As an exporter or a small business owner selling merchandise internationally, you know that having a flawless shipping process is vital to the success of every sale. From understanding country-based rules and regulations, to ensuring proper tracking and shipment insurance, you have a lot to take care of. But there's one very important document to get right; Your commercial invoice.
A commercial invoice provides customs authorities information about the shipment such as shipper details, description of the goods and their commercial value, to help them assess applicable taxes and duties. Having a solid commercial invoice will ensure your products get through customs without set-backs, speeding up the delivery process, and ultimately keeping your customers happy.
But you probably don't want to spend hours creating a commercial invoice every time you complete a sale. So what's the smart way to go about it? Using commercial invoice templates that you can easily fill out in minutes will save you valuable time and ensure consistency in your invoices while eliminating the risks of missing important information.
To help you create your template, let's go over the essential elements that must be included in a commercial invoice.
Essential Elements of a Commercial Invoice Template
When you create a commercial invoice, you must ensure all required details are included, and the important information is clearly filled out for customs purposes. This will help avoid long hold-ups, extra costs for shipping delays, and even legal ramifications in the case of underpayment of duties or taxes.
To make sure your commercial invoices are on point, every time, include the following essential elements on your template.
The first section of your commercial invoice template is for shipper/exporter information. Include your full name (or organization's name if it's registered differently), postal address, phone number and email address. You may also include your tax registration number and license information. If you have a company logo or some kind of business branding you can add it to this section as well at the top of the invoice template.
Next, include all the contact details of the consignee (recipient/buyer). You need the full name, billing address, phone number and shipping address if it's different from the billing information. If there is an intermediate consignee such as a custom broker or bank, make sure to include their information in this section as well.
Invoice Number and Date
It's important to assign a unique invoice number to all of your commercial invoices, as well as the date when the invoice was created. Additionally you can include a customer reference number that can help you keep your records organized, and it's also useful for your customers in case they need to contact you again with questions, concerns or returns.
Before you list out the goods being shipped, include a section on your commercial invoice form to provide details of the shipment. These can be the country of origin of the merchandise, the date the shipment went into transit, means of transportation, final destination, and the Incoterm under which the products are being sold (terms of sale or freight). Include as well an order number for your internal tracking purposes, any shipping insurance information and the reason for export (repair, sale, inter-company, etc...)
Detail of the Goods Sold
A commercial invoice is used for customs declaration purposes, so you want to ensure the goods sold are clearly stated and detailed in your invoices. In this section of your commercial invoice template, describe the products being shipped, including gross weight (with and without packaging), total quantity of each product, packaging information (envelope, box, etc...), unit of measurement, and unit price.
Make sure you also include the six-digit HS code of each product being shipped as well as the total amount of packages in the shipment.
There may be additional charges expected to be paid by the customer. If so, include them in a separate section of your commercial invoice template. These may be insurance fees, export transportation, shipping & handling costs, or freight charges. Even if these additional charges are discussed in advance with your client, it is always best to itemize them to avoid any misunderstandings.
Total Order Amount
In this section of your commercial invoice, you will state the total commercial value of the shipment (all merchandise covered on the previous sections), specify any discounts you may be offering your client, add the applicable taxes, and then the total order amount. Don't forget to specify the currency of settlement, which is usually the currency of the seller's country (If you are shipping from the U.S to Canada, the currency will be in U.S. Dollars)
At the bottom of your commercial invoice form, include a section for your Declaration Statement, which is legally required for all outgoing international shipments. With this declaration, you are affirming that the information provided to Customs on your commercial invoice regarding your shipment is true and accurate.
It can simply read: "I hereby certify that the contents and value of this shipment are as stated, and the information on this invoice is true and correct". This must be followed by the shipper's signature and date.
Create your Commercial Invoices with our Free Invoice Template
With all your day-to-day tasks, you probably don't have much time left for creating professional and efficient commercial invoice templates. If you want to save time, and skip the headache, simply download Bonsai's commercial invoice template, fill in the required shipment details, and you'll be ready to print out a perfect commercial invoice in minutes.
You can customize our invoice templates to fit your business needs so you'll have a personalized invoice to use every time you ship products internationally. Additionally, with our all-in-one business suite, you'll find excellent administrative tools to further improve your invoicing, accounting, and payment processes.
Aside from creating your commercial invoices, you can keep track of payments, business expenses, get tax estimations, receive online payments, and even get a business checking account. Check out everything Bonsai has to offer and take your business to the next level.