The commercial invoice is one of the most important documents in international trade and ocean freight shipping. It is a legal document issued by the seller (exporter) to the buyer (importer) in an international transaction and serves as a contract and a proof of sale between the buyer and seller.
It’s required by the official authorities in the destination country and it is used by customs to determine duties and tax owed.
Unlike the Bill of Lading, the commercial invoice does not indicate the ownership of goods nor does it carry a title to the goods being sold. It is, however, required for customs clearance purposes to calculate and assess the duties and taxes due.
The commercial invoice details the price(s), value, and quantity of the goods being sold. It should also include the trade or sale conditions agreed upon by both buyer and seller of the transaction being carried out.
It may also be required for payment purposes (such as in the event of payment via Letter of Credit and may need to be produced by the buyer to its bank to instruct the release of funds to the seller for payment.
Which is the best commercial invoice template?
There are plenty of commercial invoice templates and samples to choose from online. While there is no fixed commercial invoice format, most of the information required is very similar and standardized across all templates.
Whichever template you choose, ensure that the following details are included:
Information related to the transaction
- Invoice number
- Invoice date
- Order number
- Total sale amount
- Payment instructions
Information related to the exporter and importer
- Exporter/seller information (name, address, phone number, etc.)
- Exporter/seller’s tax identification number (eg. VAT, EORI, etc.)
- Importer/buyer information (name, address, phone number, etc.)
- Importer/buyer’s tax identification number (eg. VAT, EORI, etc.)
- Notify party’s information
Information related to the shipping of the merchandise
- Bill of Lading number
- Forwarding agent
- HS code
- Clear description of goods (no. of packages, units, weight, etc.)
- Incoterm under which the merchandise has been sold
- Origin of merchandise
- Date of exportation, means of transport, and final destination
- Shipper’s signature
How can you legalize the Commercial Invoice?
You must get the document notarized before a commissioned notary public in your local state.
Now, there two forms of authentication in order to be able to use commercial invoice certificate in abroad countries.
Apostille which is a unified form of authentication across all participant countries in the Hague Convention “Apostille treaty”.
Check out the list of countries that participate in the Hague Convention and accepts the apostille stamp.
How to apostille Commercial Invoice
As we mentioned above, you must obtain a fully notarial statement along with your document.
· Ensure that the notarial statement is written in English.
· Most Secretary of State only authenticate documents that have been issued and notarized within the same state.
Then, forward your document to the Secretary of State to apostille your commercial invoice.
Processing time and fee required to obtain the apostille attestation on commercial invoice differ depending upon each secretary of State.
Bear in mind, you may have the apostille take a little bit longer than expect due to the current COVID-19 situation.
On the other hand, countries that don’t participate in the Hague Convention require other form of authentication which is called “embassy legalization”
How to obtain embassy legalization for Commercial Invoice?
1. Obtain a full notarial statement along with your document.
2. Get the Secretary of State authentication.
3. Obtain U.S. Department of State authentication.
4. Embassy legalization.
These are the general requirements; however, you face some differences depending on the embassy where you should get legalization from.
Are there extra steps if you’re exporting your products to an Arab country?
Yes. You must obtain the US Arab Chamber of Commerce stamp affixed on document. USACC is to provide certification of shipping documents for U.S. businesses exporting goods to the Middle East.
The US Arab Chamber of Commerce is officially recognized by “The Arab League” to affix the chamber stamp.
Products shipped to Arab countries without the official stamp of the U.S.
Arab Chambers may be held in customs until it is affixed.
Also, most service/agency contracts require the USACC stamp in order to be registered at Arab chambers overseas.
One Day Apostille provides expedited apostille and embassy legalization service and also we may assist you to affix the US Arab Chamber of Commerce stamp, if you‘re shipping your good to the Arab world.
We receive your requests by mail on the following address:
1615 Bay Head Rd. Annapolis MD 21409
Please, if you have any additional concerns contact us.