Export Commercial Invoice

An export commercial invoice is a strange term because by definition all commercial invoices relate to foreign trade. Legally, you need to have a commercial invoice every time you want to export goods from one country to another.

Unlike a domestic invoice, invoices that are used for goods bought and sold in the person's own country, an export commercial invoice is a lot more than a bill of sale. Simply put, an export commercial invoice is a customs document that is a vital aspect of international trade. You cannot take part in foreign trade without a commercial invoice as your goods will be turned away from the country they are destined for.

Domestic invoices & Export invoices

Another major difference between a domestic invoice and an export commercial invoice is that the latter has to contain certain specific information. Besides the price of the goods, the name of the exporter and the name of the shipping company, you have to specify the type of goods and the country in which they were manufactured. A commercial invoice is a customs document and acts as a declaration to foreign customs' officials regarding your goods. There are rules that guide international and foreign trade and as part of this the World Customs Organisation has devised specific sets of digits that apply to particular products and that must be listed on any commercial invoice.

Regulations and requirements of an Export invoice

When you ship goods abroad you will need two copies of your export commercial invoice, one copy of the invoice has to be shipped with the goods, without it your goods will not be allowed into a foreign country. The second copy of your export commercial invoice will need to be attached to the Bill of Lading, which is the document stating that goods are to be loaded for shipment. You should take care when entering the information on a commercial invoice, particularly the numbers as set out by the WCO as customs officers use this number to calculate the tariff or duty that needs to be paid on any goods imported into a country.

An export commercial invoice has to be signed and witnessed to show that the correct information is on that invoice. The way in which commercial invoices are dealt with and the reason they are so important is the responsibility of the World Trade Organisation, which regulates trade between one country and another. After the Second World War, western countries in particular, wanted to engage in free trade with other nations. However, most governments want to protect their people from the devaluing of their home grown products because of a huge influx of foreign goods.

The World Trade Organisation allows foreign trade to take place, but with a clear set of guidelines to ensure that some countries do not export to the detriment of the place to which they are shipping goods. The export commercial invoice is a vital part of foreign trade agreements; it is an internationally recognised document, without which nobody could engage in trade with other countries.