Country of Origin Certification Requirements
for Imported Wines and Distilled Spirits
To: Proprietors of Distilled Spirits Plants, Bonded Wineries, Importers,
and Other Concerned Parties
What is the purpose of this circular?
This industry circular provides United States importers with an updated listing of country of origin certification requirements for wines and spirits.
This Industry Circular supersedes ATF Industry Circular 94–2.
What is the background relating to this Industry Circular?
United States regulations provide that, in general, imported wines (in bottles or in bulk) and spirits (in bottles) shall not be released from customs custody for consumption unless the invoice is accompanied by a certificate of origin issued by a duly authorized official of the appropriate foreign government, if the issuance of such certificates has been authorized by the foreign government concerned, certifying the identity of the wines and spirits and that the wines and spirits have been produced in compliance with the laws of the respective foreign government regulating the production of such wines and spirits for home consumption. In the case of bulk spirits imported for bottling in the United States, the regulations require that the bottler of the spirits possess a similar certificate.
On August 19, 1994, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the predecessor agency of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), issued ATF Industry Circular 94–2 to advise U.S. importers of ATF's updated country of origin certification requirements for imported wines and distilled spirits. Since the issuance of that circular, the government of France has changed its requirements, the governments of the Russian Federation and other former republics of the Soviet Union have cancelled requirements for certificates of origin for wines and spirits, and, in conjunction with the enactment of Free Trade Agreements with the United States, the governments of Australia and Chile have adopted new requirements. The attached revised listing incorporates these amendments.
Please note that the certificates addressed in this industry circular are different from the certification requirement for imported wine, enacted in Section 2002 of the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004, relating to the proper cellar treatment of wine. For information on that requirement, as implemented in 27 CFR § 27.140, please see the TTB Web site at http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-certs.shtml.
Are facsimiles and photocopies of certificates of origin permissible?
TTB has received several inquiries from importers regarding the use of facsimile or photocopied certificates. It has been TTB's long-standing policy to accept only original certificates for wines and distilled spirits bottled in the country of manufacture and exported to the United States. ATF, for a brief period of time, accepted photocopies for wines and spirits imported from a country other than the country of origin (See ATF Industry Circular 87–5). However, ATF rescinded this policy and advised that it would only accept the original certificates issued by the country of origin (See ATF Industry Circular 89–1).
TTB reminds importers that if a certificate of origin is required, a facsimile or photocopy is not acceptable. However, TTB is working with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to facilitate the electronic submission of this information.
How do these requirements relate to the importation of bulk wines and spirits?
Wines or spirits imported in bulk for bottling in the United States cannot be removed from the plant where bottled unless the bottler possesses certificates of origin which are similar to the certificates required for wines and spirits imported in bottles. While the wine labeling regulations in 27 CFR part 4 only require that the certificate of origin accompany the invoice at the time of release from customs custody, the wine regulations in 27 CFR parts 24 and 27 require that the proprietor of the wine premises maintain this certificate in order to verify the label claim. Section 27.134 of the TTB regulations requires the proprietor of the wine premises who conducts importing operations to maintain the records required under part 24. In turn, § 24.314 requires the proprietor to maintain records, such as the certificate of origin, to verify the label claim. The distilled spirits regulations, as noted below, require the bottler of the imported bulk distilled spirits to maintain the certificate of origin in order to remove the bottled spirits from the plant.
Where can I find the U.S. regulations on certificates of origin for wines and spirits?
Certificate of origin requirements for imported wines and distilled spirits appear in 27 CFR §§ 4.45, 5.52, and 5.56.
Please note that the final decision, whether or not to permit entry of imported alcoholic beverages which require certification by the country of manufacture, rests with the CBP official at the port of entry. TTB requires that the certificate be tied to a specific lot(s) of a product. In accordance with CBP requirements, U.S. importers should make every effort to obtain an English language version of the certificate(s).
What actions has TTB taken with the United States Customs and Border Protection?
TTB has officially notified the CBP of the change in certification requirements from the Governments of Australia, Chile, France, the Russian Federation, and the former republics of the Soviet Union. TTB has also informed CBP that all imported wines and distilled spirits covered by a compulsory certificate of origin are not to be released from CBP custody unless the original and appropriate certificate accompanies the shipment.
Where can I get more information?
You may address inquiries concerning this circular to the Director, International Trade Division, Suite 400W, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street, NW., Washington, DC 20220.
You may also contact the division by telephone at 202–927–8110 or by e-mail at ITD@ttb.gov
John J. Manfreda
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR IMPORTED WINES AND DISTILLED SPIRITS
Under the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement (U.S.-Australia FTA), which entered into force on January 1, 2005, the importer, not the exporter, is required to make a claim of preferential tariff treatment on the basis that the good is Australian originating. It is the importer’s responsibility to declare in writing in the importation document that a good qualifies as Australian originating.
The U.S. importer should work with the Australian exporter to ensure that an Australian good meets the relevant rule of origin under the U.S.-Australia FTA prior to making a claim. TTB recommends that importers maintain documents relating to the importation of the good and all supporting documentation for up to five years after importation should TTB seek to verify a claim.
Bulgaria authorizes the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to issue country of origin certificates for all Bulgarian wines and/or distilled spirits exported to the United States. This document is entitled "Certificate of Origin" and is stamped with the official seal of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.
Canadian distillers are authorized to issue age and origin certificates for Canadian Whiskey, Canadian Rye Whiskey, rum, brandy, and Highland Whiskey exports to the United States. Canadian Excise Officers, who are in charge of the various licensed distilleries, sign these certificates. This document is entitled "Certificate of Age and Origin."
As a result of the U.S./Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which entered into force on January 1, 2004, shipments under $2,500 in value do not require a written declaration of U.S. or Chilean origin. Otherwise, a written declaration of origin can take many forms such as a statement on company letterhead, a statement on a commercial invoice, or a formal certificate of origin. The U.S./Chile FTA prescribes no specific format for this declaration.
The importer of record of a written declaration of origin is required to maintain and have it available, in addition to other supporting documentation used in demonstrating that the good qualifies as originating under the U.S.-Chile FTA rules of origin, for a period of five years from the date of importation of the good.
TTB understands that the government of France no longer authorizes or issues certificates of origin for standard French wines. As such, certificates of origin for French wines are no longer required.
However, it is TTB’s current understanding that the government of France does issue certificates of origin for French Cognac and French Champagne. Therefore, French Cognac and Champagne, imported in bottles, shall not be released from customs custody unless the invoice is accompanied by either of these forms: (1) Documents d'Accompagnement Commercial (DAC); and/or (2) Document of Accompaniment (DCA 1 & DCA 2) stamped by French Customs.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY*
The Federal Republic of Germany has authorized its Chambers of Industry and Commerce to issue country of origin certificates for all German wines and distilled spirits.¹ The only exceptions are "May" wines and "Sekt" (Sparkling) wines which are not considered wines under German law and therefore not covered under a compulsory certification procedure. The certificate of origin for German wines is entitled "Certificate of Origin for German Wine to the USA."
¹ For distilled spirits a form entitled "Certificate of Origin and Age" is required.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND*
The Republic of Ireland issues a certificate of age and origin for all Irish Whiskey exports to the United States. This certificate is entitled "Certificate of Origin, Age and Conformity with the Immature Spirits Acts for Spirits Exported To," (Form C and E 96 (a)) and is prepared by a Customs and Excise Officer.
Jamaica issues an "Excise Certificate" for exports of Jamaican rum to the U.S. when the bottle label contains a statement of age. The Jamaican Collector General issues this certificate and attests to the age and origin of the rum contained in the bottle.
The "Certificado de Exportacion" is the official certificate issued by the Mexican Government which attests to the authenticity of the Tequila exported to the United States. These certificates are issued by the "Direccion General de Normas" of the Secretaria de Comercio y Fomento Industrial. Mexico authorizes the following Mexican Government officials to sign the "Certificado de Exportacion.
- The Directora General de Normas
- The Delegado Secofi, Guadalajara
The government of Portugal has authorized the following regional authorities to issue certificates of origin for specific Portuguese wines and brandies exported to the U.S.:
- Instituto Do Vinho Do Porto for all port wines
- Instituto Do Vinho da Madeira for Madeira wines
- The Instituto de Viticultura da Regiao dos Vinhos
- Verdes for Vinho Verde wines and brandies
- Federacao dos Vinicultores do Dao for all Dao wines and brandies
- Adega Regional de Colares for Colares wines
- Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho (National Wine Boards) for wines with denomination of origin Moscatel de Setubal or, merely Setubal, Carcavelos, Algarve, Bairrada and Bucelas; rose wines from Beiras, Ribatejo-Oeste and Tras-os-Montes; wines and brandies from any other growing regions.
Please note that a generic European Community or European Union certificate of origin for Portuguese wines, including port wines, can not substitute for an original certificate or origin from one of the agencies listed above.
Officials of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry issue certificates of origin for the wines listed below. This certificate is entitled "Certificate of Origin."
Cabernet Sauvignon Pinot Noir
Tarnave Castle Riesling Valea Dry Riesling
Sparkling wines-methode champenoise
A Certificado De Denominacion De Origin (Certificate of Origin) is required for all Spanish Jerez/Xeres/Sherry wines exported to the United States. The Consejo Regulador de Denominacion de Origen, Jerez De La Frontera is authorized by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture to issue Certificates of origin for sherry wines.
A certificate of age and origin is required for all Spanish brandies exported to the United States. Various local laboratories, sanctioned by the "Ministerio de Agricultura, Pisco y Alimentacion" in Madrid, issue this certificate. This certificate has no title or form number associated with it.
The British Office of Customs and Excise issues certificates of age and origin for all Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey exports to the United States. This document, signed by an officer of H.M. Customs and Excise, is entitled "Certificate for Scotch Whisky/Irish Whiskey Exported to the United States of America," Form C&E 94.
THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION AND THE FORMER REPUBLICS OF THE U.S.S.R
The Russian Federation and the former republics of the U.S.S.R. no longer require certificates of origin and identity for alcoholic beverages exported to the United States.
* Please note that for wines and spirits originating from European countries, TTB understands that European Community (EC) or European Union (EU) certificates of origin documents may not be used as original certificates of origin for any wines or spirits produced or manufactured in those countries in the EC/EU. TTB has been advised that the European Community or European Union certificate of origin document will not suffice for obtaining the release of wines and spirits from U.S. customs custody. It is therefore incumbent upon U.S. wine and spirits importers to obtain, through their foreign suppliers, original certificates of origin from a duly authorized official of the government of the country where such wines and spirits were produced or manufactured.