Frequently Asked Questions

Certificates of Origin : Certificates of Origin by Free Trade Agreements


Documenting Origin

It is the responsibility of the importer to claim preferential treatment for a given shipment at the time that the good is cleared through the customs authority. (Under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (U.S.-Chile FTA), the ultimate responsibility for the validity of the claim lies with the importer, not the exporter as under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For more specific information on this, see Article 4.14 of the U.S.-Chile FTA.) In order to claim eligibility for a preferential duty rate, the importer must provide to National Customs Service of Chile (Chilean Customs) a written declaration in the importation document that the good is originating. The importer must also be prepared to provide Chilean Customs, upon request, with a certificate of origin (or other information demonstrating that the good qualifies as originating).

Certificate of Origin

In general, a certification of origin can take many forms, for instance: a statement on company letterhead, a statement on a commercial invoice, or a formal certificate of origin. While no official form is required in order to demonstrate origin under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Chilean Customs issued a list of required data elements. Shipments under $2,500 in value do not require a certificate of origin or other supporting information of a preferential claim unless the customs authority suspects a claim is fraudulent (see Article 4.13 of the Agreement).

Supporting Documentation

Despite the fact that the ultimate responsibility for making the declaration lies with the importer, more often than not the information needed to support the declaration will have to be provided by the producer/exporter. The supporting information (e.g., certificate of origin) behind a claim of preferential treatment may be produced by the exporter, importer, or producer of the good. If this supporting information is not generated by the producer (i.e., the importer or exporter), it must be based upon either 1) a certificate of origin issued by the producer or 2) the exporter's or importer's knowledge that the good qualifies as originating. In other words, the importer is heavily dependent upon the assistance and cooperation of U.S. suppliers in producing accurate and well-documented declarations of origin.

An importer claiming preferential treatment for a good is required to have the certificate of origin and/or other supporting documentation used in demonstrating that the good qualifies as originating under the U.S.-Chile FTA rules of origin for a period of five years from the date of importation of the good.

Exporter's Obligations

A producer or exporter that generates a certificate of origin should maintain for a period of at least five years after the date the certificate was issued a copy of the certificate along with all records and supporting documents related to the origin of the good, including:

• purchase, cost, value of, and payment for, the good;
• where appropriate, the purchase, cost, value of, and payment for, all materials, including recovered goods, used in the production of the good; and
• where appropriate, the production of the good in the form in which it was exported.

Filing A Correction (Exporter's Obligations)

After an exporter/producer issues a certificate of origin (whether to the importer or Chilean Customs), it may come to the attention of one of the parties to a transaction that the basis of the claim was made on incorrect information or that the certificate of origin contains some type of error. In the case where the certificate was issued by an exporter or producer, it is the responsibility of the exporter or producer of the certificate of origin to immediately notify, in writing, every person to whom it was originally issued of any change that would affect the accuracy or validity of the certificate. While unpaid duties will have to be paid to the customs authority if a good no longer qualifies as originating, penalties may not be imposed by the customs authority on the issuer of the certificate of origin if such action is taken.

Special Cases

In some cases, a considerable amount of research into the inputs in the production of the goods is required in order to determine origin. Many exporters and importers believe that the only time that the declaration of origin can be provided is at the time the shipment clears customs, creating a sense of urgency in determining the origin of the goods. To obtain the reduced duty rate immediately, this is true. The importer, however, has another option. The importer may pay the non-preferential duties at the time the goods clear customs and then has up to one year from the date on which the goods were imported to apply for a refund of excess duties paid as a result of the good not being accorded preferential tariff treatment. This may happen in cases where the information required to determine that the good is originating is not available at the time of shipment. At the time of the application for refund, the importer is required to supply a written declaration of the goods' originating status, and, if requested by the customs authority, a certificate of origin or other information demonstrating that the good qualifies as originating; and other documentation relating to the importation of the good that the customs authority may require.

In some situations, an exporter may find that multiple shipments of identical goods are being sent to the same Chilean importer. In these cases, it is not necessary to generate new supporting documentation (e.g., certificate of origin) for each individual shipment. The importer may maintain one such "blanket" certificate of origin (or other information demonstrating that a good originates) to be presented to the customs authority at the acceptance of each shipment. It is recommended to identify the "blanket period" on the certificate of origin. Chilean Customs suggests that the "blanket period" not exceed a period of one year.

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