Certificate of origin (CO) – Where the goods come from

Certificate of origin

What is a certificate of origin needed for?

A certificate of origin is a document accompanying goods and clearly proves the commercial origin of certain goods. It is considered a public document. Depending on the import regulations of the receiving country, a certificate of origin (CO) may or may not be issued. Accordingly, it can be issued in any official language of the EU.

How is a certificate of origin issued?

In Germany, a certificate of origin is issued by an independent body, such as the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK). Each applicant must have his company or residence in the locally responsible IHK district. There are three types of certificates of origin: the original, the application for issuance and the copy. There is only one original for each consignment of goods. A certificate of origin is issued only if the certificate of origin form has been filled in correctly. The IHK may also refuse to issue a certificate if the information has been checked and is found to be incomplete or incorrect. A subsequent change or addition to the certificate of origin without the consent of the IHK will be considered a forgery of documents.

How is a certificate of origin structured?

All three variants of a certificate of origin consist of eight main fields, with a ninth field added in the application. In the upper right-hand corner of each variant, the corresponding designation (original, copy, application for issue) and the serial number are indicated. Below this are the indications “European Community” and “Certificate of origin”. For copy and original, this is translated into English, French and Spanish. The following is the required data per field.

Field 1:

  • Complete company name as entered in the commercial register
  • Small traders and civil law companies: full first name and surname
  • Fancy names are permitted only after correct company name has been entered
  • a foreign principal can be named here, with indication of the contractual relationship (e.g.: “on behalf of …/as agent for …”)

Field 2:

  • complete address of the recipient
  • unknown recipient or recipient does not wish to be named: “to Order” and country of destination
  • Minimum information: destination country

Field 3:

  • Indication of the official designation of the country of origin
  • List of official country designations at IHK downloads

Field 4:

  • voluntary information about the mode of transport (e.g.: air freight, truck etc.)

Field 5:

  • voluntary remarks (e.g.: invoice number, L/C number, order number etc.)
  • further details should be discussed with the IHK beforehand

Field 6:

  • Goods designation/description, must be understandable and allow identification of the goods
  • other information: Item number, type or serial number, number and type of packages, as well as their marking.

Field 7:

  • Information on the goods (e.g.: gross and net weight, number of pieces, liters, meters, etc.).
  • Quantity information can be given in suitable units of measurement

Field 8 (fill in the form only):

  • Declaration as to whether goods were manufactured in the company’s own plant in Germany or in another plant
  • in the case of several goods: Assignment must be unambiguous
  • Company stamp and legally binding signature of the applicant

Field 9 (only present in the form):

  • Must only be completed if applicant and sender are not identical
  • Applicant must be domiciled in the competent district of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and requires a power of attorney from the sender
  • Sender must be domiciled in the EU


  • special declarations required by receiving country or customer (must be indicated on all three copies)
  • Signature of the applicant

Example Template of Certificate of Origin with Field Note

Ausfüllhilfe Ursprungszeugnisantrag    


Sebastian Baumgarten

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