The commercial invoice is a crucial document as it states who is buying from whom and the shipping terms agreed. Whether you are importing or exporting having a commercial invoice is a must.
10 Items That Belong On Your Commercial Invoice
1. Company Name
It may sound obvious but when preparing your commercial documents make sure you detail your company name and address. If you have company letter-headed paper, you can use it to ensure your details are correct with no typos.
2. Receiving Party
Whether you are preparing the invoice for export or receiving an invoice from your supplier, make sure the receiving party (consignee) is clearly detailed with their name and address. If the invoice is for you and you are an Australian business add in your ABN.
3. PO Number
In most cases, you will have a Purchase Order (PO Number) when completing a commercial transaction. Adding this to your invoice will be a quick and easy way for all parties to determine which shipment is being referenced.
4. Shipping Terms
Including your shipping terms on the commercial invoice will help all parties identify what they are responsible for in terms of costs. Unsure on incoterms? Read our beginners guide to incoterms for more information.
5. Forwarding Agent
Whilst including the forwarding agent is not a necessity, this will help your shipping process run with ease. If your supplier has selected an agent to work with, the shipment will be passed to their partner agent in the receiving country. If you have a preferred broker you work with, detail this on the commercial invoice and your shipment will be handed directly to your broker. This will save you from being contacted by a third party on arrival to clear your shipment.
6. Detailed Product Descriptions
It is important that your commercial invoice includes detailed product descriptions to ensure the correct tariff codes and concessions are applied. Remember that whilst a product description may make sense to you, the brokers that are dealing with your shipment may not have heard of your business before. The more information you can provide the better. If your products are samples you must also ensure this is detailed in the product description.
7. Product Quantities
For each product, that you are buying or selling, detail the quantity on the commercial invoice. This will ensure the correct duties are calculated on your shipment.
8. Product Value
The purpose of the commercial invoice is to show the Commercial Value of the goods you are buying or selling. This is the value that you are selling or buying your product for, not the final sale price of the goods. Ensure the product value is detailed against each line and include the currency of your value.
At the bottom of your invoice, it is useful to certify the authenticity of the document and the origin of the goods. This will further support any tariff concessions that are applicable with Free Trade Agreements.
A signature at the end of your document will again provide further authenticity and verify that the document is unique and original.
Now your document is complete.
Commercial Invoice Example
One Last Tip
If this is your first time importing or exporting use the expertise of your forwarder to help. Ask them to check the commercial invoice prior to goods arriving or departing and they will detail any changes you need to make.
Should you have any questions regarding commercial invoice please contact your ICE team member on 1300 CARGO1.