NAFTA Certificate of Origin Instructions

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin allows a company to import goods under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which reduces or eliminates tariffs and import taxes among the United States, Canada and Mexico. The certificate provides information about the goods being imported and where they're coming from. Certificates are prepared by exporters and provided to importers.

Filling Out The NAFTA Form

Filling out the NAFTA form is actually quite easy. Online forms are available that allow you to enter the information and save it to your computer. The form asks for basic information such as the names, addresses and tax identification numbers of the exporter, producer (or manufacturer) and importer. Oftentimes the exporter and producer are the same. In such a case, you would simply enter "SAME" in the Producer field.

Form Specifics

There are specific items that need to be entered on the certificate for validation. These include:

The "Blanket Period." This refers to the period of time during which products will be exported under the certificate. The blanket period cannot be longer than one year.

The "Description of Goods." These are the items being moved.

The "HS Tariff Classification Number." This can be a little tricky. HS stands for harmonization system, so the classification number is a code that has been assigned to your type of product. This number is also known as the "Schedule B code." Any business selling merchandise internationally has to assign a code number on the certificate to the shipped products. You can look up codes for your particular product on a current database of codes online at the government Trade Information Center.

The "Preference Criterion" is a code that is determined by a schedule on the back of the NAFTA form. The product must meet at least one of the criterion listed in order to be entitled to NAFTA benefits.

The "Producer" section is straightforward. The exporter is either the producer or not. If you are the producer, you would enter YES; if not, enter NO.

The "Net Cost" field is a YES or NO answer. There is an explanation of the Net Cost field on the back of the NAFTA form.

The "Country of Origin" field is self-explanatory. Depending upon the country of origin of the product, you would enter CA, US or MEX.

Lastly, Section 11 of the form is a legal declaration that must be completed and signed by the exporter or the producer for use by the exporter.


NAFTA fields should be entered in all caps. Be sure to have the correct HS Tariff Classification Number for your product entered on your NAFTA form. This can avoid a multitude of import and export problems with your product in customs.