Four Key Requirements for a Commercial Invoice

Date published: August 24, 2020

When importing a product into the United States, it’s important to avoid lengthy delays or rejections at the border. To avoid complications, importers need to ensure that their commercial invoice, which is the primary document that Customs will require before clearing a product for entry, is complete and free of errors, omissions, and conflicting information. Here are four requirements that a commercial or proforma invoice must include:

Terms of Sale

According to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, a commercial invoice must include information about the terms of the sale. This includes:

  • Date of sale
  • Place of sale
  • Seller’s name and address
  • Buyer’s name and address

Shipment Terms

Similarly to the terms of sale, a commercial invoice must also include pertinent information about the shipment terms, including:

  • Date of shipment
  • Place of shipment
  • Destination port
  • Shipper’s name
  • Receiver or consignee’s name

Merchandise Details

To ensure that a product is able to enter the United States without any complications, a commercial invoice has to include detailed information about the product.

  • Detailed descriptions of the merchandise
  • Shipping and packaging marks and numbers, which detail the contents of each package
  • Quantities in weights and measures
  • Country of origin
  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Classification

Merchandise Value

Finally, a commercial invoice must include detailed information about the value of the merchandise being brought into the United States. A commercial invoice should include details such as:

  • Unit and total purchase price
  • Currency of the sale
  • Purchase price of all charges, including cost of packing, cases, containers, and inland freight to the port of exportation, if this information is not specifically included in the purchase price
  • Any rebates or commissions
  • Any goods or services furnished for the product of the merchandise that is not included in the invoice price
  • Any discounts allowed on the price of the merchandise

Along with the terms of sale, the shipment terms, and the details about the merchandise and the merchandise value, the commercial invoice should also include the name of an employee who has knowledge of the transaction, or who can readily obtain knowledge of the transaction.

All the above details and any other information should also be in English. Additionally, all details should be presented in an accessible, easy-to-read way. For example, the commercial invoice should avoid language that might be easily understood by buyers and sellers within a specific industry but not by people outside that industry, as this could confuse the reader of the invoice.

For certain products, there might be additional information that must be included in a commercial invoice. However, the above information will suffice for most products. To find out if a product requires additional details on a commercial invoice, please see this list from the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

By making sure that all the relevant information is included in a commercial invoice, avoid delays and complications when seeking to important a product into the United States. For more information on commercial invoices, consult this checklist.

At CB Services, we can review your commercial invoice for accuracy. Get started by filling out this Proforma invoice and please contact us for a review of your commercial invoice.

This content is intended for informational purposes. Due to the generality of this content, the provided information may not be applicable in all situations. We encourage the reader to review the most up-date-regulations directly with the U.S. government’s sources on commercial invoices.