By Megon VenterTue. 19 Dec. 20233min Read

How to Fill in a Commercial Invoice Template

Master the art of international trade with our comprehensive guide on how to fill in a commercial invoice template.
How to Fill in a Commercial Invoice Template

In the bustling world of international trade, the commercial invoice is more than just a bill for goods sold; it's a pivotal document in global business transactions.

This blog post aims to demystify the process of completing a commercial invoice template, ensuring your business dealings run smoothly and efficiently.

Theodore Cipolla
B2B SaaS Content Writer
Theodore is a B2B SaaS Content Marketer with over ten years of experience. He is passionate about helping professionals appreciate the value of tools quickly.

What is a Commercial Invoice?

Navigating the intricacies of international trade begins with a fundamental understanding of one of its core documents: the commercial invoice.


This isn't just any invoice; it's a crucial tool in global commerce, serving as a detailed record of the transaction between buyer and seller across international borders.

Understanding a Commercial Invoice 

A commercial invoice is a legal document used in international trade. It provides information about the goods being shipped, their value, and other critical details necessary for customs clearance and determining duties and taxes.

Key Elements of a Commercial Invoice

  • Seller and Buyer Information: Includes names, addresses, and contact details.
  • Description of Goods: Detailed descriptions of each item being shipped.
  • Value of Goods: The price or cost of the goods in the agreed currency.
  • Harmonized System (HS) Codes: International nomenclature for the classification of products.
  • Country of Origin: Where the goods were manufactured or produced.

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How to Fill in a Commercial Invoice Template

Mastering the art of correctly filling in a commercial invoice template is a crucial skill for any business engaged in international trade.


This section is designed as a step-by-step guide to walk you through this process.

From the initial selection of an appropriate template to the final touches that ensure your invoice is compliant and clear, we will cover each aspect in detail:

  1. Download a Template: Start by downloading a reliable commercial invoice template. This can be a generic template or one specific to your industry.

  2. Fill in Seller and Buyer Information: Enter the full legal names, addresses, and contact details of both the seller and the buyer.

  3. Describe the Goods: Provide a clear and accurate description of each item, including quantities and unit prices.

  4. Add HS Codes and Country of Origin: This is crucial for customs. Ensure you have the correct HS codes and clearly state the country of origin for each item.

  5. Calculate the Total Value: Sum up the total value of the shipment, including any additional charges like shipping or insurance.

  6. Include Payment and Delivery Terms: Terms like FOB (Free On Board) or CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) should be clearly mentioned.

  7. Sign and Date the Invoice: A signature (physical or digital) is necessary to validate the document.

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Using an Invoice PDF Template

PDF Reader Pro offers a streamlined solution for handling commercial invoices.

Our Invoice PDF Template simplifies the process of creating, filling out, and managing invoices.

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Features of PDF Reader Pro's Template

  • Ease of Use: The intuitive interface makes it easy to input information.
  • Customization: Ability to tailor the invoice to your specific needs.
  • Digital Efficiency: Fill, sign, and send the invoice electronically, ensuring faster processing and environmental friendliness.

How to Fill in a Commercial Invoice Template: Best Practices

Filling out a commercial invoice requires meticulous attention to detail and an understanding of international trade requirements.



Here are best practices to consider when completing a commercial invoice template, ensuring compliance with customs authorities and a smooth shipping process.

1. Understand the Purpose of Commercial Invoices

Commercial invoices are essential for international trade, serving as a declaration for customs authorities. They differ from standard invoices, such as sales invoices, in that they are used for calculating import duties and ensuring compliance with export and import regulations.

2. Select the Right Commercial Invoice Template

Choose a commercial invoice template that aligns with the nature of your transaction. While a proforma invoice might be used for pre-sale negotiations, a commercial invoice form is required for the actual shipment. Templates vary, so select one that includes all necessary fields.

3. Accurately State the Country of Origin

Clearly indicate the country of origin for each item. This is crucial for customs clearance as it affects import duties and compliance with trade agreements. Misrepresenting the country of origin can lead to penalties.

4. Provide Complete Description of Goods

Include a complete and detailed description of the goods being shipped. This should cover physical characteristics, what the goods are used for, and any other information that helps customs authorities assess the goods correctly.

5. List All Relevant Financial Details

Ensure you include the purchase price, freight charges, and any other associated costs. This transparency is essential for calculating duty charges and taxes. Be aware of the different tax rates that might apply to your goods.

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6. Include Shipment and Contact Details

Provide comprehensive shipment details, including shipping weight, postal code of the destination, and any specific shipping instructions. Accurate contact details of both the sender and the receiver are crucial for any necessary communications.

7. Understand Customs and Export Documentation

Apart from the commercial invoice, understand if your shipment requires additional documents, such as an export license or specific shipping invoices. These documents facilitate customs clearance and ensure compliance with international shipping regulations.

8. Clarify Payment Terms and Freight Charges

Clearly outline the payment terms, such as if the buyer or seller is responsible for duty charges and freight charges. This prevents misunderstandings and delays in customs.

9. Ensure Accuracy for Customs Clearance

Double-check all information for accuracy. Errors or omissions can lead to delays in customs clearance, additional costs, or even penalties.

10. Keep Updated on International Trade Policies

As a business owner or responsible party, stay informed about changes in international trade policies, especially concerning import duties, customs regulations, and documentation requirements.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your commercial invoices are not only accurate but also compliant with international trade regulations, facilitating a smoother transaction for all parties involved.

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How to Fill in a Commercial Invoice Template: FAQ

How Do I Ensure the Security of Contents in a Commercial Invoice?

When filling out a commercial invoice, ensuring the security of contents is paramount. This means providing detailed, accurate descriptions of the items being shipped, along with their values. This information helps customs authorities verify the contents and prevents any potential security issues during transportation.

Can I Use Printable Templates for Commercial Invoices?

Yes, printable templates are a practical option for creating commercial invoices. These templates provide a standard format that can be easily filled out and printed. This is especially useful for businesses without access to commercial invoice generator software.

How Does Import Tax Affect a Commercial Invoice?

Import tax directly impacts the information you provide on a commercial invoice. The declared value of goods, their classification, and country of origin are used to calculate the import tax. It's essential to accurately report these details to ensure correct tax assessment.

What Should Be Included in a Commercial Invoice for an International Shipment?

For an international shipment, a commercial invoice should include detailed descriptions of the goods, their value, the seller and buyer’s information, terms of sale (billing terms), and shipping details. This ensures smooth processing through customs.

How Are Billing Terms Represented in a Commercial Invoice?

Billing terms in a commercial invoice specify the payment agreement between the buyer and seller. This includes payment due dates, methods (like letter of credit), and any advance payment requirements. Clearly stating these terms is crucial for financial clarity.

What Is the Role of a Letter of Credit in Commercial Invoices?

A letter of credit is a financial instrument used in international trade to ensure that payment will be received. In commercial invoices, it serves as a guarantee to the seller that the buyer’s bank will pay the invoice amount upon fulfillment of the shipment terms.

Are There Differences Between Tax Invoices and Commercial Invoices in International Trade?

Yes, in international trade, a tax invoice is typically used for domestic transactions and includes specific details related to sales tax. In contrast, a commercial invoice is used for international shipments and focuses on customs and import duties.

How Can I Create a Commercial Invoice? Are There Online Tools?

You can create a commercial invoice using online tools like commercial invoice generators or makers. These tools offer editable invoice templates and simplify the invoice creation process, allowing you to generate high-quality, custom-made commercial invoices efficiently.

Is There a Standard Format for Commercial Invoices Like DHL and FedEx?

Yes, shipping companies like DHL and FedEx provide specific commercial invoice formats tailored to their processes. These invoices meet all requirements for shipping and customs purposes and can be found on the companies' websites.

How Can I Find Examples of Commercial Invoices for Reference?

You can find commercial invoice examples online, which are helpful for understanding the commercial invoice process and requirements. These examples can serve as a guide to ensure you include all necessary information in your own invoices.

These frequently asked questions cover various aspects of the commercial invoice process, from creation to specifics concerning international shipping and customs requirements.

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