Non-preferential Certificate of Origin (CoO)


A form which certifies expressly that a set of goods originated in a specific country. They are used in trade policy measures which are not related to the granting of tariff preferences. Note, the working group has specifically considered Non-Preferential CoOs, those that relate to rules of origin that are not linked to Free Trade Agreements. Non-Preferential CoOs are also used as part of a Letter of Credit or Call for Tender. Can also be used in the administration of the importer as proof of origin.


Varies between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G), but usually an exporter or authorised representative (e.g. freight forwarder).


Varies between B2B and B2G, but usually an issuing authority (e.g. chamber of commerce or customers).

Legal Framework

The main framework is provided by the WTO Agreement on Rules of Origin, and revised Kyoto Convention on Simplification and Harmonisation of Customs Procedures, but there are many laws that can influence the CoO. Sometimes there is no legislation involved, as when the importer is asking for the document as a part of internal origin procedures of the company.


More than 15 million documents a year, but there are no exact numbers available.

Major differences between Standards

The layout of CoO’s is mostly standardised, and there are no major differences between the definitions of different key data elements.


Electronic CoOs are supported by the development of National Single Window services.

Key Data Elements & Definitions

  • Document: CoO Certificate Number; Additional Numbers (LC Number etc.)
  • Party: Exporter - Consigner (applicant); importer- consignee – to order (facultative); Certifying body (details of the issuing organisation including place and the date of issuance and authorisation)
  • Location: Origin of the Goods (UN/LOCODE)
  • Transport: Particulars of transport details (facultative)
  • Goods: Marks and numbers; Number and Kind of Package; Description of the Goods
  • Measure: Gross weight- quantity
  • Other Information

A CoO is connected to a shipment, therefore information about the exporter and description of the goods has to be the same as that used in other documents. In other words the CoO is following other elements of the shipment, and as such there is no discussion for example about the definition of an exporter or applicant.


Challenges in raising awareness of digitalisation and proportion of digital certificates of origin addressed in challenges and recommendations.

Other Information


Document-Specific Challenges

Framing the problem: DSI's work suggests that most CoOs have the same lay-out, and in those countries where there are some additional boxes on the CoO this is not creating a blocking issue. There is also no blocker when it comes to thinking about key definitions (of exporter or applicant for example), since the CoO follows the other elements of the shipment.

So the question becomes around how to digitise. A challenge is that other parties require the CoO and establish sometimes their own requirements. For example, in the Netherlands, 500,000 CoOs are issued annually and 30,000 of them are going through an extra step with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Lack of digitalisation
  • Raising awareness of digitalisation
  • National governments sometimes establish their own requirements

Document Specific Solutions

  • Continue to encourage the adoption of ICC guidance on digital procedures for issuing and attesting CoOs
  • SDOs should raise awareness through standards guidance and asking chambers of commerce to encourage members to digitise