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What is a Commercial Invoice?

A commercial invoice is a legal document between a buyer and a seller specifying the goods being traded and their commercial value.

A commercial invoice is a necessary document used in international trade. You can consider it a biography of your shipping load. It contains all information pertaining to the shipping contents, including the following:

  • transaction information
  • buyer/importer and seller/exporter information
  • shipping information
  • merchandise details including value and HS codes.

A commercial invoice has no specified format, it only needs to be filled out in accordance with Section 141.86 through 141.89 of the CBP Regulations. There are many example templates available to the public on the internet, CIF and Lynden both provide great invoice templates.

How Your Commercial Invoice Fits into Your Import Process

A commercial invoice is one of the primary documents used when CBP is determining Customs duties and taxes, as well as inspection of goods. Because it contains all pertinent information related to the shipping contents it is required for U.S. Customs clearance. Since this documentation is used to determine duties and taxes, false information may lead to an importer paying less. If information is found to be inaccurate, it could lead to customs hold-ups and claims on your Customs bond such as supplemental duty bills or liquidated damages.

Relationship Between a Commercial Invoice and an Entry Summary

A commercial invoice has a close relationship with the entry summary needed for Customs clearance. Also known as CBP form 7501, an entry summary is used by CBP to find relevant information and determine a duty rate regarding an imported commodity. Basically, an invoice is used as evidence to back up classifications and appraisement located in an entry summary.

A commercial invoice is a simple document to produce. But, it is very important when entering goods through customs and determining the amount of duties and fees to pay. In order to be in compliance with Customs and Border Protection, it is key to correctly create an invoice with accurate information.

Get access to TRG's full library of free resources for U.S. Importers in the Resource Hub.

commercial invoiceEntry SummaryImporting in the United States

Chase Samuels • June 11, 2019


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