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What Is a Commercial Invoice?

A commercial invoice is a document required by customs to determine the value of the goods in foreign trade. This is used as a customs declaration prepared by the seller that is exporting the goods across international borders and is used to calculate tariffs and international commercial terms, such as the cost sheet in a cost, insurance, and freight (CIF). Commonly, there is no required or standard format for the invoice, but as a minimum, it must include the following essential information: the parties involved in the transaction, the goods being transported, the country of manufacture, terms of sale, and insurance, shipping, and other charges.

How to Make a Commercial Invoice

1. Write the Details Related to the Transaction

The transaction-related details that must be presented in your invoice are as follows: invoice number, invoice date, order invoice number, total amount, currency, and payment schedule instructions. Note that the invoice number must be unique from all other invoice numbers to specifically identify the transaction, the invoice date is the date of the issuance of the invoice, and the payment instructions must specify the modes and methods of payment.

2. Write the Details Related to the Importer and Exporter

You must also present the details related to the importer and exporter as follows: seller's or exporter's information, such as the name, address, and contact number; seller's tax identification number; buyer's or importer's information, such as the name, address, and contact number; and buyer's tax identification number.

3. Write the Information Related to the Shipping of Goods

The following shipment-related details must be present in your commercial or business invoice: bill of lading number, forwarding agent, description of goods, origin or merchandise, insurance, date of export, means of transport, final destination, seller's signature, and shipper's signature if the shipper is different from the seller.

4. Translate the Invoice

If desired, you may translate the invoice into the national language of the country of destination. Remember to include the original copy, the invoice in your own language, when you send the service invoice to the buyer.

5. Compare the Invoice with Other Documents

You must also compare the details on the commercial invoice with any other documents, such as the letters of credit or customs forms, to make sure that the details match.

6. Check and Recheck

Double-check everything—the details of the invoice with the contents of your shipment—to correct any errors found. Also check if there are numerical errors, especially in the date and the amount. Make sure that your document is free from material errors and misspellings. This is important because errors can really affect the credibility of your company as well as your branding. So, ensure that there are no errors before you print your sample invoice.

7. Print Two Copies

You must print two copies of your commercial invoice; put one copy inside the shipment and the other copy in a clear envelope attached outside of the package. After this, you can now ship your goods to the designated country.