Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NAFTA CO Clarification

I often run into questions about whether a NAFTA CO is acceptable backup for a NAFTA claim or to support another NAFTA CO. Here is what Customs and Border Protection has to say on the issue:

CSMS #14-000598

This posting seeks to clarify the meaning of the terms “valid NAFTA Certificate of Origin,”  “invalid NAFTA Certificate of Origin” and “defective NAFTA Certificate of Origin”.  Additionally, CBP reminds importers that preference will be denied when possession of a valid NAFTA Certificate of Origin at the time of the claim cannot be substantiated.

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is valid if it:

1. Lists the good in question
2. Covers the period in question
3. Includes the exporter’s or his agent’s signature in block 11a “Authorized Signature”
4. Was in the importer’s possession at the time of the claim, as demonstrated by 1) a block 11e “Authorized Signature” date prior to the date of the preference claim, and 2) submission upon request of a CBP official

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is invalid if it does not meet the aforementioned requirements.

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is defective—and thus may be remedied in accordance with 19 CFR 181.22(c)—if, while meeting the conditions of a “Valid NAFTA Certificate of Origin,” above, contains other errors or omissions. These 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, or other similar errors or omissions.

In addition to defining the aforementioned terms, this CSMS posting serves as a reminder that NAFTA preference will be denied if the importer does not possess a valid NAFTA Certificate of Origin at the time of the preference claim.


JLO said...

Larry - many of our customers, when they are in an audit situation, are requesting certs from past years. In an audit situation, would CBP need to see the Cert even if the customer did not possess it at time of entry?

Larry said...

JLo, That is a common request and goes into the category of things that might not hurt and could possibly help. Suppliers who can provide a truthful CO in that circumstance, covering the period in question, and signed on the current signature date should do so. An auditor might view it as confirmation that the goods were originating and not press the issue. What you should not do is provide a CO today showing a back-dated signature date.