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When Do You Need a Certificate of Free Sale for Your Exports?

On: August 3, 2022    |    By: David Noah David Noah    |    4 min. read

When Do You Need a Certificate of Free Sale | Shipping SolutionsIt's funny how you can go for years without knowing what something is and then all of a sudden be inundated with questions about that item.

The first time someone called and asked me about a Certificate of Free Sale, I had no idea what they were talking about. Now it seems that I get at least one query every week about that particular export document.

A Certificate of Free Sale is a document that indicates a particular product is marketed in the United States or is eligible for export, and that the particular manufacturer has no unresolved enforcement actions pending before or taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Getting a Certificate of Free Sale

A Certificate of Free Sale, sometimes called a “Certificate for Export” or “Certificate to Foreign Governments,” is evidence that goods, such as food items, cosmetics, biologics or medical devices, are legally sold or distributed in the open market, freely without restriction, and approved by the regulatory authorities in the country of origin (United States).

If your international customer requests a Certificate of Free Sale, you can apply for a Certificate through the Certificate of Free Sale page on the Shipping Solutions website. Here’s how to get yours:

  1. Fill out the registration form on the Shipping Solutions website. There is no charge for registering for this service. You will receive your login credentials along with a set of instructions typically within 24 hours.
  2. Login to the eCO portal. Click Active Applications. Then, under Client Services, click Information and Support.
  3. Download and complete the Certificate of Free Sale Application. It is a fillable PDF. The application is a written declaration from the manufacturer (or from your company if you are the manufacturer) stating that the products are manufactured and freely sold in the United States.

    On the "Company is engaged in exporting" line, give a general description of the type of exporting you do. 

    In the section where you list your products, specify exactly how the products should be listed on the certificate. This should coincide with how they are listed on the commercial invoice by at least 80%. For example: the item is listed as “Grape Shampoo” on the invoice, but you need it to be listed as “Shampoo, Grape, 16 oz.” on the certificate. An example that would not comply would be if “Grape Shampoo” is listed on the invoice, but you need it to be listed as “Special Volume Control Grape Shampoo” on the certificate. If the product name you list on the form does not match the invoice product name, the certificate will not be able to be processed.
  4. For each product you would like listed on the Certificate of Free Sale, your company must submit copies of invoices showing the sale of each product to two different U.S. customers. Your company name and address should be on the invoices. The invoices should be dated within the last 12 months. If you are not the manufacturer of the goods, you will also have to provide a declaration from the manufacturer that the goods were produced in the U.S.
  5. Scan the Application for Certificate of Free Sale and the product invoices into one PDF.
  6. Back on the eCO portal, click the Active Applications button. In the Create Online Application drop-down box, choose OD Other Documents. Click Apply.
  7. Under Attachments to application, click Select Invoices in the drop-down list and upload your PDF of the Application for Certificate of Free Sale and product invoices. Alternatively, you can upload just your product invoices using the Select Invoices button and upload your Application for Certificate of Free Sale by selecting Other Document in the Attachment is drop-down box below the Select Invoices button.
  8. Enter your customer name in Box 1 and select the Country of Destination in Box 2. The customer name will not appear on the certificate but is needed for the system to process the application.
  9. When all the information has been completed, click Submit.
  10. Each Certificate of Free Sale costs $100 (Shipping Solutions Annual Maintenance Program members pay only $75). The Certificate is sent to you via overnight courier at an additional cost. There is no DIY (print yourself) option.  You will receive a certificate on American World Trade Chamber of Commerce (AWTCC) letterhead that includes the requested information as well as a chamber stamp.

Try It Now!

Ready to start the process of getting a Certificate of Free Sale online? Head to Certificate of Free Sale page and register now. There is no obligation.

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David Noah

About the Author: David Noah

David Noah is the founder and president of Shipping Solutions, a software company that develops and sells export documentation and compliance software targeted at U.S. companies that export. David is a frequent speaker on export documentation and compliance issues and has published several articles on the topic.

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