CUSMA: Rules Of Origin & Certifying Origin |'s Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates

CUSMA: Rules Of Origin & Certifying Origin

As an importer, it is your responsibility to make yourself aware of the details surrounding CUSMA. This agreement, between Canada, the US, and Mexico, will replace NAFTA as of July 1st, 2020. 

Last week, we published a quick introduction to the agreement, where we identify some of the criteria and the main differences between this and NAFTA. You can read it here: CUSMA/USMCA: Meet The New NAFTA

It is recommended that readers also consult the official Customs Notice by CBSA here: Implementation of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

Keeping compliant and ensuring that things are done correctly will protect importers from significant liabilities. As with any other regulatory precautions stipulated by CBSA, if things are done incorrectly, you run the risk of facing serious fines (even retroactive taxes!), delays, and seizures.

All things considered, it must be a priority for the supply chain industry to educate themselves on the requirements and specifications as well as contract clauses that allocate liability.

The Rules of Origin

These rules are the key determinant as to which products will qualify for the agreement and how importers can work with other professionals throughout the supply chain (manufacturers, exporters) to certify the products. As mentioned in the prior write-up, if your goods qualify under NAFTA, they may not automatically benefit from CUSMA.

While an official Certificate of Origin was required under NAFTA (to be completed by manufacturer or exporter), CUSMA actually allows for a broader range of options for certification — as long as the minimum set of documentation/data elements is provided. In addition to this, importers are also able to certify the origin of goods.

Rules of origin cusma

Here are the data elements required for the certifying party to complete:

  • State if the certifier is the exporter, manufacturer, or importer
  • Certifier’s contact information, including name, phone number, and email
  • The exporter’s contact information 
  • The manufacturer/producers contact information
  • The importers contact information (must be in Canada’s territory)
  • Product description and HS tariff classification
  • Invoice number for the exportation
  • The origin criteria & the blanket period that the certification covers — if there are multiple shipments
  • The certifiers authorized signature and date.

In theory, no longer needing a formal certificate should help customs authorities, but might create an opportunity for disputes down the line with improper certification.

These minimum data elements can be included on the invoice or any other submitted document. This may put additional pressure on importers to make sure that the required information is complete and accurate. It is recommended that importers protect themselves by asking for the exporter to provide the certification of origin (along with a contract that puts onus on the manufacturer or exporter to certify the accuracy of the information). 

Is it ideal for importers to certify their goods under CUSMA? 

Realistically, importers may not be able to provide proof of all of the data elements without information from the manufacturer and the exporters. In the event of an audit situation, it may be difficult to get all the documents and proof in order. 



Before all else, reach out to your manufacturers and your exporters to ensure that they are aware of the overhaul coming to NAFTA. In these discussions, lay out a clear plan for them to certify the origin of the goods or to provide you with complete and curate documentation proving the origin.

If you have any other questions on how CUSMA may change your day-to-day, get into contact with a customs broker. A broker will be fully up-to-date on all the requirements and be able to guide you through the process of ensuring compliance and clearing customs with ease.