How to avoid common errors when completing a Certficate of Origin

Export documentation

Completing a Certificate of Origin form can be a real pain, just one small mistake and it’s almost certain to be rejected this leads to frustration and can potentially waste hours of time. So, we’ve asked our Export Documentation team to outline what is really required in each box on the form as well as what to watch out for and which mistakes to avoid.

Take a look at our guidelines and hopefully you’ll never see one of your Certificate of Origin forms rejected again!

BOX 1:

In this box ensure that you include “United Kingdom” following your company address. We often see customers using “UK” but our guidelines state that you need to use the full wording for it to be accepted.

BOX 2:

This needs to show the delivery address or the final destination of the goods, and not the ‘invoice to’ address. We match up the delivery address shown on the commercial invoice to what’s included in this box, and if they don’t match it is rejected. If you do wish to show the invoice address you can but they then both need to be clearly marked as such. This though can be a bit of a squeeze!

BOX 3:

If any of the goods originate from a European Community country, then any country name must be preceded by ‘European Community – ‘. We often just see ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘Italy’, but again this would be rejected if the full wording isn’t included.

BOX 4:

The transport box should only show the method of freight, which gives you four options: ‘Air’, ‘Sea’, ‘Road’ or ‘Mixed’. No additional information needs to be included here. This is just in case vessels/flights are changed at the last-minute causing discrepancies. This is also an optional box, so for ease it can always just be left blank!

BOX 6:

This box is split up into two key parts:

  • Marks and Numbers: This is the part of the form where we generally see the most errors due to confusion of what needs to be included, so it’s important to get it right. Most exporters aren’t sure of the meaning and often ignore it all together or just try to add additional information. This is in fact one of the most important boxes on the certificate, this is because it shows how the packages being shipped are marked. Most of the time this will be with the consignor address, so customers can add ‘as addressed’ to save writing out the whole address again, however it can also be marked with container numbers, hazardous warnings and similar information.
  • Number and kind of packages; description of goods: Often the number and kinds of packages is missed from this part. All we need to see is what the goods are packaged in, e.g. ‘6 boxes containing…’. The description of goods is also an area that often needs some guidance, as it needs to be easy to understand. If only serial numbers are listed, a generic description should be added, and if the exporter isn’t listing all products, they can add a generic description followed by ‘as per invoice {number} dated {date}’ so long as the invoice is itemised. It’s ok not to list every product just if the generic description covers everything being shipped.

BOX 7:

 If this box doesn’t show the correct weight it can cause issues if it differs when customs weigh the shipment during the export process. We would advise customers to show the actual net/gross weight, and if this isn’t possible then can show the quantity of the goods shipping – this must be the exact number of pieces shipping however, rather than number of packages.

BOX 9:

This only requires completion if the person applying for the certificate isn’t the shipper e.g. a freight forwarder. Often exporters fill this box in without the need to, or the freight companies forget.

Reverse of the application: The applicant is given 3 choices for where the goods are made with guidance on each. Almost all first-time exporters whose products are of UK origin incorrectly tick box 1 when they should be ticking box 2. Box 1 is for raw materials only, such as milk, meat, fish and clay. Almost everything else will apply to box 2, where the goods are still classed as UK origin but some components may have originally been shipped from overseas. Underneath the tick boxes, it should be the manufacturers addresses that are listed and not that of the supplier. Often customers think that because they have purchased goods from a certain country, this must also be the originating country, but in fact their supplier could have shipped these in from anywhere in the world. If the customer doesn’t know the manufacturers address, they should seek advice from their supplier, or ask their supplier to contact us so we can add this information confidentially.

If you need any further information or help relating to Certificate of Origins or anything else around export documentation, get in touch with our specialist team today via or call 0330 124 0727.