Frequently Asked Questions

Documents: Basics of Documentation

When do I need a NAFTA Certificate of Origin and where do I get one?

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin should only be completed for products exported to Canada or Mexico that meet the NAFTA rules of origin of production in the NAFTA countries. Inclusion of products that do not qualify is illegal and subject to fines and penalties. Elimination of Canadian and Mexican duties assessed on U.S. products is one of the major ways that NAFTA assists U.S. companies. To ensure that the benefits of tariff removal accrue to NAFTA products, and not to non-NAFTA products, NAFTA includes tough rules of origin. Only products that meet the NAFTA rules of origin are eligible for the preferential duty rates.

Under NAFTA, products that qualify under the rules of origin will have zero duties when traded between the U.S. and Canada, and will have low or zero tariffs when traded between the U.S. and Mexico. An importer must submit to customs a NAFTA Certificate of Origin completed by the exporter in order to be eligible for preferential tariff rates. By filling out a NAFTA Certificate of Origin, a shipper is certifying that the covered goods meet the rules of origin, and therefore, qualify for preferential rates. If the product does not qualify for NAFTA tariff preferences, the Certificate must not be completed, as the product is then usually subject to the Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate, rather than the NAFTA rate.

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