Proofs of origin

Proofs of origin are used to confirm the preferential origin of products within the meaning of free trade agreementsAgreements are becoming increasingly important within the context of international commerce. Given the different written laws and forms of legal practice that exist across the world and the different interpretations of the law that are culturally conditioned, it is impossible to devote too much attention to devising “good” agreements. Model agreements have proven to be useful, particularly for companies with little experience in this area.. Such proofs can consist of movement certificates or declarations of origin on invoices. 
 
The provisions differ in this respect depending on the free trade agreement and the value of the products.
 
For products with a value of up to CHF 10,300 (or EUR 6,000), in generally suffices if there is a declaration of originIn cases where one or more packages are being sent, the declaration of origin can be made on the invoice itself, instead of using a EUR 1 movement certificate. In such cases, however, the total value of the originating products must not exceed CHF 10,300 (or CHF 8800 under the Switzerland/Faroe Islands Agreement).

The declaration of origin is to be submitted in the form and language stipulated in the respective agreement. It must be printed, stamped or typed by typewriter and signed personally. The exporter must keep a copy of the invoice with the declaration of origin for at least three years.
The wording of the declaration of origin in English must be as follows: "The exporter of the products covered by this document declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of (country/zone) preferential origin."
on the invoice or other commercial document bearing a handwritten signature. There are, however, several exceptions:
  • In the bilateral agreements with Japan and China, only Approved Exporters (for details, see below) may issue declarations of origin on their invoices.
  • In the agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), there are for the time being no provisions whatsoever for declarations of origin on invoices.
  • In the agreements with Hong Kong, Canada, South Korea, and Singapore, there are no value limits for declarations of origin on invoices.
A declaration of origin applies only to a specific shipment and may be issued only by the exporter itself (not by customsCustoms duties are a form of tax payable to the State mainly when importing goods into a customs territory. From a protectionist perspective, protective duties play an important role as they are designed to afford domestic producers some protection against foreign competition. In most countries, customs duties are levied as an ad valorem duty, which means the level of duty payable is calculated as a percentage of the value of a given product. By contrast, Switzerland applies the “specific tariff” system for most goods. The specific tariff here is payable per 100 kg net weight. Given the numerous customs duty reductions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT; now the World Trade Organization), customs are now much less important in terms of international trade. In Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA) is responsible for levying customs duties. Internationally, customs administration authorities are members of the broader World Customs Organization (WCOOMD). agents or freight forwarders). Non-preferential products from other countries that are listed on the same document must be identified as such.
 
The standard sentence reads as follows, but it may vary slightly depending on the agreement:
 
German:
 “Der Ausführer der Waren, auf die sich dieses Handelspapier bezieht, erklärt, dass diese Waren, soweit nicht anders angegeben, präferenzbegünstigte ……………………. Ursprungswaren sind.” (Place and date) ……………… (Signature) ………………….
(Name of the signatory in block letters)
 
English:
“The exporter of the products covered by this document declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of ……………………. preferential origin.”
 
French:
“L'exportateur des produits couverts par le présent document déclare que, sauf indication claire du contraire, ces produits ont l'origine préférentielle ……………………. .”
 
Italian:
“L’esportatore delle merci contemplate nel presente documento dichiara che, salvo indicazione contraria, le merci sono di origine preferenziale ……………………. . ”
 
You can find information about the language versions and the various wordings in the General Provisions Concerning Proofs of Origin (not available in English)
 
Approved Exporters 
Approved Exporters are permitted to issue declarations of origin on their invoices (or other commercial documents) for all product values. Thus, they are not required to complete a movement certificate (for details, see below). In addition, they are exempt from having to sign such documents, although the Approved Exporter registration number must be indicated. In general, any company can apply for registration as an Approved Exporter.
 
Special case of China:
In the agreement with China, more information is required from Approved Exporters, and invoices must in addition be uploaded to a platform for electronic data exchange with China (EACN). For details, see Swiss Customs Administration – Approved Exporter
 
Special case of GCC:
For the time being, declarations cannot be made on invoices by Approved Exporters.
 
You can find questions and answers about the agreements with China and the GCC here.
 
Movement certificate
For exports by companies that are not Approved Exporters and whose value exceeds CHF 10,300 (or one of the above-mentioned exceptions applies), a movement certificate must be requested for each individual shipment in order to be able to benefit from preferential customs treatment.
Specifically, these are the forms EUR.1, EUR.MED, and EUR.1 CN (only for China). They can be obtained from the Customs Administration or the cantonal chambers of commerce and industry.
 
Movement certificates must be drafted in the governing language of the relevant agreement. Under most of the agreements, they are valid for four months from the date of issuance. Under the more recent agreements, the certificates are valid for 10-12 months. The form has to be stamped by the export customs office.
 
Input proofs or origin from suppliers (foreign and Switzerland)
For input materials and commercial goods, input proofs of origin from suppliers have to be in place in order to have all required proofs on hand in the event of a customs inspection.
 
Proofs of origin or (long-term) supplier declarations are also needed for goods procured from within Switzerland. The exact requirements can be found in the fact sheet “Declarations by Domestic Suppliers” (not available in English) of the Swiss Customs Administration. 
 
Retention period
All documents proving a product’s origin status must be retained for at least three years. However, depending on the free trade agreement, the period may also be longer.
 
Other sources of information
Facts sheets and publications concerning the precise handling of proofs of origin can be found on the website of the Swiss Customs Administration.

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