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Commercial Invoice

March 9, 2023
Last Updated:
July 23, 2023
5 min read

✔️Learn why a commercial invoice is essential when it comes to international shipping, how to fill out one, & download our handy PDF template.

Commercial Invoice

Table of Contents

Creating a commercial invoice for shipping goods is an important step in any international shipment.

International trade relies on commercial invoices as proof of legal and financial transactions between buyers and sellers.

With the right template, businesses can quickly fill out the required information for customs clearance and ensure their shipments arrive at their destination without any problems or delays.

Here's everything you need to know about this essential shipping document.

What Is a Commercial Invoice?

A commercial invoice is a critical legal document for any commercial transaction. It provides assurance that the terms of a sale between a buyer and seller and associated costs are valid and officially accepted.

Necessary for all international shipments, the freight commercial invoice captures vital details of the shipped goods.

However, those transporting goods within the European Union may not need a commercial invoice at all. The "free circulation" status of goods shipped between EU countries allows them to be transported without any customs regulations.

Accurately filling out your freight commercial invoice is essential for guaranteeing the swift delivery of your shipment. Additionally, it helps avoid delays, legal ramifications, warnings, or fines by customs.

Uses of a Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice serves two purposes:

  • Official record of purchase — allows both parties to protect their commercial interests and confirm the terms and costs of a sale
  • Customs purposes — as an essential customs document, it is used to assist customs officials in determining any applicable duties and taxes on goods being imported into their country

How to Fill out a Commercial Invoice

To correctly fill out a commercial invoice form, you will need to include the following invoice elements:

  • Shipper information — the shipper's name and address
  • Consignee information — the consignee's name and address
  • ‍Invoice date — the date when the invoice was issued
  • Shipping method — can be either sea, air, truck, or rail
  • Type of shipment — can be either Full Container Load (FCL), Less Than Container Load (LCL), Full Truck Load (FTL), Less Than a Truck Load (LTL), Air, or Break Bulk
  • ‍Country of origin — the country where the goods were manufactured
  • Country of destination — the country where goods will be finally delivered
  • ‍Port of loading and port of discharge — seaport or airport in respective loading and discharge locations
  • Departure date — the date of delivery or handover
  • ‍Incoterms — specify which commercial term will be used
  • Shipment details — an itemized list of the goods being shipped with specific descriptions that include quantity, measurements, total weight, HS codes, and SKUs
  • ‍Bank details — account information including account number and sort codes to the importer's bank account
  • Payment terms — the terms and conditions and the payment details that include accepted payment methods, currencies, and payment due date
  • ‍Cost breakdown — including unit price, deductions, charges, fees, taxes, and the total price or total amount payable
  • ‍Name and signature of authorized signatories

Download a Commercial Invoice Template

Creating a commercial invoice doesn't have to be complicated and time-consuming. With Cargoflip's free commercial invoice template, you can easily fill out all the information required to complete a commercial invoice quickly and accurately.

commercial invoice free PDF template
Commercial Invoice PDF Template

It's a customizable PDF that ensures your commercial invoices contain the necessary information. Save yourself valuable time and get a compliant invoice in no time.

Accounting Made Easy

Commercial invoices are an essential part of shipping goods internationally. Carefully completing a commercial invoice for each shipment is important to ensure your shipments arrive at their destination without any problems or delays.

Using Cargoflip's templates saves time and effort with every transaction, ensuring accurate accounting in the process.

Make life simpler by entering your information once, and watch as Cargoflip magically fills out every field on your commercial invoice as well as any other important documents you may require.

Don’t leave your paperwork to luck and manual data entry. Entrust the process to Cargoflip and our free shipping document templates to make sure that everything is done correctly the first time.

Commercial Invoice FAQ

What is the difference between a commercial invoice and an invoice?

When a business renders services or provides goods, it issues an invoice to outline the sale and request payment. If a company is making international deliveries, however, it must use a commercial invoice instead of just a regular one.

Can a commercial invoice be handwritten?

No, commercial invoices must not be handwritten. They must be printed on official document paper and should include all the necessary information about the shipment.

Is a shipping invoice the same as a commercial invoice?

No, a shipping invoice does not provide the same level of detail as a commercial invoice. A shipping invoice lists the cost of shipments, while a commercial invoice includes additional information such as origin and destination, Harmonized System Code (HS code), and other terms of sale and shipment.

What is the difference between a commercial invoice and a customs invoice?

A customs invoice can be thought of as a rough bill of sale that is used for more high-value orders and works to provide the final details. Comparatively, commercial invoices are utilized by smaller merchants who have already been paid by their customers.

What is a commercial invoice number?

A commercial invoice number is a unique invoice number assigned to each invoice, typically found at the top of the document. It helps track and monitor shipments, payments, and invoices.

What are the terms of sale for a commercial invoice?

The terms of sale are a set of conditions that describe how the buyer and seller have agreed to do business.

Who signs the commercial invoice?

The commercial invoice should be signed by both the seller and buyer in order to be valid.

What's the difference between a pro forma invoice and a commercial invoice?

There are several differences between a proforma and a commercial invoice, the most important being that a commercial invoice is a legal document used when goods have been shipped. In contrast, a pro forma invoice is an estimate of what will be shipped and can't be used as an official document.

Do you include freight on a commercial invoice?

Yes, freight charges are typically included on a commercial invoice. A commercial invoice is a document that provides an itemized list of goods shipped, their values, and terms of sale. It serves as a bill for the goods and includes various charges associated with the shipment, such as the cost of goods, freight charges, insurance costs, and any other applicable fees. Including freight charges on the commercial invoice ensures transparency and helps customs authorities accurately assess the value of the goods.

What is a freight commercial invoice?

A freight commercial invoice is a type of commercial invoice that specifically includes the costs related to freight transportation. It itemizes the charges associated with the transportation of goods, such as freight costs, shipping fees, handling charges, and any other related expenses. The freight commercial invoice provides a breakdown of the transportation costs incurred during the shipment, allowing for accurate documentation and financial record-keeping.

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