Shipping goods abroad, or importing items into the UK, requires various documents to be completed correctly. One of the most important documents is a Commercial Invoice, and without it goods will not clear customs.
What is a Commercial Invoice?
A Commercial Invoice (CI) is a legal document that details the value and quantity of goods being sold, together with any trade or sales conditions that apply. It is used in the customs process to calculate the duties and taxes that need to be paid. The CI is issued by the seller (exporter) and given to the buyer (importer).
Unlike a Bill of Lading, the Commercial Invoice does not transfer the ownership of goods. It is important to note that a proforma invoice whilst being similar, does not carry the legal status of a Commercial Invoice, and as such is not accepted by customs.
What is in a Commercial Invoice?
There is no fixed format for a Commercial Invoice, but there is certain information which must be present. Details relating to the transaction, exporter and importer, as well as the goods being shipped are required. This includes:
- Invoice number
- Invoice date
- Order number
- Total sale amount
- Payment instructions
- Exporter and Importer information, including name, address, phone number, etc
- Exporter and Importer tax identification numbers, VAT, EORI, etc
- Notify party’s information
- Bill of Lading number
- Forwarding agent
- HS codes
- Clear description of goods, including number of packages, units, gross and net weight, etc
- Incoterm under which the merchandise has been sold
- Country of origin
- Insurance information
- Date of export, means of transport, and final destination
- Shipper’s signature
Your logistics partner will be able to send you a template for a Commercial Invoice, and they are also available online. Completing the information in a clear and easy to understand way is vital to ensuring a swift customs clearance.
What are the risks of not completing a Commercial Invoice correctly?
As the Commercial Invoice is a legal document, not completing it, or providing misleading information can result in additional delays, fees, and fines. If in doubt, seek advice before you attempt to take goods through customs!
How can we help?
Here at AGI we have a huge amount of experience when it comes to the customs processes, including Commercial Invoices. Working with companies, we can advise on the exact information that is required, and provide templates that will ensure the smoothest clearance possible. We can also advise on some of the other customs documents and processes that are required.
If you would like to find out more, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.