What is a Commercial Invoice?


Import / Customs



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Commercial Invoice

What is a Commercial Invoice?

Primarily used in international trade, a Commercial Invoice is a document between the seller and the buyer that describes the sold goods, and the amount that the customer must pay. This is one of the main documents used by Customs authorities when they determine duties and taxes. 

What is a Commercial Invoice used for? 

A Commercial Invoice is used by Customs to calculate duties, tariffs, and taxes. Since countries like the United States do not impose a duty on transportation costs, it is important that the Commercial Invoice shows a breakdown of transportation charges or other services for which a buyer pays a seller. 

What is included in a Commercial Invoice? 

There is no actual format in which you should submit your Commercial Invoice, however, this is the required information that needs to be indicated on a commercial invoice: 

Transaction Information 

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice data
  • Order number
  • Sale total
  • Currency
  • Instructions of payment


Exporter and Importer Information

  • Exporter/Seller's name address, phone number
  • Exporter/Seller’s tax ID number (VAT, EORI)
  • Importer/ Buyer’s name, address, phone number
  • Importer/ Buyer’s tax ID number (VAT, EORI)
  • Notify party’s information


Shipping Information

  • Bill of Lading number
  • Forwarding agent
  • Harmonized System (HS) code
  • Description of goods (number of packages, units, weight)
  • Incoterms
  • Origin of goods
  • Insurance
  • Exportation date, mode of transport, and final destination
  • Shipper’s signature

What Incoterms are applicable to my Commercial Invoice?

The Commercial Invoice should also always clarify the trade terms or incoterms that apply to the sale of goods. Some of the common Incoterms are as follows: 

EXW - Otherwise known as “ex-works,” EXW is an international trade term, describing when a seller makes a product available at a designated location, and the buyer of the product must cover the transport costs. 

FOB - “Free on Board” is a term used to indicate who (the seller or the buyer) is liable for goods that are damaged or destroyed during the shipping process. 

CIF - “Cost, Insurance, Freight” is a term used to describe an expense paid by a seller to cover costs, insurance, and freight in the case of a loss or damage to the buyer’s order during transit. 

Are there any specific requirements on Commercial Invoices? 

Many Middle Eastern countries have specific requirements for commercial documents and invoices. They often require documents to be notarized, authenticated by the origin state, stamped by the Chamber of Commerce, and legalized by the destination country’s consulates.



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