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CBP Clarifies Validity Criteria for NAFTA Certificates of Origin

Posted November 19, 2014

As many traders around this season begin working to obtain or provide “blanket” NAFTA Certificates of Origin for the following year, it seems appropriate timing for the Customs Border Protection Agency (CBP) to have issued a notice earlier this week clarifying what it considers to be the difference between a valid, invalid, and defective certificate (applicable, of course, irrespective of whether the form is intended for multiple shipments in the case of “blanket” certificates or related only to a single shipment).
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The criteria outlined in the CBP notice are fairly obvious regarding when a Certificate of Origin is considered “valid”. Specifically, the document must: list the good(s) in question; cover the period in question; include the exporter’s or his agent’s signature in block 11a; and have been in the importer’s possession at the time of the claim, as demonstrated by a block 11e authorized signature date prior to the date of the preference claim and submission upon request of a CBP official. A NAFTA Certificate of Origin not meeting any of these basic requirements is considered “invalid”.

A Certificate of Origin that is “valid” insofar as satisfying all of the above-noted requirements, but which contains any error or omits required information, is considered by CBP as being “defective”.  These errors and omissions include, but are not limited to the following: illegibility, misclassification, incorrect or missing preference criteria, signature by an individual who cannot legally bind the company, typed or stamped signature, 3rd-country goods (in addition to NAFTA goods), Net Cost field error, single-entry certificate without an invoice or other unique reference numbers.

The CBP reminds importers that such “defective” Certificates of Origin may be remedied in accordance with 19 CFR 181.22(c) – i.e., by submitting a corrected certificate to CBP within five working days.