Advanced Rulings on USMCA Origin

By Brenda Cordova, Braumiller Law Group Mexico Legal Counsel​​

A good that complies with the USMCA rules of origin may qualify for duty exemption when imported into the United States, Mexico or Canada. The document that certifies such compliance is the certification of origin. This certification includes information about the importer, exporter or producer, certifier, description and harmonized tariff code of the goods, origin criteria, blanket period and authorized signature and date. Completing it seems to be a simple task because such information appears to be relatively basic. Nonetheless, anyone issuing or using this certification should take this as a critical task that can only be done by those who completely understand the rule and criteria of origin applicable to their goods, and are 100% sure that such goods qualify as originating, and moreover, they have the records handy and readily available to prove it. Those whose past experience with NAFTA was not pleasant may attest to it, as sometimes having the records proving the origin may not satisfy the MX customs auditors.

Therefore, companies that have issued or used certifications of origin may remain in a state of uncertainty until the five years statute of limitations expires. In this case, an option that could give some relief and certainty to importers, exporters and producers is if they have a written advance ruling issued by the customs administration of where the importer is located, that sets forth the treatment that customs shall provide to the goods at the time of importation based on the rule of origin of the good, including whether the good qualifies as a USMCA originating good.

According to the USMCA, each member country shall maintain uniform procedures for the issuance of advance rulings, including a detailed description of the information required to process an application for a ruling.