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Commercial Invoices for Shipping Freight

International freight shipments require a Commercial Invoice to be included with the freight. A Commerical Invoice is a legal document of an international (purchase) transaction issued to the buyer (the importer) from the seller (the exporter). It serves as a contract and a proof-of-sale between the parties. It’s basically a sales receipt.

Customs require both the Commerical Receipt and Bill of Lading (BOL) before a shipment can be allowed in the country. The BOL is simply a “contract of carriage” that shows what is being carried where, and for whom. It’s a receipt signed by the carrier confirming that the goods they’ve received and boarded match the contract description, and are received in good condition. Both the BOL and the Commerical Invoice are required and matched against each other during customs clearance.

Why Are Commercial Invoices Required For Shipping Freight?

The Commercial Invoice helps customs match up commercial clearance paperwork to ensure a complete declaration for all of the goods aboard the truck. Customs uses the commercial invoice to determine what tarrifs are due on the product for shipment into the country. Tariffs are taxes applied to goods imported from a different country. The purpose of tariffs is to protect domestic industries and (of course) raise income for the government.

Commercial Invoices are the document most foreign countries use for international freight transporting, and serves as the benchmark for all other documents and your shipment.

Filling Out Commercial Invoices

Commercial invoices must be completed in English. If you ship from the USA, always provide buyers with an invoice for transportation from the U.S. It must have the following information:

  • Port of entry
  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date
  • Order number
  • Total sale amount (In USD)
  • Currency (From country shipping to the US)
  • Payment instructions
  • Exporter/seller information
  • Exporter/seller’s tax identification number
  • Importer/buyer information
  • Importer/buyer’s tax identification number
  • Notify the party’s information

Your invoice will always be viewed with your bill of lading. Is there missing information in your invoice? If it is in your bill of lading, It can still pass through customs.

Adding the Commercial Invoices To Your Shipment

Normally you need to add three copies of the invoice. One for the country you are exporting from, to, and one for the receiver. Two of them should go in a packing list envelope on the outside of the package. The last commercial invoice goes inside the package for the recipient.

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Who Pays Tariffs (Taxes) At the Border?

Taxes at the border almost always accept payment from the receiving party and never by the exporting country. Businesses will charge higher after-tax costs to consumers. Prices on items can change due to tax prices and of course, inflation. For example, the price of items sold in the US may rise or lower quickly versus the country that builds them. Firms will face competition from companies that sell the same product. In most cases, it is made in a different country that is not subject to the import tax.

How To Calculate Taxes

The rate of taxes you will have to pay depends on the item(s) you want to ship. Also, taxing refers to the country you want to send to. Presently, the shipping duty tax rate is between 5 to 9 percent. All countries have different shipping tax rates. Fortunately, if you don’t know the country’s tax rate, you can find this information with your shipping company. Also, you can check with the customs department in the country where you want to ship the item to.

Working with a Customs Broker

Filling out invoices can be a tough process, which is why many businesses choose to work with customs brokers. Customs brokers are approved by the government and know the regulations around international shipping. Altogether, they help businesses complete the required paperwork, estimate import taxes, and track their load throughout its process. In addition, customs brokers work well with shipping companies. With that, having a strong relationship between the two can help guarantee delivery is on time and safe. As a result, working with a customs broker can save businesses both time and money. You can find brokers through the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America as well.

Additionally, a customs broker will advise on how to package your cargo from your country to theirs. They make sure that your cargo meets all transport needs. Whether your freight is a pallet or a whole unit, using a customs broker helps ensure a hassle-free experience.

FreightCenter is Here For You

Are you having trouble sending your freight internationally, need assistance completing your commercial invoice, or have any questions? Let FreightCenter help! FreightCenter streamlines freight shipping by working with many top-rated international shipping carriers. FreightCenter can plan, coordinate, and execute your worldwide and cross-border international shipping needs including air freight and ocean freight shipping. Also, we assist you with the paperwork for shipping or receiving overseas.

We are experts when it comes to shipping products both nationally and internationally. Our freight agents can ease you into the process to ensure it’s a smooth ride for both you and your shipment. Use FreightCenter’s free online freight quote tool to begin. For other locations, call our international shipping experts at 844-2127447.

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