Almost completely self-explanatory, a Certificate of Origin indicates the country of origin of the item/shipment being traded. It is a document that also contains information about the shipment and the destination country.
Also called a Declaration of Origin or a CO, the certificate of origin is supposed to be provided along with the commercial invoice. It has to be signed by the exporter, signature notarised, and then signed and stamped by a Chamber of Commerce official.
A Certificate of Origin is also considered a supporting document while using a Letter of Credit. While there’s no standard format, certain goods may need what is called a ‘preferential’ CO. This can only be used for shipments from countries identified for exemption according to the United States Generalised System of Preferences.