Israeli Customs stringently enforces import documentation regulations, including the requirement for a U.S. Certificate of Origin for exports to Israel. Therefore, U.S. exporters should meticulously follow the advice given below and always double-check with freight forwarders and shippers before the goods leave the United States to avoid potentially lengthy delays when the goods enter Israel.
In order for U.S. exporters to qualify for preferential access to the Israeli market, a special certificate of origin must accompany all shipments from the United States to Israel. The FTA came into full effect in 1995. Under this agreement, American companies exporting to Israel can gain greater market access, reduce transaction costs, increase sales, enhance export revenues and become more competitive in the Israeli marketplace. Israeli Customs advises that it will no longer be possible for goods to be cleared through customs if the correct certificate of origin form is not attached to the other standard shipping documents. U.S. exporters are encouraged to qualify for preferential tariff treatment and to obtain, when necessary, a certificate of nonmanipulation for trans-shipments.
The certificate does not need to be notarized or stamped by a Chamber of Commerce if the exporter is also the manufacturer. Instead, the exporter should make the following declaration in box 11 of the certificate: "The undersigned hereby declares that he is the producer of the goods covered by this certificate and that they comply with the origin requirements specified for those goods in the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area Agreement for goods exported to Israel." The actual forms are printed by a number of commercial printing houses in the United States. For more information, please see the U.S. Commercial Service webpage on the Certificate of Origin in Israel.
The Israeli Customs Services prefer that exporters use their own commercial invoice forms containing all required information including name and address of supplier, general nature of the goods, country of origin of the goods, name and address of the customer in Israel, name of the agent in Israel, terms, rate of exchange (if applicable), Israel import license number (if applicable), shipping information, and a full description of all goods in the shipment including shipping marks, quantity or measure, composition of goods (by percentage if mixed), tariff heading number, gross weight of each package, net weight of each package, total weight of shipment, price per unit as sold, and total value of shipment. The total value of the shipment includes packing, shipping, dock and agency fees, and insurance charges incurred in the exportation of the goods to Israel. The commercial invoice must be signed by the manufacturer, consignor, owner, or authorized agent. U.S. exporters should also double check with their freight forwarder, shipping company or importer to find out if any other documentation, including bill of lading and packing list, is required. It is imperative that these issues be addressed before the goods arrive at the Israeli port, to avoid any possible delays and storage fees. In addition, U.S. goods that are transshipped through third countries require a Certificate of Non-Manipulation from the customs authority of the third country, in order to qualify for the FTA preferential tariff.
Authorization Procedures for "Approved Exporter" Status
Potential candidates for “Approved Exporter” status are U.S. firms with total annual exports to Israel of at least $20 million that have a clean record with the Israel Customs Services. Israel Customs will examine whether the manufacturer or exporter complies with the criteria and grant approval for "Approved Exporter" status. The approved exporter will be given an identity number to be stamped on all invoices. The approval is valid for six months, after which the exporter should receive an automatic extension from Israel Customs. If the exporter does not receive an extension notice he/she must terminate use of the approval.
Compliance Procedures for Approved Exporters
The "Approved Exporter" should stamp the invoice with his/her identity number and add the following declaration: "The undersigned hereby declares that the goods listed in this invoice were prepared in the United States and they comply with the origin requirements specified for those goods in the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area Agreement for goods exported to Israel." For shipments of mixed goods, separate invoices must be prepared for goods that do not comply with origin requirements and/or for which approval to operate as an "Approved Exporter" has not been granted.