Whenever a company in the U.S. purchases products from a supplier outside of the U.S. the sale should be documented in a commercial invoice. The commercial invoice is the key document used by U.S. Customs to determine whether a shipment may enter the U.S. and to make certain that the duty paid by the importer is correct. While the format of commercial invoices vary greatly, the content in the commercial invoice should contain the proper information for U.S. Customs' use.
The commercial invoice at a bare minimum must contain the following information:
- The full name and address of the supplier
- The full name and address of the U.S. consignee or buyer
- A full description of the imported product or products
- The quantity of product imported (usually reported in pieces)
- The country of origin or manufacture for the product or products
It is important to note that this is the minimum information required and that for some types of products more detailed information or additional documentation may be required. Importers are advised to always check with an expert (Customs Broker, trade consultant or Customs attorney) to make certain that they have all the information and documentation they will need to import their products before they send their first shipment to the U.S. Missing information or documentation can result in delays and significant added costs and some goods may be refused entry into the U.S. Exercise due diligence before you ship your first order.
The Customs Broker working with the importer must properly classify the imported products according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). The detail provided on the commercial invoice is critical to allow the broker to provide the correct HTS number. The HTS classification of an imported product is a critical step, and the failure to properly classify the item can lead to costly delays or even Customs' penalties.
You can find more information about the commercial invoice requirements in the Customs' publication "Importing Into the United States; A Guide for Commercial Importers." You can download the PDF edition of this publication HERE.
The Association For Trade Compliance (AFTC) offers a growing number of training webinars to our members that importers will find very useful in keeping their company up to date and in compliance. The normal annual fee for AFTC membership is just $395 USD but join now and use discount code COMMERCIALINVOICE to save $100 off your first year's membership. Simply go to our webpage to join by clicking HERE.
For more information or if you have specific questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.