What is a Certificate of Origin for exports?

What is a Certificate of Origin for exports?

In the realm of international trade, a Certificate of Origin (CO) plays a crucial role in identifying the country of origin of a commodity or goods being exported. Many countries require this essential document, which is often included in trade agreements, to determine eligibility for import and the imposition of applicable duties. This blog will explore the significance, types, processes, and benefits of obtaining a Certificate of Origin for exports.

Certificate of Origin meaning?

A Certificate of Origin is a formal document verifying the country where a specific product was manufactured. It contains vital information about the product, destination, and exporting country. For instance, a Certificate of Origin for perishable goods proves the country where the perishable product was grown or produced. This essential document is crucial for time-sensitive products like fruits, vegetables, and flowers, ensuring smooth customs clearance and compliance with trade regulations during export or import.

Types of Certificate of Origin

There are two main types of Certificates of Origin:

  • Non-Preferential COs

    Also known as "ordinary COs," non-preferential COs indicate that the exported goods do not qualify for reduced tariffs or tariff-free treatment under trade agreements between countries. These are required when no specific trade agreement exists or when certain products are excluded from tariff relief.

  • Preferential COs

    Preferential COs are issued when there is a free trade agreement or reduced tariffs between the exporting and importing countries. Products exported under such agreements are eligible for preferential duty rates. Examples include the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) enacted by the US Congress to promote economic development in specific nations.

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Importance of Certificate of Origin

Customs authorities in importing countries mandate the requirement of a Certificate of Origin for the accurate classification of goods and the proper imposition of import taxes or duties. The CO serves as evidence to substantiate the product's origin and helps ensure compliance with trade agreements and regulations.

Who issues the Certificate of Origin?

The Certificate of Origin is issued by the exporter of the goods. After preparing the necessary information about the product, its origin, and relevant tariff codes, the exporter submits the CO to a chamber of commerce or customs authority for approval.

Documents required to obtain Certificate of Origin

To obtain a Certificate of Origin, the exporter typically needs to provide the following export document:

  • Manufacturer or commercial invoice indicating the country of origin of the goods.
  • A completed certificate of origin document.
  • Notarized affidavit confirming the accuracy of the information provided.
  • Any additional supporting documents as per the Certificate of origin requirements of the importing country's customs authority.

How to Get a Certificate of Origin

The Certificate of Origin (CO) is a vital document for International Trade. Exporters can visit the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) office to obtain a CO in India. You can also use the online services provided by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) website.

In-person procedure

Submit the filled-out CO form, relevant documents, and a cover letter to the ICC office in the name of the exporting company.

Online procedure

  • Register on the DGFT COO portal, log in using the IEC, and apply for the CO. Fill in product details, invoice numbers, and trade agreement information.
  • Upload the necessary documents with digital signatures, confirm the declaration summary, and submit the application.
  • After submission, make the required payment through the online platform.
  • The CO is approved by the customs authority or the Indian Chambers of Commerce.
  • Once approved, the CO is issued either in traditional or digital format.
  • The CO facilitates smoother customs clearance and allows exporters to benefit from preferential trade agreements.
  • It is an essential document for e-commerce exports, enabling exporters to register and proceed with their shipments.

Benefits of Certificate of Origin

The Certificate of Origin offers several advantages:

  • Tariff Preferences

    One of the significant advantages of a Certificate of Origin is its role in obtaining tariff preferences and reducing import duties. Many countries offer preferential tariffs on products from specific countries or under certain trade agreements. With a valid CO, exporters can take advantage of these tariff concessions, making their products more competitive globally.

  • Trade Agreements

    Certificates of Origin are essential for products to qualify for trade agreements and free trade agreements (FTAs) between countries. Under these agreements, products from member countries can enjoy lower or zero tariffs, enhancing the competitiveness of exporters within the agreement.

  • Customs Clearance

    The CO streamlines the customs clearance process by providing clear information about the product's origin. Customs authorities use the CO to assess the eligibility of products for preferential treatment and to ensure compliance with trade regulations.

  • Market Access

    Having a Certificate of Origin can open up new markets for exporters. Some countries may have stringent import regulations or quotas for products from specific origins. A valid CO allows products to gain access to these markets without unnecessary barriers.

  • Credibility and Trust

    The CO adds credibility to the product and the exporting company. Importers often prefer to deal with exporters who provide proper documentation, including the CO, as it instills trust and confidence in the quality and origin of the goods.

  • Export Incentives

    In some cases, governments offer export incentives or financial assistance to exporters. A valid CO may be a prerequisite for such incentives and benefits.

  • Compliance with Regulations

    Exporters need to comply with various international trade regulations. The Certificate of Origin ensures that the exported goods meet the specific requirements of the importing country and relevant trade agreements.


A Certificate of Origin is a vital document in international trade, serving as evidence of a product's country of origin. Its issuance by the exporter and subsequent approval by the local chamber of commerce or customs authority are essential steps to ensuring compliance with trade regulations. The CO facilitates preferential treatment under free trade agreements, simplifies customs procedures, and enhances the efficiency of cross-border trade. Exporters should be mindful of the specific requirements of each importing country and use the CO as a strategic tool to facilitate seamless global trade.

Citrus Freight can assist exporters with obtaining the Certificate of Origin by providing expertise, document preparation, coordination with authorities, and timely submission. Their support ensures smooth customs clearance and compliance with international trade regulations for shipments with a digital platform and online support.