Commerce ministry creates online platform for issuance of ‘certificate of origin’ for exporters

The commerce ministry has designed an online platform for issuance of a key document required for exports to those countries with which India has trade agreements, with a view to facilitate shipments during the COVID-19 crisis. An exporter has to submit a ‘certificate of origin’ at the landing port of the importing country. The document is important to claim duty concessions under free-trade agreements (FTAs). This certificate is essential to prove where their goods come from.

“The platform has been designed as a single-point access for all FTAs/PTAs, for all designated Certificate of Origin (CoO) issuing agencies and for all export products, and is accessible at –,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said on Tuesday in a notice sent to all exporters, members of trade, designated agencies under FTAs/PTAs, and all embassies of FTA/PTAs partner countries.

It said that the certificate for exports from India to Chile under a preferential trade agreement (PTA), exports to Nepal under SAFTA and SAPTA and shipments to Korea under India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement are already being applied and issued through this online platform.

“To further this initiative and facilitation, and in the light of current crisis, the preferential certificate of origin for exports to various other countries under following FTAs/PTAs shall also be applied and issued only from this online platform with effect from April 7, 2020,” it added.

The Directorate has asked all concerned agencies to issue the certificate under the trade agreements through this platform. Under these trade agreement, two or more trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate import duties on maximum number of goods traded between them.

India has implemented such agreements with regions including ASEAN, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Asian Free Trade Area, and Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement. The DGFT said that in view of the movement restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic in India, the designated agencies will issue digitally signed electronic certificates of origin only and no hard copy will be provided.

“The applicant exporter may download the certificate, so issued, from the online platform and share the e-certificate with the authorities in the FTA partner countries. These online certificates will maintain the same layout, appearance and validity as the paper certificates,” it said. Further, it said the electronic copy of the certificate will carry a digital signature of an authorised officer as already agreed to under the FTA/PTA.

“As and when the functioning of the issuing agency offices resumes, the Certificate of Origin, so issued on the electronic platform, will also be made available in hard copy with ink-signature of the issuing officer to the applicant exporter besides the e-certificate. The certificate issuance process will continue to remain online,” it said. It has also enlisted a procedure for exporters to apply for these certificates.

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