Determining Origin Certification Documentation Special Rules

On July 1, 2020, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that had been in place since 1994.  The Agreement is known as CUSMA in Canada.

The transition from NAFTA to the USMCA was largely a non-event for the the many goods where the Rules of Origin changed little, or not at all.  However, these Rules did change significantly for certain industries, including automobiles, textiles, steel, and chemicals.  The Rules of Origin are used to determine whether goods produced collectively in the three countries qualify for duty free treatment when traded between them.

A detailed discussion of how the Rules of Origin work is available here. Once you have determined that your goods originate, you will need to maintain documentation that supports your conclusion. This documentation must be provided to a customs authority on request.

The transition to the USMCA involved two significant changes to the procedures for certifying origin.  First, the USMCA certification may be prepared and signed by the importer, producer or exporter.  Under NAFTA, only the producer or exporter were able to certify. Second, there is no prescribed certification form with the UCMCA, as there had been with NAFTA.  Rather, a set of specified data elements may be set out on any document. 


The USMCA is the third in a series of free trade agreements that began in 1989 with the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. The early success of that agreement prompted Mexico to ask to join, which led to the implementation of NAFTA in 1994.

The scheduled reductions in tariffs that were in place at the outset of both former agreements have long since expired. The only remaining duties under the USMCA are on certain agricultural goods.