This document is important for customs purposes and shipping is impossible without a commercial invoice. The sensitivity attached to shipping of goods is the other reason why these documents are used and in case of any dispute, evidence will be traced back to commercial invoices for resolution of the situation at hand.
Though there is no specific format in the way a commercial invoice is presented, there are certain features that should not be omitted in such a document. They make the document legal and explain in details what the consignment is all about. Such features include the goods being shipped, which is an outline of the nature of goods in this case.
Those involved in the export transaction also need to be included together with the system code of the goods which is usually harmonized. It also needs to be signed and a confirmation of the invoice as a true report needs to be put in writing. Last but not the least, the country of origin should also be featured. As mentioned earlier, there is no specific format but below is a guideline that you can consider using.
1 Start by formatting the text and title “COMMERCIAL INVOICE.”
2 The next step is to format the shipper information and enter the details. Type “SENDER” and enter the relevant details. This will include the shipper’s tax ID, the name, fax, address and phone number.
3 Next is to format the receiver information and enter relevant details. Do this by typing RECEPIENT. Go ahead and enter the same information as that was required on the part of the sender with details of the receiver.
4 Next is formatting the date information, tracking and reference as well as entering the required details including Invoice date, Invoice number, Tracking number, Reference number, Shipper and Recipient.
5 Next format product details and enter relevant information. This is by feeding these details like Quantity , Origin, Description, HTC Code, Weight, Value and Subtotal.
6 Finally format product details and enter the necessary information. This you can do by entering these details: Total Weight, Declared Value, Total Shipment and Taxes and Fees.
There are a number of intricacies regarding how you go about each of these steps but the guideline is just an outline of what is expected in general terms when you set out to create a commercial invoice on of your own. This you get to learn and discover how to do it easily and better when you are doing it practically.
You may opt for guidance from those who have experience in this if the process proves to be a challenge and thereafter, you will be able to adopt the kind of format that is best suited for you and your transactions. Knowing the basics helps you appreciate the necessary requirements and gives you the fundamental knowledge which will act as a reference point when preparing one.
Both commercial and proforma invoice may be used in international transactions between two parties but there is a significant difference between the two. For example, no payment can be released with the proforma invoice only since it may only act to reveal useful details about the entry of goods. A commercial invoice on the other hand, is considered to be the true invoice which allows payment to be released upon presentation.
The proforma invoice in this case may also serve as a way for both parties to commit themselves regarding transactions in the coming days. The exporting business will also not bill the transaction on the proforma invoice which means that the importing party cannot be held accountable for late payments or nonpayment of a certain consignment if a commercial invoice has not been received.
This is part of the differences that exists between the two and custom officials require the commercial invoice involving any international transaction since it is more detailed and more formal/official as compared to the proforma invoice. The bottom line here is that you will not be able to ship any goods without a commercial invoice. Below are sample templates of commercial invoices.