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Trade and Industry Department The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Brand Hong Kong - Asia world city

Certificate of Origin Circulars

24-hour hotline : 23 922 922

e-mail address : enquiry@tid.gov.hk

Ref. : FRCP 1327/1/4

14 December 2018

Dear Sirs,

Certificate of Origin Circular No. 5/2018

Commercial Information Circular No. 1116/2018

Certificate of Preference Circular No. 3/2018

Notice to Exporters :

Series 1 (USA) No. 3/2018

Series 2 (EU) No. 3/2018

Series 3 (Countries other than USA & EU) No. 3/2018

Textiles Trader Registration Circular No. 3/2018

The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA)
Agreement on Trade in Goods (The Agreement)
Certificate of Hong Kong Origin - CEPA ("CO(CEPA)")

Introduction

As stipulated in Certificate of Origin Circular No. 4/2018 issued on 14 December 2018, the Agreement on Trade in Goods (the Agreement) under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) shall be implemented on 1 January 2019.  This circular sets out the application procedures and conditions for issuing Certificate of Hong Kong Origin - CEPA ("CO(CEPA") covering goods of Hong Kong origin for exportation to the Mainland that are eligible for zero tariff treatment under CEPA.  Traders are advised to read the relevant provisions of CEPA, the Agreement and its Annex, as well as other relevant Certificate of Origin Circulars issued by the Trade and Industry Department ("TID") from time to time.  The full text and other details of the CEPA and Agreement are available from the webpage of the TID at: https://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/index.html.  

Details

Product Coverage

2.The Agreement affirms that all goods of Hong Kong origin can enjoy zero tariff preference upon importation into the Mainland1 . The Agreement enhances the arrangements for CEPA Rules of Origin (ROOs), with a view to fully implement zero tariff on all imported goods of Hong Kong origin instantly.

Document Requirements for Exporting Hong Kong Goods to Mainland

3.According to the Agreement, if a good can be considered as originating, traders can apply a certificate of Hong Kong origin - CEPA ("CO(CEPA)") before shipment, in order to enjoy zero tariff treatment under CEPA upon importation into the Mainland. Consignments claiming CEPA zero tariff preference must be supported by CO(CEPA)s issued by the TID or Government Approved Certification Organizations ("GACOs")2 , and the Mainland Customs may request the originating goods claimed to have fulfilled the requirements of the Agreement from Hong Kong to declare origin information upon importation. Importers shall take the initiative to declare that the goods are eligible for zero tariff and to declare relevant origin information in accordance with requirements of the importing customs; and to submit supporting documents relating to importation of the goods. In the event that the origin information cannot be verified through interconnection network when an import declaration is made, the importing customs may, on the request of the importer, release the goods upon payment of a deposit.

4.If the importer fails to inform the Mainland Customs at the port of clearance upon importation that the imported goods are eligible for CEPA zero tariff, the paid tariff or deposit will not be refunded even if the importer applies to the customs for zero tariff and declare origin information afterwards. Please refer to the announcement of the Mainland General Administration of Customs for the latest arrangements of customs clearance of goods in Mainland.

Requirements to Maintain Records and Verification of Origin

5.Traders should note that under the Agreement, manufacturers, exporters and importers are required to retain in print or electronically the documents that prove the originating status of the goods for at least three years or any period of time according to the respective laws and regulations.

6.For the purposes of determining the authenticity of the CO(CEPA)s, or the originating status of the goods, or whether the goods have fulfilled other requirements specified in Chapter 4 of the Agreement, the Mainland Customs may verify the qualifications of the CEPA zero tariff preference of goods by means provided in the Agreement. This includes requesting additional information from the importer, requesting additional information from Hong Kong exporter or Hong Kong manufacturer via Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department ("C&ED"), requesting C&ED to conduct verification of origin of goods, conducting verification visits in Hong Kong with C&ED in a manner agreed by the customs of the two sides, etc.

7.Hence, if traders receive requests for additional information from customs, they should respond to the requests promptly and reply within 90 days from the date of receipt. If no reply is received within the deadline, or if the reply does not contain the information necessary to determine the authenticity of the relevant documents or the originating status of the goods in question, the Mainland Customs may deny zero tariff treatment to the goods in question.

Electronic Service for CO(CEPA)

8.All CO(CEPA) applications (including fresh submissions, re-submissions and amendment requests) have to be lodged through electronic trade document submission services. Traders may register with the relevant Government appointed Certificate of Origin ("CO") Service Providers3 to use the electronic services. Traders who have not registered with the Service Providers can also make use of the designated Service Centres arranged by the Service Providers for submitting CO(CEPA) applications.

Conditions for Issuing of CO(CEPA)

(i) ROOs

9.Traders should note that with the implementation of the Agreement on 1 January 2019, existing CEPA ROOs will be replaced by the ROOs in the Agreement.  The ROOs for the purpose of zero tariff treatment under the Agreement are set out in Chapter 4 (Rules of Origin and Implementation Procedures) and its Annex.  The Chapter stipulates that a good will qualify as an originating good if it meets other applicable provisions, as well as: 

  1. the good is wholly obtained or produced in one side, in accordance with Article 8 of the Agreement; 
  2. the good is produced in one side exclusively from originating materials; 
  3. the good is produced using non-originating materials in one side, and
    1. the good falls within the scope of the Annex ("Product Specific Rules of Origin", where details can be found in TID's webpage at:  https://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/tradegoods/rules_origin.html), and complies with the corresponding change in tariff classification, regional value content (RVC), manufacturing or processing operations or other requirements;
    2. the good does not fall within the scope of the Annex (Product Specific Rules of Origin), but complies with the requirement that the RVC is greater than or equal to 30% when calculated by the build-up method, or the RVC is greater than or equal to 40% when calculated by the build-down method ("General Rule").
For details of the ROOs requirements of the Agreement, please refer to Chapter 4 of the Agreement and its Annex, and the Certificate of Origin Circular No. 4/2018 issued on 14 December 2018.  In addition, to claim CEPA zero tariff preference under the Agreement, goods must be transported directly to the Mainland from Hong Kong.

(ii) Factory Registration and Manufacturer's Authorized Signatory 

10.Manufacturers must be registered with TID for Factory Registration ("FR") before they are eligible to apply for CO(CEPA)s.  Operators in the fisheries sector who would like to apply for CO(CEPA)s in the capacity of "manufacturer" to cover fish or aquaculture products should likewise be registered for FR.  FR application form specifically applicable to these operators can be downloaded from TID's webpage <http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/aboutus/form/publicform/others/allforms.html#Factory> or obtained from the Factory Registration and Origin Certification Branch ("FR&OC Branch") of TID.
 
11.FR registrants are legally bound to observe all conditions of registration and they have to ensure all registration particulars (e.g. address, ownership, products, line of production, machinery, etc) are accurate and up-to-date.  FR registrants are also required to register with TID the up-to-date Hong Kong HS codes for the goods they produce.  If FR registrants fail to update their registration particulars or their CO(CEPA) applications cover goods of Hong Kong HS codes that are not registered with TID, their CO(CEPA) applications will be deferred or rejected.  It is therefore in the interest of manufacturers/subcontractors to provide TID with up-to-date information by returning completed form "Application for Amendment of Registration Particulars under Factory Registration (FR)" as and when necessary.  The form can be downloaded from TID's webpage <http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/aboutus/form/publicform/others/allforms.html#Factory> or obtained from the FR&OC Branch of TID.
 
12.In respect of certain improvement measures under the Agreement regarding CEPA ROOs, manufacturers are reminded to check if there is any update to the ROO(s) applicable to their product(s) registered for CO(CEPA) under their FR record.  If any updating to the registered ROOs is required, manufacturers must update relevant information during/before annual renewal of FR to ensure that the FR records are up-to-date and to avoid any rejection or deferment in the processing of their CO(CEPA) applications.
 
13.Traders were informed via the Certificate of Origin Circular No. 9/2004 issued on 28 July 2004 of the requirements regarding authorized signatories of manufacturer on applications for, inter alia, CO <http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/aboutus/tradecircular/coc/2004/coc092004.html>. Manufacturers, who make use of the electronic trade document submission services should ensure that the persons registered with the Service Providers for signing electronic applications should be identical to the authorized signatories registered with TID.

14To protect the interest of the trade and as a measure to uphold the integrity of Hong Kong's origin certification system, any CO(CEPA) application which is not signed by the authorized signatory of the FR registrant will be deferred or rejected. Traders should therefore make sure that their CO(CEPA) applications are lodged by their authorized signatories.

(iii) Labelling Requirements 

15.Origin marking or labelling is not mandatory for goods exported to the Mainland for CEPA zero tariff preference.  However, if a trader would like to apply origin markings on goods for export under CEPA, they should mark their goods as "Made in Hong Kong" provided that the CEPA ROO is met.  

(iv) Additional Requirements for Traders Who Wish to Include Product Development Cost in the CO(CEPA) Applications 

16.Traders who wish to include product development cost in their CO(CEPA) applications for products with Regional Value Content ("RVC") as ROOs must fulfill additional conditions.  Further details will be announced in a separate circular to be issued by TID at a later stage.

(v) If the Value of Goods and Materials of Mainland Origin is Included in Calculating the RVC

17.Traders who wish to include the value of goods and materials originating from the Mainland when calculating the RVC, in addition to complying with the original FR requirements under CEPA, they have to submit to TID the additional Declaration and Undertaking Form (Form FRVAC 1).  Manufacturers should return the abovementioned Declaration and Undertaking Form to TID's FR&OC Branch at least 7 working days before lodging CO(CEPA) applications. Upon acceptance of the relevant additional Declaration and Undertaking Form, TID will issue a "reference number" to the manufacturer.  Further details will be announced in a separate circular to be issued by TID at a later stage.

Applications for CO(CEPA)

18.Under the Agreement, the application procedures for CO(CEPA) will remain unchanged.  In lodging a CO(CEPA) application, traders should provide all required information accurately.  Applicants have to comply with the following requirements -

  1. The exporter, manufacturer, and subcontractor (if applicable) have to make the following declaration in the CO(CEPA) application:

    CEP - I declare that the goods described in this application comply with the origin requirements specified for those goods in the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) and the Agreement on Trade in Goods.
  2. Each CO(CEPA) can only be used to cover one batch of goods entering into the Mainland at the same time.
  3. Traders are required to provide the Mainland 8-digit tariff codes corresponding to the goods concerned according to the applicable "Customs Import and Export Tariff of the People's Republic of China".
  4. Each CO(CEPA) can cover a maximum of 20 product items with their Mainland 8-digit tariff codes, and all of them must be goods eligible for zero tariff preference under CEPA.
  5. For each product item that corresponds to a Mainland 8-digit tariff code, a separate entry has to be provided for each of the following:
    • number and type of packages;
    • quantity and quantity unit; and
    • FOB value in Hong Kong dollars. 
  6. ROOs: Manufacturers should clearly state the principal manufacturing processes performed in the field "Principal Process(es) Done by Manufacturer and Outworker in HK".  Manufactures should also state in this field the product's ROO that has been fulfilled, e.g. wholly obtained, General Rule, change in tariff classification and/or RVC, etc.  For those products that require to fulfill RVC, manufacturers should also state "RVC-BU" (for Build-up Method) or "RVC-BD" (for Build-down Method) in the field "Rules of Origin Criterion". 
  7. Some fields will require the input of data codes, which represent the corresponding Chinese description of the information: The above input codes may be subject to change.  Traders should check from the webpages of TID or the Mainland Customs from time to time for the latest set of input codes.
  8. The port of discharge declared on the CO(CEPA) applications should be the customs port to which the importer will submit the claim for zero tariff preference.
  9. The consignee's information will appear on the CO(CEPA).  Exporters cannot choose to hide such information on the CO(CEPA).
  10. Under normal circumstances, the departure date should be at least 2 clear working days after the date of submission of the application. 
  11. Materials imported into the Mainland for processing trade are not covered by the zero tariff preference under CEPA and hence should not be included in CO(CEPA) application.

19.Traders are advised to read the "Note for Traders Lodging CO(CEPA) Applications" carefully before applying for CO(CEPA).  The Note can be downloaded from TID's webpage
<http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/aboutus/publications/registcert/cocepa_note.html> or obtained from the FR&OC Branch of TID.

Supporting Documents for CO(CPEA) Applications

20.If required by the issuing organization and/or C&ED, the manufacturer, subcontractor (if any) and the exporter of the goods applying for a CO(CEPA) should provide appropriate supporting documents and other relevant information proving that the goods covered in the application qualify as originating goods in accordance with Chapter 4 of the Agreement. This will include relevant information concerning any manufacturing processes completed in Hong Kong and the Parties, such as the names and addresses of the parties (including subcontractors) involved.

Processing and Approval of CO(CEPA) Applications

21.Target turnaround time for processing CO(CEPA) application is 1.5 clear working days (excluding day of receipt)4.  Traders are reminded that TID no longer counts Saturday as a working day since the implementation of "5-Day Week" from 1 July 2006.  Notwithstanding this, GACOs will continue to maintain services on Saturday mornings and they will count Saturdays as working days.
 
22.In addition, since 1 May 2016, TID and GACOs have been issuing electronic CO(CEPA)s.  Upon approval of the CO(CEPA) application, trader will receive an electronic approval message as well as a print-out of the electronic CO(CEPA) (specimen is at  Appendix I).  Traders may save and/or print the print-out according to their needs, and they are no longer required to collect the CO(CEPA)s from TID or GACOs. 
 
23.After the issuing organizations approve the CO(CEPA)s, relevant information of the approved CO(CEPA)s will be transmitted to the Mainland General Administration of Customs electronically to facilitate customs clearance and tariff processing of the consignments in the Mainland.

24.Mainland importers holding valid CO(CEPA)s issued on or before 31 December 2018 can claim CEPA zero tariff preference for the goods covered after the implementation of the Agreement on 1 January 2019. In the event that a CO(CEPA)s is issued in 2018 and there is a change in ROO of the product concerned under the Agreement, it is not necessary for the applicant to amend the ROO, even if the CO(CEPA) is used to claim zero tariff preference in 2019.

Validity Period of CO(CEPA)

25.Under the Agreement, the validity period of CO(CEPA) will be extended from 120 days from the date of issue to one year from the date of issue.  An expired CO(CEPA) cannot be accepted for claiming zero tariff preference.  Traders should note that after implementation of the Agreement on 1 January 2019, amendment request of a valid CO(CEPA) issued on or before 31 December 2018, if approved, will not change the validity period of the CO(CEPA).  In other words, the validity period of the CO(CEPA) will remain unchanged (i.e. 120 days). 

Request for Amendment

26.If amendment is required for an approved CO(CEPA), traders should lodge an amendment request within 30 days from the date of issue.  Issuing organizations will only consider the request for amendment provided that the CO(CEPA) has not yet been used for claiming zero tariff preference and has not yet expired.  Issuing organizations will also consider each amendment request on its own merits.  If the amendment request is approved, traders will receive an electronic approval message and a print-out of the amended CO(CEPA).  Traders should note that the issue date of the amended CO(CEPA) will remain the same as the original issue date.

Request for Cancellation

27.If a CO(CEPA) is subsequently not used for claiming CEPA zero tariff preference, the trader concerned should lodge a request for cancellation.  Traders should note that a CO(CEPA) will expire by one year after the date of issue, irrespective of whether the CO(CEPA) is cancelled or not.

Application for Certified True Copy

28.Should there be reasonable needs, traders may apply to the issuing organization of CO(CEPA) for a certified true copy (TID's application form is at Appendix II, or obtainable from the FR&OC Branch of TID).  Application for a certified true copy of CO(CEPA) must be fully substantiated by documentary evidence.  The issuing organization will consider each case on its own merits and reserve the full right to approve or reject the application.  The certified copy shall bear the words "CERTIFIED TRUE COPY of the original Certificate of Origin number ___ dated ___".  The certified copy will have the same term of validity as the original Certificate of Origin.

Customs Clearance

29.In the event that traders encounter problems in customs clearance of goods covered by a CO(CEPA), they may seek assistance from the FR&OC Branch of TID (tel. no.: 3403 6432 or email address: cepaco@tid.gov.hk). However, TID will not accept any liability in cases where the Mainland authorities do not accept the claim for CEPA zero tariff preference.

Handling of Information

30.CO(CEPA) issuing organizations will keep the data provided by traders in strict confidence.  However, TID may under certain circumstances disclose such data to C&ED or other government departments, or to third parties within or outside Hong Kong. These circumstances include the following: the disclosure is necessary to facilitate the consideration or verification of the CO(CEPA) in question; the disclosure is authorized or required by the laws; or an explicit consent to the disclosure is given by the traders concerned.

Important Note

31.It is the responsibility of traders to complete the application for CO(CEPA) fully and truthfully, and provide the supporting documents as required under the issuing conditions for CO(CEPA).  Failure to provide accurate and complete information may affect the consideration and processing of the application, and may result in the application being deferred or rejected.

Warning

32.TID and GACOs work closely with C&ED, through checks and inspections, to ensure compliance with the provisions of Import and Export Ordinance, Cap. 60 and its subsidiary legislations as well as the Protection of Non-Government Certificates of Origin Ordinance, Cap. 324.  Companies/registered businesses/individuals may be liable to criminal prosecution for circumventing the conditions of CO(CEPA). A company/registered business/individual which commits an offence under the above Ordinances is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of HK$500,000 and 2 years' imprisonment.  Moreover, TID and GACOs may take administrative actions against the traders concerned irrespective of whether they have been prosecuted.  Such administrative actions may involve, but shall not necessarily be confined to, any or all of the following: refusal to issue a CO including CO(CEPA); suspension of all kinds of certification facilities; suspension/cancellation of FR of the company/registered business/individual concerned.

Enquiries

33.For enquires, please contact us through the following channels -

Trade and Industry Department
(FR&OC Branch)
Tel: 3403 6432
Fax: 2787 6048
E-mail: cepaco@tid.gov.hk
GACOs
- The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong
- The Federation of Hong Kong Industries
- The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
- The Indian Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong
- The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce

Tel: 2542 8613
Tel: 2396 3318
Tel: 2395 5515
Tel: 2525 0138
Tel: 2526 0623
Electronic Service Providers
- Brio Electronic Commerce Limited 
- Tradelink Electronic Commerce Limited

Tel: 2111 1288
Tel: 2599 1700

Yours faithfully,



(Ms. Esther CHEUNG)
for Director-General of Trade and Industry
 
1  Not including those prohibited by the Mainland's rules and regulations and those prohibited as a result of the implementation of international treaties by the Mainland, as well as products that the Mainland has made special commitments in relevant international agreements.
2  The GACOs are the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce; the Federation of Hong Kong Industries; the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong; the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong.
3  The Government appointed CO Service Providers are Tradelink Electronic Commerce Limited ("Tradelink") and Brio Electronic Commerce Limited ("Brio").
4  If the CO(CEPA) application is selected for pre-issue inspection, the processing time would be longer.