What you need to know about Commercial Invoice

Commercial Invoice

Basic information about Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a crucial document used in international trade. A commercial invoice is a required document for the export and import clearance process. It is sometimes used for foreign exchange purposes.

Purpose and Importance:

  • A commercial invoice serves as a request for payment for goods sold internationally.
  • It is required by customs to determine applicable taxes, tariffs, or duties for imported goods.
  • Customs authorities use it to prevent any delays during the import process.

When Is It Required?

  • A commercial invoice is mandatory for shipments across international borders.
  • For example, when shipping from the US to Canada, the US to the EU, or any other international destination, you must attach a commercial invoice.

Key Elements of a Commercial Invoice:

  • Header: Includes contact information for both the buyer (importer) and the seller (exporter).
  • Product Details:
  • Country of Origin: Where the goods were manufactured or produced.
  • Harmonized System (HS) Code: A standardized code that classifies products for customs purposes.
  • Product List: Describes the items being shipped.
  • Payment Terms: Specifies how and when payment is expected.
  • Freight Terms: Details the shipping terms (e.g., FOB, CIF).
  • Other Relevant Information: Any additional details necessary for customs clearance.

Proforma Invoice vs Commercial Invoice:

  • Before issuing a commercial invoice, businesses often send a proforma invoice.
  • The proforma invoice provides the buyer with an estimate of the final invoice cost and delivery timing.
  • Unlike the commercial invoice, the proforma invoice does not serve as a request for payment.

How to create one

Commercial Invoice Sample
Commercial Invoice Sample

Header Information:

  • Start by including your company’s details (the seller/exporter) and the recipient’s details (the buyer/importer). Include the following:
    • Your Company Name and Address: Clearly state your business name, address, and contact information.
    • Buyer’s Company Name and Address: Include the recipient’s company name, address, and contact details.

Invoice Number and Date:

  • Assign a unique invoice number to this transaction.
  • Specify the date when the invoice was issued.

Product Details:

  • List the items being shipped. Include the following for each product:
    • Description: A brief description of the product.
    • Quantity: The number of units being shipped.
    • Unit Price: The price per unit.
    • Total Price: Multiply the quantity by the unit price to calculate the total cost for each item.

Currency and Payment Terms:

  • Indicate the currency in which the transaction is conducted (e.g., USD, EUR, JPY).
  • Clearly state the payment terms (e.g., “Payment due within 30 days from the invoice date”).

Shipping and Freight Details:

  • Specify the shipping terms (e.g., FOB, CIF).
  • Include any freight charges or shipping costs.

Country of Origin and HS Code:

  • Mention the country where the goods were manufactured or produced.
  • Assign the appropriate Harmonized System (HS) code for each product. This code helps customs classify the goods.

Additional Notes:

Add any relevant information, such as special instructions, terms, or conditions.

Sign and Date:

  • Sign the invoice to validate it.
  • Include the date of issuance.

It’s also important to keep copies of your commercial invoices for your records and for customs purposes.

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