A blog by the TransportCloud team. We write about shipping, E-Commerce, international business, and customs.
The commercial invoice is one of the most critical documents in the export process. Due to this, it is crucial to fill the document accurately. Also, errors in the commercial invoice could lead to the seizure of your goods or unnecessary clearance delays. This article will discuss the top mistakes to avoid while filling the commercial invoice and what to do when there are errors in your invoice.
Customs Authorities use details like VAT number, EORI number, and total value to process shipments and clear goods. Thus, these fields are mandatory. Leaving these required fields blank may result in fines or even the seizure of goods.
One of the critical tips for filling the commercial invoice is to ensure to give complete and concise answers. All traders must fill in the reason for their export in the commercial invoice. In this case, it is advisable to provide straightforward answers like "trade" or "gift," depending on your motive for exporting. Giving vague answers could make you incur additional expenses, as the Customs Authority could flag invoices that do not adequately specify export reasons.
Figures are vital to the commercial invoice. Exporters have to provide their EORI number and VAT number. Because these details involve multiple digits, you can easily switch one number for the other. These little mistakes could drastically compromise your shipment.
As an exporter, it is advisable to be sure of the exact value of your shipment before filling it in the commercial invoice. Filling a wrong value or currency could result in the importer overpaying import duties at the point of entry. More so, Customs Authorities may require you to provide payment evidence if the value stated in the commercial invoice seems suspicious.
All countries use the HS code to classify goods and determine duty rates. If you incorrectly classify your goods in the commercial invoice, the Customs Authority may find it difficult to clear your goods. This situation will undoubtedly delay your goods.
Ensure that all details you fill in your commercial invoice are compatible with the details in other documents. Detail mismatches can render your documents inadmissible at the port.
You have to fill in the contact information of both the exporter and consignee in the commercial invoice. Making a mistake by filling in the wrong contact information could hinder the importation process. This is because the Customs Authority regularly contacts consignees to fill vital import documents in countries like the United Kingdom. Wrong contact information will render it impossible for the Authority to make these communications.
While it may be tempting to merely describe your goods as "shirts" or "toys "without providing more information, it is a huge mistake. The description field in the commercial invoice requires you to provide an in-depth description of your goods. For example, if you intend to export blouses, you must specify whether the blouse is cotton or silk. This information is vital because countries often classify goods according to their components.
It is essential to distinguish between total net weight and total gross weight. Total gross weight is the total weight of the goods in addition to the weight of the packaging. However, the total net weight is the weight without the packaging. Filling one weight for the other could lead to unnecessary errors in your commercial invoice.
Incoterms are important because they help Customs Authorities determine what party will bear the payment and shipping risks during the shipping process. Thus, you must agree on the incoterms with your customer before adding them to the invoice. Filling incorrect terms may put you at risk of bearing obligations meant for the other party.
While exporters must exercise caution while filling the commercial invoice, there are still situations where you might make mistakes. In cases like this, it is advisable to issue a new invoice. However, if this is not possible, you can contact the importer and inform them of the errors so they can seek resolution at the Customs Authority.