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What is a Certificate of Origin?

A Certificate of Origin (CO) is an important international trade document attesting that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country.

COs also constitue a declaration by the exporter. Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining what duty will be assessed on the goods or, in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all.

Two major types of COs The main type issued by chambers are “Non-Preferential COs”, i.e. “ordinary COs” which certify that the country of origin of a particular product does not qualify for any preferential treatment. “Preferential COs” refer to COs which enable products to enjoy tariff reduction or exemption when they are exported to countries extending these privileges: e.g COMESA Preference Certificate. Certificates of Origin may be needed to comply with Letters of Credit, foreign Customs requirements or a buyer’s request.

In most countries, chambers of commerce are the key agent in the delivery of certificates of origin. However, in some countries, this privilege may also be extended to other bodies such as ministries or customs authorities

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