Maximizing Import Savings: CUSMA Agreement and Reduced Rates

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA in Canada, USMCA in the US, and T-MEC in Mexico) is a trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on July 1, 2020.

Under this agreement, most goods can enjoy either no or reduced import duty rates when traded among the member countries. Some notable examples of the goods that may not be eligible for duty-free treatment are agriculture and food products, textile and apparel, automobiles and auto parts, steel and aluminum.

To benefit from the advantages offered by the CUSMA agreement and qualify for preferential tariff treatment, importers must possess a Certificate of Origin at the time of goods release or when making a declaration. While it is not compulsory to include the certification with the release or accounting documentation, it must be readily available for presentation to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) upon their request. If the shipment value for duty is under CAD 3,300, a certification of origin is not required.

Any of the following members involved in the shipment can complete the CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC certification of origin: the importer, the producer, or the exporter of the goods. It is generally preferred for the Certificate of Origin to be completed by the producer rather than the exporter or importer. The reason for this is that the producer is typically the party with the most accurate and detailed information about the origin of the goods. They have direct knowledge of the manufacturing process, materials used, and any applicable rules of origin criteria. By having the producer complete the Certificate of Origin, it helps ensure that the information provided is accurate and aligns with the requirements specified in the trade agreement. This helps prevent any potential misrepresentation or errors in claiming preferential tariff treatment based on incorrect origin information.

The purpose of the CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC form is to certify that the goods originated from one of the countries within the agreement. The minimum information required for certification includes:

  • Indication if importer, exporter, or producer certifies the origin.
  • Certifier’s name, title, address (including country), telephone number, and email address.
  • Exporter’s name, address (including country), email address, and telephone number of the exporter if different from the certifier. This information is not required if the producer is completing the certification of origin and is unaware of the exporter’s identity. This address must be in the territory of a CUSMA Party (Canada, US or Mexico).
  • Producer’s name, address (including country), email address, and telephone number if different from the certifier or exporter. If there are multiple producers, either state “Various” or provide a list of producers. If someone wishes to keep this information confidential, they can state “Available upon request by the importing authorities.” This address must be in the territory of a CUSMA Party (Canada, US or Mexico).
  • Importer’s name, address, email address, and telephone number if known. This address must be in the territory of a CUSMA Party (Canada, US or Mexico).
  • Description, sufficient to relate it to the goods covered by the certification, HS Tariff classification of the goods to the 6-digit level, and the invoice number if certification of origin covers a single shipment of the goods.
  • Origin criteria
  • Blanket period of up to 12 months.
  • Certifier’s authorized signature and date
  • Certification statement:

“I certify that the goods described in this document qualify as originating and the information contained in this document is true and accurate. I assume responsibility for proving such representations and agree to maintain and present upon request or to make available during a verification visit, documentation necessary to support this certification.”

While there is no specific format required for the certification of origin, it must contain the above-mentioned essential data elements, and the addresses of the importer, exporter, or producer of the goods should be in one of the countries within the agreement. For the convenience of importers, we have prepared a certificate of origin form that they may utilize.

To conclude, it is highly advantageous for importers to obtain the CUSMA certification of origin for two main reasons:

  1. By obtaining the CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC certification of origin, customers can enjoy the benefits of reduced import duty rates when importing goods among the member countries. This means lower costs for customers and increased competitiveness in the market. It enables customers to take advantage of the trade agreement’s provisions, saving them money and allowing them to pass on those savings to their own customers, resulting in better pricing and increased profitability.
  2. By possessing the CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC certification of origin, importers ensure compliance with proof of origin and record-keeping requirements, thus enabling them to pass customs audits and avoid potential customs administrative monetary penalties.

To obtain more detailed instructions on completing the CUSMA certificate of origin, kindly refer to the 3rd page of our form. Should you have any additional inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.