Embracing Digital Evolution: WCO Unveils a Study on the Digitalization of the Certificate of Origin

13 December 2023

The World Customs Organization (WCO) has published a comprehensive study detailing the digitalization of the Certificate of Origin (CO). This Study focuses on the practices of WCO Members in origin certification, emphasizing the digital transformation of the origin-related process. It aims to highlight both the challenges and success factors encountered by Members in this transition.

During its 139th and 140th Sessions in June 2022, the WCO Council endorsed the Strategy Plan 2022-2025 and the Implementation Plan 2022/2023. A key component of the Implementation Plan 2022/2023 was the work in area of revenue collection, which included a study of the requirements for establishing inter-Customs cooperation in information exchange and digitalizing origin-related procedures.

To achieve these objectives, the WCO Secretariat carried out a survey in Autumn 2022 to assess the state of play in digitalizing the certificates of origin. This survey, which garnered 84 responses from WCO Members, collected information on practices concerning issuance of electronic certificates of origin (e-COs) and systems for exchanging origin data. The findings have been thoroughly analyzed and compiled into the "Study on the Digitalization of the Certificate of Origin."

The survey underscored a rapid evolution toward digitalization, marking significant advancements in this area. It indicated that this digital shift extends beyond the CO, encompassing the declaration of origin process as well. An increasing number of Members are moving towards fully electronic transmission methods for COs, thereby reducing reliance on physical documents.

In the context of COs, digitalization typically involves the treatment of certificates in electronic data interchange formats. This evolution streamlines electronic transmission between exporting and importing parties, serving both preferential and, in some cases, non-preferential purposes.

The study, offering invaluable insights into the evolving landscape of digitalization in Customs practices, is available in both English and French.