTA Certificate of Origin must be completed accurately and legibly. The exporter must then send the Certificate to the importer. While the Certificate does not have to accompany the shipment, the importer must have a copy of the Certificate in hand before claiming the NAFTA tariff preference at customs. Certificates of Origin may, at the discretion of the exporter, cover a single importation of goods or multiple importations of identical goods.

In some cases, an exporter may not have the NAFTA Certificate of Origin ready at the time of export; however, the importer still has up to one year after the goods go through customs to make a claim for the NAFTA tariff preference and to apply for a refund of duties paid at the time of entry.

Who is responsible for determining if the product qualifies under NAFTA and for completing the certificate?

The Certificate of Origin must be completed and signed by the exporter of the goods. Where the exporter is not the producer, the exporter may complete the Certificate on the basis of: knowledge that the good originates; reasonable reliance on the producer