International Affairs Division (IAD)

Certificate of Age and Origin Requirements for Imported Alcohol Beverages

This webpage provides U.S. importers with a comprehensive listing of certificate of age and origin requirements for wines and distilled spirits imported into the United States.  As per TTB Industry Circular 2010-4, TTB notifies industry members of updates to these certificate requirements through a press release and through the TTB Newsletter.

When is a certificate of age or origin required for imported alcohol beverages as a condition of release from customs custody?

For wine, 27 CFR 4.45 requires that the importer obtain a certificate of origin when it has been mandated by the appropriate foreign government.  See Section A below for information on which countries mandate a certificate of origin for wine.

For distilled spirits imported in bottles, 27 CFR 5.52(e) requires that the importer obtain a certificate of origin when it has been mandated by the appropriate foreign government.  See Section A below for information on which countries mandate a certificate of age or origin for spirits.  Further:

  • For Scotch, Irish, and Canadian whiskeys, 27 CFR 5.52(a) requires the importer to obtain a certificate of age and origin.
  • For Brandy and Cognac, 27 CFR 5.52(b) requires the importer to obtain a certificate of age.  In addition, 27 CFR 5.52(b) requires the importer to obtain a certificate of origin for Cognac.
  • For rum, 27 CFR 5.52(b) requires the importer to obtain a certificate of age if the label contains any statement of age.
  • For Tequila, 27 CFR 5.52(c) requires the importer to obtain a certificate of origin.  Also, 27 CFR 5.52(c) requires the importer to obtain a certificate of age if the label contains any statement of age.
  • For many other whiskies containing no neutral spirits, 27 CFR 5.52(d) requires the importer to obtain a document certifying the class and type, the American proof, that no neutral spirits (or other whisky for straight whiskies) have been added or included, the age, and the type of oak container.
  • For many other whiskies containing neutral spirits, 27 CFR 5.52(d) requires the importer to obtain a document certifying the class and type, the percentage of straight whisky, the American proof, the percentage of other whisky, the percentage of neutral spirits, the age of the whiskies in the blend, and the type of oak container.

For distilled spirits imported in bulk, 27 CFR 5.56 requires that the bottling plant possess and maintain, at their plant facility, the same certificates of age or origin detailed above and in 27 CFR 5.52, prior to the commercial bottling and release of any such beverage alcohol.

For beer, there are no certificate requirements for age or origin as a condition of release from customs custody.

When a certificate is not required, does TTB verify label claims of age or origin?

27 CFR 4.38(h) and 5.33(g) give TTB the authority, as part of the label approval process for wine and distilled spirits, to request additional information to verify the contents of the container.  If the government of the country or origin issues a certificate of age or origin this should suffice to validate such label claims.  U.S. importers are advised that although a particular country may not issue an official certificate of age or origin for its domestic wine or distilled spirit products, the holder of the Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) bears the responsibility to substantiate any label claims, including age or origin.  See Section B for a list of countries that have notified TTB of private or public organizations that can certify the origin of wines and spirits.  U.S. importers should make every effort to obtain an English language version of the documentation. 

Any additional information for U.S. importers on the subject of age and origin?

U.S. importers are advised that wine and distilled spirits products may not be processed or manipulated in any manner that is inconsistent with mandatory certificates of age or origin and that it is TTB’s position that the intent of our regulations can be met only if a specific certificate can be tied to a specific lot or lots of product.  U.S. importers are further advised that making an improper label claim about age or origin of products is a violation of 27 U.S.C. 205(e), potentially leading to the suspension or revocation of a permit.  Any person violating the provisions of section 205(e) could also be found guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, be fined not more than $1,000 for each offense.

Are there any other certificate requirements for imported alcohol beverages?

For natural wines, Section 2002 of the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004, requires the importer to obtain a certificate stating that the practices and procedures used to produce the imported wine constitute proper cellar treatment.  For more information, please see https://ttb.gov/wine/wine-certs.shtml.

May I use photocopies of certificates?

No.  TTB’s long-standing policy has been that only original certificates are acceptable.

Can generic European Community or European Union certificates of origin be substituted for national certificates of origin?

No.  Generic European Community or European Union certificates of origin for wines or spirits originating in these countries cannot be substituted for an original certificate of origin from one of the agencies listed in Section A below. 

What role does U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) play in this process?

TTB has officially notified CBP regarding all imported wines and distilled spirits that are covered by compulsory certificates of age and origin.  The final decision to permit or not permit the entry into the United States of imported alcohol beverages which require certificates of age or origin rests with the appropriate CBP official at the port of entry. 

SECTION A

Countries with Specific Certificate Requirements

Section A contains a list of foreign countries that have requested the U.S. Government to require that certain wines and distilled spirits produced within those countries be accompanied by a certificate of age or origin issued and signed by a duly authorized official from that government and also identifies the wines and distilled spirits subject to that government’s certificate of origin requirement.  Section A also includes the certificates of age and origin that are mentioned in 27 CFR 5.52 in so far as a specific country is associated with the requirement. Finally, Section A provides examples of the required certificates and offices that are duly authorized to sign the certificates on behalf of that foreign government.

Canada

Portugal

France

Republic of Ireland

Jamaica

Spain

Mexico

United Kingdom

CANADA

Canadian distillers are required and authorized to issue age and origin certificates for Canadian Whiskey, Canadian Rye Whiskey, rum, brandy, and Highland Whiskey exported to the United States.  These certificates are signed by Canadian Excise Officers who are in charge of various licensed distilleries.  This document, while not standard in format, is typically titled "Certificate of Age and Origin."  This certificate is also required by 27 CFR 5.52(a).

FRANCE

The Government of France issues certificates of origin for Champagne, Cognac, and Armagnac.  The certificate is required for all exported Champagne, Cognac, and Armagnac.  All imported bottles of Champagne, Cognac, and Armagnac must be accompanied by the appropriate document, as follows:

  • Champagne – "Champagne Certificate" issued by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC).  Sample Champagne Certificate.
  •  Cognac – "Cognac Certificate of Age and Origin" issued by the Bureau of Cognac (BNIC).    This certificate is also required by 27 CFR 5.52(b)Sample Cognac Certificate.
  • Armagnac – "Armagnac Certificate of Age and Origin" issued by the Bureau of Armagnac (BNIA).  Sample Armagnac Certificate.

French Customs does not necessarily stamp the certificates.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

JAMAICA

A "Certificate of Origin Form A" is required to accompany exported rum products from Jamaica.  However, this document does not require the certification of a Jamaican Government agency. 

If the exporter chooses, the Jamaican Trade Board can validate certificates of origin.  In order for the certificate to be validated, the exporter must submit to the Trade Board an application with product analysis, as proof that the product meets the origin criteria.

MEXICO

The "Certificate of Authenticity for Exports of Tequila (Certificado de Autenticidad para la Exportación de Tequila – ‘CET’)" is the official certificate issued by the Mexican Government which attests to the authenticity of Tequila exported to the United States.  These certificates, which are required by 27 CFR 5.52(c) for all Tequila exports to the United States, are issued by the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) (Consejo Regulador del Tequila, A.C.).  Only duly accredited officials of the CRT are authorized to sign the "Certificado de Exportación."  This form is two-sided.  Sample Tequila Certificate of Origin (front side); Sample Tequila Certificate of Origin (rear side).

PORTUGAL

The Government of Portugal has authorized the following regional authorities to issue required certificates of origin for specific Portuguese wines and brandies exported to the United States:

  • Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto for all port wines; Sample Portuguese Port Certificate of Origin.
  • Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira for Madeira wines;
  • Comissão de Viticultura da Região dos Vinhos Verdes for Vinho Verde wines and brandies;
  • Comissão Vitivinícola Regional do Dão for all Dão wines and brandies;
  • Adega Regional de Colares for Colares wines; and
  • Comissões Vitivinícolas Regionais (Regional Vitivinicultural Boards) for wines with denominations of origin Moscatel de Setubal or, merely Setubal, Carcavelos, Algarve, Bairrada and Bucelas; rosé wines from Beiras, Ribatejo-Oeste, Tras-os-Montes, and wines and brandies from any other growing regions.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

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 titled "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.  This certificate is also required by 27 CFR 5.52(a)Sample Irish Whiskey Certificate of Origin.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

SPAIN

A "Certificado De Denominación De Origen" (Certificate of Origin) is required for all Spanish Jerez/Xeres/Sherry wines exported to the United States.  The Consejo Regulador de las Denominaciones de Origen "Jerez-Xérès-Sherry" - "Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda" - "Vinagre de Jerez" is authorized by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture to issue certificates of origin for Jerez/Xeres/Sherry wines.

Certificates of age and origin are required for all Spanish brandies exported to the United States.  These certificates are issued by various local laboratories sanctioned by the Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente.  This certificate has no title or form number associated with it.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

UNITED KINGDOM

Required certificates of age and origin are issued by a British Officer of Customs and Excise for all Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey exports to the United States.  This document is titled "Certificate for Scotch Whisky/Irish Whiskey Exported to the United States of America," Form C&E 94. This certificate is also required by 27 CFR 5.52(a)Sample Scotch-Irish Whisky C&E 94 Certificate of Origin.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

SECTION B

Countries That Do Not Impose Specific Certification Requirements, But Have Notified TTB of Domestic Certifying Bodies

Section B contains a list of foreign countries that have not requested the U.S. Government to condition release from customs custody upon the presentation of a certificate of origin for their wines and distilled spirits.  However, Importers are required to be able to substantiate a label claim of age or origin on wine or distilled spirits if requested.  A certificate is one acceptable form of substantiation.  The foreign governments listed in this section have notified TTB of private or public organizations that can certify the origin of wines and spirits.  Certificates of origin issued under these circumstances may vary in format and appearance.

Bulgaria
Germany
Romania

BULGARIA

The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is authorized by the Bulgarian Government to issue country of origin certificates for all Bulgarian wines and distilled spirits exported to the United States.  This document is titled "Certificate of Origin" and is stamped with the official seal of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

 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.  The only exceptions are "May" wines and "Sekt" (Sparkling) wines which are not considered wines under German Law and, therefore, are not covered under a certification procedure. 

The certificate of origin for German wines is entitled "Certificate of Origin for German Wine to the USA."  The certificate of origin for German distilled spirits is titled "Certificate of Origin and Age."

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

ROMANIA

Officials of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry issue certificates of origin for the wines listed below.  This certificate is titled "Certificate of Origin."

  • Cabernet Sauvignon;
  • Pinot Noir;
  • Tarnave Castle Riesling;
  • Valea Dry Riesling;
  • Merlot;
  • Cotnari; and
  • Sparkling wines—methode Champenoise.

Please also see the note above regarding generic European Community/European Union certificates of origin.

Where can I get more information?

Inquiries concerning country of origin certification requirements should be addressed to the Director, International Affairs Division, Suite 400W, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G St. NW, Box 12, Washington, DC 20005. You may also contact the division by phone at 202-453-2260 or by email at IAD@ttb.gov.

 

TTB G 2010-16
OPR: ITD
Date: 9/22/2010



Page last reviewed/updated: 11/05/2012

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