Guide for European Union Certificates of Origin

NON-PREFERENTIAL CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

The Chambers of Commerce issue enterprises, by request, with non-preferential Certificates of Origin, taking into account the rules of the Kyoto Convention adopted by the World Customs Organization and the guidelines of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Eurochambres to determine the origin of goods.

Certificate of Origin is a document, which is used in trade relations between the European Union and third countries. Non-preferential Certificates of Origin are never subject to reduced tariffs, or so-called preferential tariff treatment. The purpose of the Certificate of Origin is solely to state the origin of the goods, in order to act in accordance with customs and commercial requirements.

The need of a Certificate of Origin in export can be checked from the European Union’s Market Access Database.

The rules of origin applicable in the Union can be divided into two categories, relating to rules of

  • non-preferential tariff treatment and
  • preferential tariff treatment of goods

RULES OF NON-PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT OF GOODS

The rules regarding the non-preferential tariff treatment of goods are used to determine the origin of goods when the origin of goods is not related to the granting of preferential tariff treatment, for example, the application of general customs levels on imports, the management of quantitative restrictions on imports, anti-dumping measures, customs statistics and other commercial reasons. Goods that are imported are required to have a country of origin marking in the import-declarationThe rules for non-preferential tariff treatment are governed by Article 60 Paragraph 2 of the Customs Code of the European Union, which includes a principle for determination of the non-preferential origin of goods in the union in the case where goods are produced in more than one single country.

“Goods, the production of which involves more than one country or territory, shall be deemed to originate in the country or territory where they underwent their last, substantial, economically-justified processing or working, in an undertaking equipped for that purpose, resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture.”

This definition is always applied to the determination of general origin, if annex 22-01 of the Commission’s Delegated Regulation does not have any commodity code specific rule for a product, the production of which involves more than one country. Annex 22-01 can be found on the page 279 (pdf-document).

PROVING THE ORIGIN OF GOODS FROM

The Finnish Chambers of Commerce joined the Certificates of Origins (CO) Accreditation Chain of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on 1st January 2019. The companies should consider the following rules when applying for non-preferential Certificates of Origin:

  1. The exporter’s invoice should be presented with the application. A proforma invoice will be exceptionally accepted, if the exporter’s invoice is not available.
  2. If the goods are not the company’s own production, a supplier’s invoice or a Certificate of Origin issued in the country in which the goods were purchased, is needed.
  3. Instead of a supplier’s invoice, a supply chain declaration can be used to prove the origin of goods, when the company has several items (product names) or suppliers for its goods. The declaration can also be downloaded on the e-vientiasiakirjat website (on the  lower right corner). The company assures, with this declaration, that the given information is correct and commits to provide the Chamber of Commerce with a new declaration, if changes take place in the given information. The company provides information on goods (product name), suppliers and countries of origin in this declaration or attaches an extract including the same information to it. The declaration should be signed (by the administrator) and combined into a single pdf document and sent to the Chamber of Commerce which issues the Certificate of Origin. The Chamber of Commerce will save it in the e-vientiasiakirjat -service.
  4.  If the company cannot prove the origin of goods in the ways mentioned above, the company should provide a reason for this and a written explanation of the origin.  This is used only in exceptional cases.

The Chamber of Commerce has the right not to issue a Certificate of Origin, if the Chamber of Commerce states that the evidence of origin is insufficient. The issuing Chamber of Commerce always holds the right to check and verify the documents and their validity. A member of the Chamber of Commerce may, if necessary, inspect the goods that are on the CO application.

Certificates of Origin with a wet stamp can be still applied through the vientiasiakirjat service. If these kinds of Certificates of Origin are needed, the applicant should mention it in the field where additional information can be given. Certificates of Origin can also be applied for manually, but it is recommended only in exceptional cases. The Rules of the Certificates of Origins (CO) Accreditation Chain of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) applies all applications of Certificates of Origin.

The authenticity of the Certificates of Origin, issued from 1st January 2019 onwards, can be checked through the ICC Verification website.

CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN, APPLYING, ISSUING, VALIDITY AND RETENTION TIME

Certificate of Origin Form

The Certificate of Origin issued by the Chamber of Commerce has a definite form. Forms are to be ordered from the issuing Chamber of Commerce.

The form consists of

  • a tawny original with pattern printing (wavy background pattern)
  • a yellow copy without a pattern with the mark “copy”

Application

Chambers of Commerce in Finland issue non-preferential Certificates of Origin for enterprises. Contact details of the Chambers of Commerce can be found here.

Applying for an electronic Certificate of Origin takes place solely through the vientiasiakirjat service. The manual application form can only be used in exceptional cases. The form can be found on the website of the Finland Chamber of Commerce and by contacting the Chamber of Commerce in the region in which the enterprise is situated.

The applicant registers as a user of the vientiasiakirjat service and receives their personal passwords. The applicant must complete an Authorization Document.

The application for the Certificate of Origin should be sent to a chosen Chamber of Commerce, where it will be issued and electronically stamped. At the Chamber of Commerce, the Certificate of Origin is issued by a person who has the required authorization. The applicant can print the Certificate of Origin on the special form after it has been issued by the Chamber of Commerce.

Certificate of Origin and Additional copies

As a rule, only one Certificate of Origin can be issued by the Chamber of Commerce (original and archive copy). This is good to note, for example, in Letter of Credit terms. The copy provided together with the certificate of origin is only a company’s own archive copy.

If you need copies for export purposes, please order them while applying by choosing the amount of extra copies.

Validity of the Certificate of Origin

The Certificate of Origin is valid from the day it is issued. In principle, its validity is unlimited, assuming that all information given remains unchanged and there is no change in the requirements for the origin and/or in the packing of the goods. In the event  that the time between the date of issuance of the Certificate and the date of departure of the goods is considered to be too long, it might cause problems in the country where the goods are imported and where the Certificate should be presented.

Archiving period for the Certificate of Origin

The exporter shall keep and store the export documents in their archive for six years from the end of the calendar year during which the decision to hand over the goods to the export procedure was taken.

Errors in the Certificate of Origin

The applicant should immediately contact the Chamber of Commerce if he/she notices an error in the Certificate of Origin.

Replacement of an original Certificate of Origin with a new one

The issuing Chamber of Commerce does not have any right to issue an identical Certificate of Origin covering the same shipment. However, should the documents become lost in transit or are stolen or destroyed or there is an error in the certificate, a replacement Certificate may be issued. The applicant understands that the Chamber of Commerce is not responsible for any liability which may arise from the issuance of another Certificate of Origin for the same shipment.

If a Certificate of Origin is lost in transit or stolen or destroyed, the applicant must provide the Chamber of Commerce with the following information/documents:

  • The number of the Certificate of Origin (and date of issuance)
  • A  copy of a signed Bill of Lading or Airway Bill
  • A police report on the loss  (if possible)
  • The applicant must mark, on the application, in the field 5. Remarks “This is a Replacement Certificate of Origin to replace the original Certificate of Origin No…issued on ….”
  • A replacement is issued with a new number and current date of issuance.

If errors are noticed in a Certificate of Origin after the issuance (when a Certificate of Origin is already abroad), a replacement can be issued under the following rules:

  • The original (plus copies) Certificate of Origin must be returned to the issuing Chamber of Commerce.
  • The applicant must mark, on the application, in the field 5. Remarks “This is a Replacement Certificate of Origin to replace the original Certificate of Origin No…issued on ….”
  • Also, in the e-vientiasiakirjat service, the applicant must state why a replacement is needed (error on weight, goods description etc.)
  • A replacement is issued with a new number and current date of issuance.

REMARK: The issuing Chamber of Commerce, however, shall have the right to reject a request for a Replacement Certificate if it is made, for example, 6 months after the date of issue of the original Certificate of Origin.

Issuance of a Certificate of Origin after the delivery/shipment

The Certificate of Origin should be applied in connection with the delivery/shipment, but it can also be issued afterwards:

  • The Chamber of Commerce can issue a Certificate of Origin after three weeks, but not later than three months, from the date of shipment of goods.
  • A Certificate of Origin can also be issued after this period if there is a good reason and the needed documents/evidence can be presented.
  • In addition to the needed documents, a copy of the signed Bill of Lading or Airway Bill is needed to be attached to the application.
  • A Certificate of Origin is issued with the current date of issuance.

DEFINITION OF ORIGIN (NON-PREFERENTIAL ORIGIN) AND SPECIAL CASES

Country’s original products

A country’s original products are those which are wholly produced in that country or products which underwent their last substantial transformation in that country.

1.Wholly obtained

a)     mineral products extracted from its soil, from its territorial waters or from its seabed

b)     vegetable products harvested or gathered in that country

c)     live animals born and raised in that country

d)     products obtained from live animals in that country

e)     products obtained from hunting or fishing conducted in that country

f)       products obtained by maritime fishing and other products taken from the sea by a vessel of that country (The country of the vessel is determined either by the country in which the vessel is registered in, or the country under whose flag the vessel sails)

g)     products obtained aboard a factory ship of that country solely from products of the kind covered by paragraph (f) above

h)     products extracted from marine soil or subsoil outside that country’s territorial waters, provided that the country has sole rights to work that soil or subsoil

i)       scrap and waste from manufacturing and processing operations, and used articles, collected in that country and fit only for the recovery of raw materials

j)       goods produced in that country solely from the products referred to in paragraphs (a) to (i) above

2.Last substantial transformation

 “Goods whose production involved more than one country shall be deemed to originate in the country in which they underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose and resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture.”

3.Minimal operations

Operations which do not contribute, or which contribute to only a small extent to the essential characteristics or properties of the goods, and, in particular, operations confined to one or more of those listed below, should not be regarded as constituting substantial manufacturing or processing:

a.)   operations necessary for the preservation of goods during transportation or storage

b.)   operations to improve the packaging or marketable quality of the goods or to prepare them for shipment, such as breaking bulk, grouping of packages, sorting and grading, repacking

c.)    simple assembly operations

d.)   mixing of goods or different origin, provided that the characteristics of the resulting product are not essentially different from the characteristics of the goods which have been mixed

e.)   putting up goods in sets or ensembles or putting up for sale

f.)     affixing of marks, labels or other similar distinguishing signs on products or their packaging

g.)   disassembly or change of use

h.)   a combination of two or more operation specified in points (a) to (g). (The enumerated minimal operations should be regarded here as a limitative list.)

Special cases of qualification for origin

1.Spare parts, accessories and tools

Accessories, spare parts and tools for use with a machine, appliance, apparatus or vehicle may be deemed to have the same origin as the machine, appliance, apparatus or vehicle, provided that they are exported and normally sold therewith and correspond, in kind and number, to the normal equipment thereof.

2. Disassembled articles covered by different consignments

A disassembled article which is exported in more than one consignment because it is not feasible, for transport or production reasons, to export it in a single consignment should, if the exporter so requests, be treated as one article for the purpose of determining its origin.

3.Packagings

For the purpose of determining origin, packagings should be deemed to have the same origin as the goods they contain unless the national legislation of the country of importation requires them to be declared separately for tariff purposes, in which case their origin should be determined separately from that of the goods.

4.Neutral elements

For the purpose of determining the origin of goods, no account shall be taken of the origin of the energy, plant, machinery and tools used in the manufacturing or processing of the goods.

5.Major portion rule

Where the country of origin cannot be determined by application of the general or special rules of origin, the country of origin of the goods shall be the country in which the major portion (value based on price) of the material originated.

6.Completely knocked down

On the exporter’s demand, an unassembled good which is exported in one or more consignments and will be assembled in the country of import may, for the purpose of determining the origin, be treated as one article assembled in the country of exportation.

 If the applicant requests that the Certificate of Origin should be issued in the union, in accordance with the rules of origin in force in the country or territory of destination, the applicant should supply, at his/ her own expense, both the original and translated text of the rule of origin to the issuing body. If the latter has any doubt of the rule of origin, the issuance of the Certificate of Origin should be refused.