The electronic certificate of origin

Stempel auf Papier

The 5 most important questions about the electronic certificate of origin


Was ist ein Ursprungszeugnis?

A certificate of origin (CO) is a goods accompanying document that certifies the non-preferential origin of your goods/parts. It is attached to your goods along with other documents containing information about your goods, such as the EUR.1, A.TR, etc. attached to your goods at the time of shipment.
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.

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 is filled in correctly. The CCI may also refuse to issue it 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 CCI will be considered a forgery of documents.

How do I apply for a certificate of origin?

The application for a certificate of origin is made in Germany at the responsible IHK of the respective company. Each applicant must have his company or residence in the locally responsible IHK district. The IHK checks the data provided in the application form and, if correct, provides the verified and stamped certificate of origin.

An application for a certificate of origin can be made in two ways, both of which are recognized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI):

  • Paper: You can submit a paper application to the CCI. For this you need the application form (consists of original, application for issuance and if necessary carbon copy).In this form you enter all relevant data and then submit it by mail or in person to the IHK.
  • Electronic: Since 2002, it has also been possible to submit your application directly to the CCI electronically; since October 2019, this electronic application has been even easier to implement via a web application.

There are two ways to enter your data into the electronic form.

  • Manual: Here you enter all the necessary data directly into the online form and then transmit your data directly electronically to customs.
  • XML Import: Here you import your data from a previously generated XML document directly into the online form and only adjust any errors or add missing information.
Graphic Article Certificate of Origin

What requirements must I meet to apply for an electronic certificate of origin?

In order for you to be able to apply for your certificate of origin electronically, it is essential for the IHK to ensure correct verification of you/your company. For this reason, you must inform the CCI of your interest in applying electronically and have your company checked with regard to the existing documentation of origin. If the IHK does not see any problems in this regard, appoint a contact person to represent your company vis-à-vis the IHK and register this person. A form is available on the IHK website for this purpose.

As soon as the contact person has been approved, he or she will receive a code for registration in the electronic registration portal. Within this portal, verification for the application is done in two ways:

  • Signature card + reader: You have the option of purchasing a signature card and an associated card reader from the IHK, which you can use to verify yourself in the IHK application. This type of verification is advertised by the CCI as the more secure option.
  • Email + user ID: The contact data you provide is used together with your user ID to verify you. This is only possible since the update in October 2019 and leads to the elimination of the additional costs due to the purchase of a signature card with card reader.

What data do I need to include in a certificate of origin?

In order to successfully apply for a certificate of origin, it is important to provide the required information without errors. The corresponding information is entered in the 9 predefined form fields and can be supplemented by additional information on the back of the document or additional documents.

Which data you have to enter in the corresponding fields is shown in the following graphic.

Completion help certificate of origin application

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 application 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 application):

  • 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

Back cover:

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

What are the advantages of the electronic certificate of origin?

As described, the IHK recognizes two types of application. The following advantages of the electronic application make it clear why it was not left with the paper application: 

  • Independent of opening hours: The application for the certificate of origin can be made regardless of the opening hours of the IHK or the post office.
  • Time saving: The electronic certificate of origin can be printed directly by you from the application.
  • Flexible changes: The electronic portal makes communication with the IHK faster and easier, so changes can be discussed directly on the screen and carried out in cooperation with the IHK. 

We at BEX have also recognized the advantages of the electronic certificate of origin and therefore offer a connection in our own applications from September 2020. The applications we are optimizing for you are AES FOR YOU! and FORMULAR ONE.

How can the electronic certificate of origin be transmitted to the CCI?

You can also easily export the electronic certificate of origin from AES FOR YOU! and import it on the IHK website.

In the following video you can see how easy the data exchange is handled.




Glossary ATLAS Export Declaration – FAQ

What is a customs office of export?

The customs office of export is the competent customs office of the place where your goods are dispatched.

What is a customs office of exit?

The customs office of exit is the customs office where your goods cross the EU border. It is often difficult to know exactly where your goods will leave the EU. Therefore, in some cases, it is sufficient to indicate the designated customs office of exit.

What does MRN mean?

The Movement Reference Number (MRN) is a unique registration number assigned by customs. It is the most important reference for the customs declaration and is used by customs to allocate and process your transaction and to identify the associated consignments.

Export Accompanying Document (ABD)

The Export Accompanying Document (ABD) is a proof document about the admissibility of your export. It must always accompany the associated consignment of goods, as it contains the MRN and a barcode and thus replaces the export declaration in paper form for the inspecting customs office.

Export verification document (AND)

You will receive the export document after your shipment has passed the customs office of exit. It is the confirmation from customs that the goods have been checked and have left the border legally. If your goods have left the border and have not been registered by customs, you must prove that the goods have crossed the border by resubmission (tracking) to customs with your own documents.

What is the difference between main pack and side pack?

A by-pack is a good that is included in the packaging of another item of goods. Both items must be declared in the same export declaration. Here you can find a more detailed description of this topic.

What do the abbreviations CO, EFTA & EX mean?

CO goods are common goods which

  • have been manufactured within the EU and have not been supplemented with parts from third countries
  • or supplemented or built with parts from a third country, but which is allowed to trade duty-free with the EU.

EFTA goods are goods traded within the countries belonging to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EX goods are goods that are sent to a third country without a free trade agreement. Here, customs fees are incurred for the transfer.

What are Incoterms?

Incoterms are guidelines that are adjusted annually. These voluntary rules relate to your contract and your delivery and can be included in the commercial contract with the agreement of your trading partner. You can see which Incoterms exist and which will apply from 2020 here.

The exporting country or the country of destination

The country of export of your shipment is the country where your goods originate and from where they are shipped. The destination country is the country where you want to send your goods. Importantly, the country of destination is the last country your goods will arrive in, any countries passed in between are only relevant to your transport route.

Means of transport

The means of transport at the border indicates the transport vehicle with which your goods cross the EU border. This could be, for example, by air freight or sea freight.

What is the difference between the gross mass, net mass and total mass?

In order to correctly declare your shipment of goods, you must submit all relevant dimensions of your shipment to customs. These are:

  • the gross mass of your individual goods items, i.e. the weight of your goods plus their packaging weight
  • the net mass of your goods, i.e. the actual weight of your respective goods items without their packaging
  • the total mass, this indicates the total weight of all the items of your goods with their packaging in total
Accompanying documents and movement certificate

Accompanying documents are documents that accompany your goods on their way to the end customer. The most important ones are :

    • Bill of lading
    • Delivery bill
    • Bill of lading

Movement certificates are certificates that certify your goods, depending on their origin, as duty-free or subject to lower duty. The most commonly used are:

    • EUR1: This certificate is considered as a preferential proof, it is attached to goods traded within bilateral and multilateral agreement countries of the EU. It is recognized as a certificate of origin in the foreign trade sense.
    • ATR: You enclose this certificate with goods that you trade directly between an EU member state and Turkey in the free movement of goods.
    • IP: The abbreviation IP stands for certificate of origin, so the IP is a document that certifies the actual origin of your goods.

Sebastian Baumgarten

Seit Juli 2019 bin ich bei der der BEX im Produktmanagement tätig. Dort bin ich verantwortlich für die Produkte rund um die Ausfuhranmeldung und die Sanktionslistenprüfung. Dabei stellen wir den Anwender in den Mittelpunkt und verbessern so kontinuierlich die User Experience. Bei Feedback, Anregungen oder Ideen können Sie sich gerne an mich wenden.