Commercial Invoice

What is a Commercial Invoice In Shipping?

A commercial invoice is a legal document that is issued by the seller/exporter to the buyer/importer and is required for exporting and importing products. While it contains similar information to other international documents, the commercial invoice is specifically used for customs officials to calculate and assess the duties and taxes owed on the shipment.

For sellers shipping to another country, completing this document correctly will be vital to your product reaching its final destination. Some countries mandate that the invoice to be on a specific form, but for the most part, the seller or exporter’s version is accepted as long as the required information is on the form.

What Information is Included In a Commercial Invoice?

Because there is no universally accepted commercial invoice, there are multiple ways to fill one out. However, the key pieces of information you should include are:

  • Seller/exporter general information (name, phone number, address, etc.)
  • Buyer/Importer general information (name, phone number, address, etc.)
  • Seller/exporter tax identification number
  • Buyer/importer tax identification number
  • Invoice number
  • Date of the Invoice
  • The total amount of the sale
  • Currency used
  • Order number
  • Bill of Lading/International Airwaybill number
  • Shipper’s signature

Here is an example of a commercial invoice used for shipping internationally:

Commercial Invoice

Why are Commercial Invoices Important?

Commercial invoices are important for the sake of international shipping. First and foremost, it is a legal requirement to fill one out accurately. Failure to do so or to not include one at all will halt your shipment right at customs.

Customs officials from the country you are trying to ship to will need this document in order to assess the proper amount of taxes and will not continue to ship the item until they have that information.

In order to avoid any delays, you’ll want to include this form so that they can easily cross-check it with other forms and approve the shipment as soon as possible.

Related Shipping Terms

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