Certificates of origin issued retroactively or retrospectively

Certificate of origin is a generic name, which describes various types of documents used in international trade to verify the origins of the goods.

It is expected that a certificate of origin should be issued prior to the transport document date.

If a certificate of origin issued after the transport document date, such as after bill of lading date, it must be marked with "issued retrospectively" or "issued retroactively" statement.

On one of my previous articles, I have explained the meaning of issued retrospectively on a GSP Form A certificate of origin.

Today I would like to point out the meaning of issued retroactively and issued retrospectively on ordinary certificates of origin.


As certificate of origin may refer to a wide range of document types, we need to know exactly what types of certificates of origin could be issued retroactively or retrospectively.

What types of certificates of origin could be issued retroactively or retrospectively?

The answer of this question is very simple. All types of certificates of origin could be issued retroactively or retrospectively such as;
  • Ordinary Certificate of Origin (CO) 
  • Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Form A, 
  • EUR1 
  • Commonwealth Preference Certificate (CPC) 
  • NAFTA Certificate of Origin 
  • Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Form D, 
  • Certificate of Processing (CP) 
  • ATR Movement Certificate

Under which circumstances an issued retroactively or issued retrospectively statement should be attached on to a certificate of origin?


Certificate of origin should be marked with issued retroactively or issued retrospectively statement on the following conditions:
  • Certificate of origin is issued after shipment of goods: Exporters may have to issue another certificate of origin under certain conditions, especially when exporter sends a wrong type of certificate of origin to the importer. Let us assume that the importer requires a preferential certificate of origin, but exporter sends him an ordinary certificate of origin. (You can understand the differences between a preferential certificate of origin and an ordinary certificate of origin by reading my following article: What are the differences between certificate of origin and GSP Certificate of Origin Form A?) Because importer could not be benefited from the special tariff rates with the ordinary certificates of origin, exporter should be sending him the correct type even quite long period after the shipment.
  • Certificate of origin should be modified after shipment of goods: In rare situations content of the certificate of origin should be modified after shipment. Let us assume that importer may not be paying for the goods under cash against documents payment. In such circumstances exporter has two options: either he brings back the goods or else he finds another buyer at the destination country. If exporter manages to find another buyer, then he has to modify shipping documents accordingly. Consignee field of the certificate of origin should be corrected just like other documents.
Are there any differences between issued retroactively or issued retrospectively statements?
  • Definition of retroactive: Extending in scope or effect to a prior time or to conditions that existed or originated in the past; especially : made effective as of a date prior to enactment, promulgation, or imposition. 
  • Definition of retrospective: Effective from a particular date in the past. 
As can be seen on the above explanations both terms have very similar meanings and they can be used interchangeably.

Case Scenario:
Letter of credit is issued with the following wording. "Certificate of origin must be mark issued retrospectively if issued after bill of lading date."

Although issued retroactively and issued retrospectively have similar meanings, exporters should be inserting exact phares stated in the letter of credit, as some banks may raise discrepancies because of change in wording.
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