What is a Commercial Invoice for Customs?

Learn about the purpose of commercial invoices, why you need to include them with international shipments, and how to generate them

If you’re planning on sending an international shipment, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all customs forms filled out properly. Most international labels have customs forms built into the same sheet, which makes things easy. However, depending on the country you’re shipping to, you may notice extra documents that come with your label. These extra sheets are called Commercial Invoices…and they’re more important than you might think.

You Need to Include Commercial Invoices with International Shipments

Commercial invoices are an essential part of all customs forms. The commercial invoice is the primary document that foreign countries use for importation control, valuation, and duty determination. Also, commercial invoices identify the product(s) inside of packages. So, without these invoices, the destination country has no way to determine what the products are, and subsequently, how much customs duties and import taxes they need to charge the recipient.

What Kind of Info Appears in a Commercial Invoice?

Typically, you’ll find the following information printed in commercial invoices included with customs forms:

  • The name and address information for both the shipper and recipient
  • Phone numbers for both shipper and the recipient
  • Terms of Sale
  • Reason for exporting the item
  • A complete description of the item
    • What is the item?
    • What are the uses of the item?
  • Harmonized Tariff Codes, if known
  • Country or territory of origin (where manufactured) for each commodity
  • Number of units, unit value, and total value (purchase price) of each item
  • Number of packages and total weight
  • Shipper’s signature and date

Shipping Software Takes Care of All of This For You

If all the info above seems like a lot to keep track of, you’re not wrong! However, when you buy labels with shipping software, these commercial invoices get generated for you automatically along with customs forms, so you don’t have to worry about filling them out manually. On top of the huge savings you get by accessing special discounts from carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx, that’s another benefit of using shipping software to buy postage online. International shipping is complicated enough as is…so, let those guys take care of all this stuff for you!

Looking for some recommendations for shipping software? Check out our Reviews page to read recommendations written by shippers like you!


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