A commercial invoice is a list issued by the seller containing the name, quantity, price, and other contents of the goods. It is the main document for the buyer and seller to hand over the goods and settle the payment. It is the basis for the importing country to determine the collection of import duties, and it is also the basis for the buyer and seller to claim and settle claims. in accordance with. It is also one of the most common documents in international trade.

The most special part of the content here is the explanation of the operation combined with the letter of credit. There are more than 25 valuable Q&As, which are very helpful for you to understand the commercial invoice. When you import from overseas or you need to make a commercial invoice for your customer.


What does a commercial invoice contain:


(1)Invoice No.

Invoice No.is uniformly numbered by each company.

Invoice as the core bill, the number of other bills can be consistent with this number, such as draft number, export declaration number, and auxiliary document number are generally consistent with the invoice number.


(2) Place & Date

The billing address and date are usually linked in the upper right corner of the invoice.


  1. The issuing address should be the location of the beneficiary specified in the letter of credit, usually the location of negotiation;
  2. In the whole set of documents, the invoice is the earliest document with the date of issue. It only needs to be no earlier than the date of signing the contract and no later than the date of issuance of the bill of lading.


(3) Contract number: S/C No.

The contract number should be consistent with that listed on the letter of credit, and if a transaction involves several contracts, it should be indicated on the invoice.


(4) L/C No.

When paying by letter of credit, fill in the letter of credit number. If the L/C does not require the L/C number to be indicated on the invoice, this item can be left blank. When using other payment methods, this item is left blank.


(5), Consignee

This column is usually printed with “To”, “Sold to Messrs”, “For Account and Risk of Messrs.”, etc.


The name of the consignee, namely the buyer, shall be strictly consistent with that specified in the letter of credit. If there is no special provision in the L/C, the name and address of the applicant or consignee of the L/C should be filled in this column. If there is no applicant’s name in the letter of credit, it will be paid by money order. In short, according to the letter of credit.


For example, the applicant for the letter of credit is ABC Co.Ltd., New York, but it is stipulated that the Invoice be made out in the name of XYZ Co.Ltd., New York, the invoice header will show the latter.


(6), From…To…

The place of departure should be filled with the place name of the goods from the place of shipment (port) to the destination (port). These contents should be consistent with the relevant parts on the bill of lading. If the goods need to be transshipped, indicate the transshipment place.


Example: From Qingdao To New York. The U.S.A. W/T Shanghai


(7) Marks and Numbers

Generally consists of three parts:


(1) Abbreviation of customer name (if the customer name is not used, it can be replaced by the invoice number/contract number/order number);

(2) the port of destination;

(3) Number of pieces.


  1. If there is no mark, you can mark N/M (No mark);
  2. The mark in the invoice should be consistent with the mark on the bill of lading;
  3. If the letter of credit stipulates the mark, it can be made according to the letter of credit.


(8) Quantity and Description

The description of the goods in the invoice under the letter of credit payment method should be strictly consistent with the description of the letter of credit. In the case of collection, the description of the goods in the invoice can be filled in with reference to the provisions of the contract and the actual situation.


The description of the goods generally includes the four main terms of the contract: quantity terms, quality terms, packaging terms, and details in the contract (this is to avoid repeating the content specified in the contract).


For example 2,500 Doz Gloves, Article No. FS23, Packed in 12 Bags, as per contract No.331

1 2 3 4


Sometimes under the guidance of the guiding words about the content of the goods, other content that does not belong to this category is also included, such as terms about price, shipment, etc. When making documents, these contents should be filled in the appropriate documents and columns respectively.


The words or phrases used in the letter of credit to guide the content of the goods mainly include:

  1. Description of goods;
  2. Covering shipment of;
  3. Description of merchandise;
  4. Covering the following goods by;
  5. Covering Value of;
  6. Shipment of goods.


When filling in the quantity and description of the goods, you should pay attention to:


  1. When making an invoice, the quantity must reflect the actual shipment quantity of the goods, so that the documents are consistent. Especially when the credit limit is only given, for example: “Not Exceed 20000M/T, Minus 5% Quantity Allowance.” Under such conditions, it is necessary to indicate the actual shipment quantity.


  1. If it is stipulated in the letter of credit or required by the actual business that a batch of goods needs to be divided into several sets of documents, an invoice should be prepared for each set of documents, and the sum of the number of goods in each invoice should be equal to the total quantity of goods in the batch of goods.


  1. If the L/C allows shipment in batches and stipulates a certain range of increase or decrease, each batch of goods should be controlled according to the same range of increase or decrease.


  1. According to “Documentary Credit No. 500”: “About”, “circa”, “approximate” and other words are allowed to increase or decrease by 10%; for bulk cargo, even if there is no “about” before the number, it is also allowed to increase or decrease 5%; however, it does not apply in terms of packaging units or individuals.


  1. For transactions with more specifications, the letter of credit often stipulates: “AS PER S/C NO. . . .”


  1. When using other payment methods (such as collection), the content of the goods should be consistent with the content of the contract.


(9) Unit price

The unit price includes four parts: the currency of denomination, the unit of denomination, the amount of unit price, and trade terms. If the letter of credit has specific provisions, it should be consistent with the letter of credit. The invoice amount should be the same as the draft amount and cannot exceed the total amount of the letter of credit.


In the lower center of the commercial invoice, E&O.E. is usually printed, which means “Errors and Omissions Excepted”, which means that the maker of the invoice can correct the invoice once there is an error.





  1. The unit price of the invoice must be exactly the same as the unit price on the letter of credit;
  2. Be sure to specify the currency name and unit of measurement;
  3. Trade terms are related to the risk division and cost burden of buyers and sellers, and are also the basis for customs taxation, and should be correctly formulated.


(10)Total Amount

Unless otherwise specified in the L/C, the total value of the goods cannot exceed the L/C amount.


  1. When the actual document is made, the incoming certificate requires that the commission be deducted from the invoice, and it must be deducted. Discounts are handled in the same way as commissions. For example, if the certificate requires “From Each Invoice 8 Percent Commission Must Be Deducted” and the total amount is “USD20000.00 FOBC8 OSLO”, the calculation of the amount filled in the price column is as follows:

FOB C8 OSLO USD20000.00

—C8 1600.00

FOB OSLO USD18400.00


Sometimes there is no provision for commission deduction, but the amount is exactly the net amount after deducting the commission. The invoice should show the amount minus the commission, otherwise, the invoice amount exceeds the letter of credit.


Sometimes the contract stipulates the commission, but the amount of the incoming certificate is not deducted, and the commission is not mentioned in the certificate, so the invoice should not be displayed, and it will be remitted to the buyer after the loan is recovered.


In addition, under CFR and CIF price conditions, the commission should generally be calculated on the FOB price after deducting freight and insurance.


  1. Sometimes, the incoming certificate requires that when the transaction price is CIF, the freight and insurance costs should be listed separately, and the price of FOB should be displayed. When making a document, you can fill in the following format.


For example: TOTAL FOB VALUE $20000.00

FREIGHT $1200.00




If there are excessively demanding requirements on the letter of credit, the other party may be required to revise the terms.


(11) Statement of statement

The letter of credit requires special statements such as the name of the ship, the country of origin, and the import license number to be listed in the invoice, which must be listed in detail when making the bill. Commonly used statements are:


  1. Prove that the goods received are consistent with the goods listed in the contract or order.

Such as We certify that the goods named have been supplied in conformity with Order No. 123.


  1. Prove the country of origin.

As We hereby certify that the above-mentioned goods are of Korean Origin.


Or: This is to certify that the goods named herein are of Korean Origin.


  1. Prove that it is not loaded on or docked at restricted vessels or ports.

Such as We certify that the goods mentioned in this invoice have not been shipped on board any vessel flying the Japanese flag or due to call at any Japanese port.


  1. Prove that it is genuine.

Such as We certify that this invoice is in all respects true and correct both as regards the price and description of the goods referred herein.


  1. Prove that the relevant documents have been airmailed.

As: This is to certify that two copies of the invoice and packing list have been airmailed direct to the applicant immediately after shipment.


(12) The signature or seal of the issuer

Commercial invoices can only be issued by the beneficiary specified in the letter of credit.


Unless otherwise stipulated in the letter of credit, if the invoice is made by photocopying, computer processing, or copying, the word ORIGINAL shall be marked on the original invoice and signed by the issuer.


“UCP500” stipulates that the commercial invoice does not need to be signed, but sometimes the letter of credit stipulates that the invoice needs to be signed by hand, it cannot be covered with a rubber signature seal, and must be signed by hand. For goods exported from Mexico and Argentina, even if there is no stipulation in the letter of credit, it must be signed by hand.

The role of commercial invoice:


The role of commercial invoices has the following aspects:

  • For importers to understand and master the overall situation of the shipped goods;


  • As the basis for importer’s bookkeeping, import declaration, customs statistics, and customs declaration;


  • The exporter shall register and enter the account one by one based on the content of the invoice. Before the goods are shipped, the exporter needs to submit a commercial invoice to the customs as a customs declaration invoice, and the customs will calculate the tax and use it as one of the certificates for customs clearance and statistics;


  • In the absence of a draft, a commercial invoice can be used as a payment basis instead of a draft;


In addition, in the event of an insurance claim, the commercial invoice is used as proof of the value of the goods, etc.



Practical cases and precautions of commercial invoices:

  1. In actual business, there are often goods with multiple item numbers in one invoice, and it is required that the format is neat and tidy when making commercial invoices.


The contents and the total number of goods of each item number should be arranged in an orderly manner. The horizontal row should be the contents of each item number, and the vertical row should be the sum of the contents of each item number.


For example, the requirements for a letter of credit are as follows:

LC No. 25640254





120 PCS ART 2300/11 AT xxx USD 50.00

200 PCS ART 2351/12 AT xxx USD 62.00

100 PCS ART 5424/02 AT xxx USD 45.00

300 PCS ART 7412/05 AT xxx USD 55.00

350 PCS ART 6251/09 AT xxx USD 60.00

150 PCS ART 1546/02 AT xxx USD 45.00




The above-mentioned relevant goods include 6 goods with different item numbers, unit prices, and quantities. The mark in the invoice should be strictly consistent with the bill of lading and the consignment note. If there is no mark, fill in “N/M”.






No.: 568451FH

Date: 5/4/2005

L/C No.: 25640254

CONTRACT: 545-24







ART 2300/11 120 PCS USD 50.00 USD 6 000.00

ART 2351/12 200 PCS USD 62.00 USD 12 400.00

ART 5424/02 100 PCS USD 45.00 USD 4 500.00

ART 7412/05 300 PCS USD 55.00 USD 16 500.00

ART 6251/09 350 PCS USD 60.00 USD 21 000.00

ART 1546/02 150 PCS USD 45.00 USD 6 750.00

————————— —————–

1 220 PCS USD 67 150.00

LESS C8 USD 5 372.00

TOTAL USD 61 778.00




Commercial Invoice  Complete Q&A Guide:


1 What is the difference between a pro forma invoice and a commercial invoice?

A pro forma invoice is a document that contains preliminary data (for example, its quantity or price) about goods to be delivered in the future.

Proforma invoices are the basis for issuing final or commercial invoices.


2 Can commercial invoices be handwritten?

According to generally international rules, commercial invoices must be typed and not handwritten so that inside information cannot be confused by anyone due to illiteracy or poor handwriting.

Of course, handwriting is allowed under certain L/C terms.


3 What mandatory details should a commercial invoice contain?

The seller (supplier) must prepare a commercial invoice for exporting, which must contain the following information:


Date of issue and invoice number;

personal information about the supplier (name, address);

Details of the consignee (buyer, recipient);

Information about the contract (quantity and date of signing);

Product name, description of each type (model number, article);

Number of Units;

The price per unit of the goods;

The total cost of the goods;

HS code;

Product weight;

The currency in which the item was purchased;

The total value of the entire shipment sent;

Information about the country of origin, the country of export (if not the manufacturer);

Recipient country;

The purpose of exporting the goods;

VAT (if the tax amount is zero, it can be omitted);

Incoterms‘ terms of delivery.


4 Who generally issues commercial invoices?

It is generally issued by the supplier or the seller, and the commercial invoice is accompanied by the complete supplier’s header and company information.


5 Commercial Invoice and Tax Invoice: What’s the Difference?

A commercial invoice is a supplier’s sales order for goods that specifies the type, price, and quantity of the goods, as well as other terms of sale.

A tax invoice is a document issued by a supplier that specifies the amount charged for goods or services and the number of goods and services that are taxable.

In most countries, commercial invoices can be issued by any supplier, while tax invoices can be issued by a registered dealer, possibly a service tax provider.


6 Why do commercial invoices need to display HS CODE?

HS stands for Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. It is a list of numbers used by each country’s customs to classify goods. It is mainly used to determine the taxes and duties that must be paid.HS codes can also be named Harmonized, Tariff, or Commodity Codes.


7 How do I get and download a commercial invoice template?

You can find a lot of commercial invoice templates on google, you can refer to this page: https://opendocs.com/invoice-templates/commercial/


8 Commercial Invoice vs Packing List?

Commercial invoices and packing slips are both documents that describe transactions that change owners of certain goods and products.

However, there are still nuances: a packing list is required to describe the goods themselves, while a commercial invoice shows details about the financial transactions behind the transfer of such goods.


So, the main reason why a seller can use a packing list is to describe the goods so that the supplier can show what exactly he sent and the buyer can check that all these goods have been received in full.

Only a commercial invoice is required to show the buyer how much and when he has to pay for the desired product.

Commercial invoices contain information about the payment process, such as price and terms, such as whether payment must be made immediately or within 25 days.


9 Shipping from China to Australia, UK, US, Philippines, India, Canada, Nigeria, what is the difference in the commercial invoice for customs clearance?


It is basically the same, but the main difference is the HS CODE, and the codes of each country show some differences.

Some international and some states have special requirements for commercial invoice forms. It is best to confirm with the local customs clearance broker and fill in according to local customs requirements.


10 How to fill in the product description of the commercial invoice to speed up customs clearance?

A true and complete product description is very helpful for fast customs clearance. The product description of the commercial invoice should preferably contain name, product range, raw materials, serial number, packaging type, volumetric weight, a calculation unit, price of one unit, the amount of the goods total value, etc.


11 Do I need a commercial invoice when I use DHL or UPS to express Personal goods?

If it is a personal item or gift, no commercial invoice is required, only a pro forma invoice is required. This process does not take place in a sale or purchase transaction.


12 What is the difference between a commercial invoice and a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is not an accounting document.


13 Commercial Invoice vs Bill

A commercial invoice is sent to the customer after the goods are shipped.

Original paper invoices can be replaced by electronic invoices, bills are received from suppliers, they record expenses (or costs or inventory), and record the amount the business owes the supplier on the bill.


When it comes to the difference between a commercial invoice and a bill, it’s the fact of the shipment: a commercial invoice contains a lot of shipping information, while a bill only describes the goods and their cost.


14 Can AliExpress provide commercial invoices?

Normally Aliexpress suppliers do not provide.


15 Does Dropping shipping also need a commercial invoice for destination clearance?

Of course, you also need to ask your supplier to provide a commercial invoice for dropping shipping.


16 Why are commercial invoices presented to the customs at the port of destination with a lower amount than the actual amount during the actual customs clearance process?

The most important reason is that importers want to reduce the cost of imports, especially when you import from China to the USA, because of the Sino-US trade war, the import tariffs on products from China have increased.


Of course, sometimes it’s up to the importer to do it himself, and then have the supplier stamp it and convert it to a PDF version.

Of course, this method of reducing the amount of import declaration is very risky.


17 Is a customs invoice the same as a commercial invoice?

Usually, the commercial invoice for import customs clearance is the invoice used for customs declaration. You can understand that the commercial invoice and the customs invoice are almost the same.


18 What is the difference between a commercial invoice and other types of invoices?

Commercial invoices are designed to provide business records. Generally, the country of destination reviews this document before allowing the goods to enter the country.

Commercial invoices are quite unique compared to other popular types of invoices below:


Standard invoice

It is relatively basic and contains the invoice number and other important information about the buyer and seller.

This type of invoice also contains a detailed description of the service item, cost, payment terms, and due date.


Progress invoice

Progress invoices are often used in the construction industry and simply detail increments in the progress of a long-term project.

Essentially, it makes it easy to see how much they currently owe a supplier or service provider.


Utility invoices

An invoice is used exclusively by companies such as electricity, water, internet, and sewage.

Utility invoices record different details related to service, billing cycle, previous balances, and overdue balances.


Recurring Invoices

It refers to the type of invoices that are generated each month for the same product or service.

Recurring invoices are common in leasing or renting equipment or ongoing services.


purchase order

This document contains details similar to those contained in a commercial invoice.

However, it is the buyer who issues the purchase order and thus serves as an offer to the seller.



Timesheets are a type of invoice primarily used by independent service providers such as lawyers, tutors, consultants, etc.

In many cases, such service providers usually charge by the hour, so this type of invoice is used to track time.

Essentially, it helps determine to bill for actual payments.


19 Do commercial invoices have to show Incoterms?

Yes, these terms set out the responsibilities of buyers and sellers when it comes to different elements of the transaction.


In most cases, the terms of sale in the commercial invoice will highlight shipping costs, insurance, customs and import duties, etc.


20 Can a commercial invoice have no value/zero value?

The term zero value/no value is used only for the purpose of deriving sample items. Therefore, if the product is shipped for sample reference, the trader is not required to pay for shipping.


21 Commercial Invoice VS Packing List?

A commercial invoice is a legal statement that serves as evidence of trade transactions between importers and exporters. A packing list, by contrast, is a detailed description of what is being litigated for shipment.


22 What are Commercial Invoices and Certificates of Origin?

These documents are required to process the shipment. Commercial invoices are used to help authorities understand the terms of the transaction, and certificates of origin are used to properly test and draft import duties on goods.


23 What are the most basic import customs clearance documents?

Bill of lading

commercial invoice

Packing List

Certificate of Origin


24 Which modes of transport do import customs clearance require a commercial invoice?

By Sea freight, air freight, railway all require commercial invoices for customs declaration.


25 If the imported goods are from many suppliers with different commercial invoices, who provides the final commercial invoice for customs clearance?

The goods in consol are very common, such as LCL and FCL imported from Asia or China. The same importer has purchased goods from different suppliers, but the import customs clearance only needs to be done once.


At this time, the importer’s forwarder is usually responsible for consolidating all the goods. The supplier’s commercial invoice into a commercial invoice. If you have any questions, you can consult Bestforworld carefully and more about the shipment and customs clearance of consolidation imports