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Your learning module: Certificates of Origin, what are they?

Providing customs with the correct Trade Documentation is essential to the successful clearance of your goods and very often it can also mean allowing the importer access preferential rates of duty, but how do you know what Trade Documentation do you need? The documents you will need are determined by your goods’ Commodity Codes, and very often you will find out that one of said documents is in fact a Certificate of Origin. But what are Certificates of Origin?

In essence, Certificates of Origin are trade documents used by exporters to confirm the origin of the exported goods in accordance with the non-preferential rules of origin; this means that they confirm the origin of the goods for countries where there is no Trade Agreement in place with the UK, or where the goods don’t comply with the preferential rules of origin established in the existing Trade Agreements between the UK and the importing country, in other words, it confirms the origin of goods not manufactured or produced in the UK.

A Certificate of Origin may be required for many different reasons, the main ones being for customs clearance purposes: so that importers can release their goods from customs authorities, or for commercial purposes, such as when a Letter of Credit states that a Certificate of Origin needs to be issued to fulfil the issuing bank’s documentary requirements.

But how will you know when you need to apply for a Certificate of Origin? Simple, when the importer asks you to provide them with one. Certificates of Origin are not mandatory for all shipments, but they become necessary for particular scenarios and the importer of the goods will be in the best position to advise whether a Certificate will be needed to clear the goods in the country of import or not.

In the UK, there are two types of Certificates of Origin – The United Kingdom Certificate of Origin and the Arab-British Certificate of Origin, they serve the same purpose but the countries of destination for which they are used as well as their requirements and their prices are different; for instance, whilst UK Certificates of Origin are certified by the London Chamber, Arab Certificates are verified by the London Chamber and certified by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, and in the case of some specific Arab League countries, they also need to be legalised by their corresponding consulate. In either case, it will be the importer who will inform which Certificate the exporter will need to supply them with.

To apply for a Certificate of Origin with the London Chamber, you will need to register to our free Community Network and complete and email us back a Formal Undertaking, which we will use to set up your account in our online application platform, where you will be able to submit live applications.

What will you need to provide us in your application? Your commercial invoice, a packing list, and the evidence of the origin of the goods if they are not of UK origin; this evidence can be the manufacturer’s commercial invoice, a supplier’s origin declaration (signed, in headed paper and clearly listing the goods and their corresponding origins), and in some cases we might also accept photos of the labelling of the goods. Please bear in mind that each application is checked individually by our trade documents officers, who can reject applications back to the applicants when deemed necessary.

Depending on the country of import, our system allows applications to be issued directly at your office (also known as DIY) or they can also be printed at the Chamber. Please note that for Arab Certificates, the process is different and before you apply through the system, it is always recommended to contact us to find the specific requirements you will need to comply with for the Arab League country you are exporting to.

At the London Chamber of Commerce, we are the largest issuer of Certificates of Origin in the UK and we are very proud of it! Would you like to learn more about our Trade Documentation services or apply for your documents with us? Please reach out or visit our website for more information.