A product’s origin relates to the country where it was produced. In other words, it is a product’s nationality. This concept is essential for customs formalities concerning handling goods imported or manufactured in the European Union, or for goods being exported to third countries. We draw a distinction between non-preferential and preferential origin. In Belgium the Federal Public Service Economy is the competent authority for origin.
Among other things, the non-preferential origin is important for:
The certificate of origin is an official administrative document stating the product’s country of origin. When importing, this document must sometimes be presented to the customs authorities of certain third countries. Within the framework of a letter of credit, it is necessary to be able to receive payment of the consignment.
The certificates of origin are issued in Belgium by bodies authorised by the Minister of Economy, in particular the chambers of commerce and Antwerp World Diamond Centre for diamonds. Determining the country of origin is fairly straightforward if the product was entirely obtained in one country. These, for instance, include agricultural and horticultural produce. If raw materials and/or components for manufacturing products are from two or more countries, this can cause problems for determining the origin. The origin of the goods can be determined in this case, thanks to the origin rules, or the methods as a whole based on the composition of the products and/or production method.
The European Union has concluded trade agreements with various countries, in which favourable import rights are provided. A Belgian importer is thus able to ensure its customers outside the EU are also eligible for a reduction or exemption from import fees. Among other things, the exporter must provide evidence that the exported goods fall under the preferential origin arrangement. This evidence is the EUR.1, EUR-MED, certificate, or a declaration on the invoice send along with the goods exported. The EUR.1 and EUR-MED certificates are issued by the Customs and Excise Administration.
Both the preferential import rights for each country of origin (when importing into the EU) and the import duties in the export countries can be found in the European Commission’s Market Access Database.
If an economic operator imports goods from developing countries, he is also able to enjoy the General Preferential System (GPS). Within the scope of the GPS, the EU assigns unilateral tariff preferences to certain goods of beneficiary countries. The proof of origin is the FORM A certificate.