What is a commercial invoice?

commercial invoice is an important document needed when you're shipping internationally, as commercial couriers need it to clear your package through customs. 

Think of this document as not just an invoice or a receipt, but rather a "biography" of the item.

The importance of commercial invoices in eCommerce

Commercial invoices are important for both B2B and B2C companies. Shipping to foreign destinations can be tricky, but as long as you provide proper documents, it will go smoothly.

Besides getting your packages through customs, commercial invoices:

  • Provide your customer additional details on their order
  • Help businesses evaluate sales and calculate annual reports
  • Can be used to discover insights on target markets for specific products
  • Can be an organized way to help with cash flow

How to fill out a commercial invoice

Filling out a commercial invoice isn't as complicated as you think. Below is an example of a commercial invoice that is automatically generated with Easyship

Sample Commercial Invoice Easyship

Let's go through each section of the invoice. 

  • Air waybill number: This is the number you'll find on your courier's shipping label.
  • Date of export: Date of your shipment
  • Invoice number: Unique number your store uses for billing purposes
  • Ref number: In this case, this is the Easyship shipping reference number
  • Exporter / Shipper: These are the details for the sender. Includes Company Name, Street Address, Contact Name, Contact Phone or Fax Number, Email Address, and Country from where the shipment is being shipped from
  • Ship to / Consignee: These are details for the recipientIncludes Company Name, Street Address, Contact Name, Contact Phone or Fax Number, Email Address, and Country that the shipment is being shipped to
  • Items / Qty / Part #: The quantity, rate and amount of the items in the package
  • Full description of goods: A clear description of the item which may include model number and style.
  • Country of origin: Where the item came from 
  • Harmonised code: The special code used by the World Customs Organization to classify the item
  • Unit value: The amount you sold the item for
  • Total value: Total amount of the item(s)
  • Total weight: Weight of the package
  • Shipment term: How the taxes will be handled. DDU: Deliver Duty Unpaid or DDP: Deliver Duty Paid. Learn what DDU and DDP means.

At the bottom, you'll have:

  • Declaration and signing to validate the information in the invoice by the sender
  • You might also see a stamp, date, and signature by the customs authority that the package went through

How to create a commercial invoice

Commercial invoices have a universal format that needs to be followed so it can easily be processed.

You can find many commercial invoice templates online for free, in addition to paid, premium options.

If you want to create your own commercial invoice, the following websites can  help you get started:

Sufio - Invoices for online stores

Intuit Quickbooks

Freshbooks.com

Commercialinvoiceform.org

As a reminder, Easyship automatically generates commercial invoices for all international shipments.

Next steps

commercial invoice cat

Once that commercial invoice is generated, print it* and attach it along with your shipping label to your shipment. Your shipment is now ready to go!

*Cat assistant optional.

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