Marking and Labelling Requirements
Exports to the United States are required to meet strictly enforced marketing and labeling requirements to ensure the end user is aware of the origin of the good. Any item that enters the United States in a retail condition or substantially the same condition in which it will be sold or distributed must be conspicuously, permanently and legibly marked in English with the name of the country in which it is produced.
Certificate of Origin
Determining the eligibility of goods for NAFTA treatment and providing the importer with the Certificate of Origin is the exporter's responsibility. To claim NAFTA treatment, the importer must be in possession of a valid Exporter's Certificate of Origin from the Canadian exporter that certifies that the goods in question meet the NAFTA Rules of Origin.
The Certificate of Origin should be sent directly to the importer and not accompany the shipment. Exporters may obtain a Blanket Certificate of Origin covering more than one shipment for a specified period of validity. Copies can be obtained at Canada Revenue Agency offices in Hamilton, London, Ottawa, at major border-crossing points and from the Canada Revenue Agency website.
Country of Origin Marking Rules
The NAFTA marking rules are distinct from the NAFTA content rules. The NAFTA marking rules serve the domestic purpose of informing the ultimate consumer of a good where that good was made. In contrast to the NAFTA content rules, which are common to all three parties, each NAFTA member is required to establish its own set of marking rules.
The marking rules of each NAFTA country apply only to imports from its NAFTA partners. Accordingly, the U.S. marking rules will pertain only to imports from Canada and Mexico. Similarly, Canada's marking rules apply only to imports from Mexico and the United States. The NAFTA marking rules do not apply to exports or to goods that are produced and sold domestically.
Marking must be sufficiently permanent to remain in place unless deliberately removed. Acceptable marking methods include stampings, moldings, stickers, labels, tags and paint.
Imports do not have to be marked with their country of origin when:
- the cost of marking would discourage importation
- marking would materially impair the function of the good
- marking would substantially detract from its appearance
- the good is a crude substance
- the importer will substantively transform the good
The tariff classification and origin status of your merchandise should be determined before you start exporting.
Advisory classifications and origin determinations may be obtained from your customs broker or from one of the member government customs agencies.
Written, binding, rulings on classification, origin status and marking requirements may now be obtained in advance from Canadian, United States and Mexican customs headquarters.
Rulings must be obtained in the country into which you are shipping your goods. For information on NAFTA-related customs matters, advanced rulings on classifications, and tariff rates visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada webpage on Canada and the North American Free Trade Agreement.