If you're an eCommerce merchant, you've probably heard about commercial invoices but may not have needed to fill them out since you've only shipped domestically.
But if you plan on expanding your business and shipping internationally, then you're going to need to understand commercial invoices and how to use them. We'll cover the basics in this article and how Easyship streamlines the process of creating, printing and downloading a commercial invoice.
What is a Commercial Invoice?
A commercial invoice is the primary document used for detailing the price, value and quantity of goods being sold. It is the document used to determine taxes and duties and is required for a package to clear customers. For this reason, it is the most important document needed when you're shipping internationally.
Think of this document as not just an invoice or a receipt, but rather a "biography" of the package.
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 Create and Correctly Fill out a Commercial Invoice
Commercial invoices have a universal format that needs to be followed so it can easily be processed. You can find many templates online for free, in addition to paid, premium options. With Easyship, a commercial invoice based on your shipment information is automatically created for every international shipment.
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:
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 recipient. Includes 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
If you want to create your own commercial invoice or use a template, the following websites can help you get started:
How to Print and Download a Commercial Invoice with Easyship
Once commercial invoice is generated, you can easily download and print them through the Easyship dashboard. Here's how:
- Go to: Manage Shipment>To Download
- Click on the 'To Download' link
- Checkbox all the shipments for which you would like to download
- Your shipping documents will be downloaded as .Zip files to the download folder.
- Go to the folder where you downloaded and print the documents
For more detailed instructions, check out our help center article.
Where to Attach a Commercial Invoice for International Delivery
After you download and print the commercial invoice, it should be attached to the package along with the shipping label. For cardboard packages, use a clear packing sleeve or packing tape to affix the commercial invoice. For packing tape, be sure to tape all four sides of the invoice to assure it is tightly affixed.
Create Your Shipping Documents with Easyship
Easyship simplifies and streamlines the process of creating your shipping labels and documents through our dashboard. With each international shipment, all the proper documents are automatically generated for you to easily download and print.
Sign up now for a free Easyship account to supercharge your international shipping!
If you found this article informative, you might enjoy the following: