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Cracking the Code: A Guide To Navigating The Correct Format For Customs Invoices

If you are involved in importing or exporting goods, you likely understand the importance of customs invoices. These documents are a crucial part of the process, as they provide the necessary information for customs officials to assess and verify the goods being transported. However, obtaining the correct document format can often be a daunting task.

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Every country has its own set of regulations and requirements when it comes to customs invoices. From the specific details that need to be included to the preferred template to use, it can be challenging to navigate through the various guidelines. Nevertheless, getting your customs invoice right is paramount to ensuring a smooth customs clearance process. By understanding the right format for your customs invoice, you can navigate customs clearance with ease. 

The Right Customs Invoice Format 

Getting the right customs invoice form really depends on where you are importing to. A customs invoice format would mainly vary based on the country goods are heading to. It is also important not to get a customs invoice confused with a pro forma invoice, which is a preliminary estimate of the related charges and is used for pre-shipment. Usually all customs invoices will contain some primary information such as type of goods, delivery addresses, description of goods, any tax information, duties, weight and value of goods. The invoice needs to contain enough information for customs to be able to determine admissibility and assess for duties and taxes on the shipment.

Different countries will have a format that is unique to them, in order for the invoice to contain enough information for assessment. When importing to Canada, you will need to follow the template of a Canada Customs Invoice (CCI), as it contains enough detail for customs and more information than the standard commercial invoice. If you are importing to the United States, you would use a US Customs Invoice which is quite similar, but contains information to meet CBP regulation. 

The format of a customs invoice can vary based on country requirements, contractual agreements between parties involved and any trade conventions in place. There should be one invoice for each shipment that is being sent as well. However, some of the essential pieces of information that all customs invoices likely contain include:

  • Seller and Buyer Information (address, contact details)
  • Invoice Number
  • Date
  • Detailed Description of Goods
  • Terms of Delivery or Incoterms
  • Payment Terms
  • Country of Origin
  • HS Codes/Tariff Code
  • Quantity
  • Weight
  • Unit Price
  • Declared Value
  • Shipping Information/Number
  • Any Applicable Trade Agreements In Place
  • Port of Origin and Destination
  • Conversion Rates
  • Insurance
  • Signatures

Need help with your customs invoices? 

When you use Zipments, our modernized technology-based platform that makes completing customs invoices a breeze! With Zipments, you'll receive step-by-step form field prompts, including the right format for your customs invoice, streamlining the approval process. 

Our digital customs invoice forms are designed with all the necessary form fields, so you simply need to fill out the form prompts, and click submit once you are done. No more hassle or confusion.

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Whether you are shipping to Canada or the United States, each customs invoice template will be suitable for CBP and CBSA approval. It is completely free, you can complete the invoices fast and send to broker or carrier easily. 

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You may often hear commercial and customs invoice used interchangeably. These are pretty much the same document, with small differences in their use. A customs invoice is the approximate bill of sale for high value orders and are required for goods to clear customs. Commercial invoices are often used by smaller merchants and these documents are used because the seller has received payment on the commodity already. When shipping internationally you will need your customs invoice, in order to complete customs clearance successfully.

Do All International Shipments Need a Customs Invoice?

Any time you are exporting or importing commercial goods, you should have a customs invoice or commercial invoice as part of the documentation. Even if you are using a courier service like FedEx, DHL, or UPS, you will still need to have your commercial or customs invoice documentation. Any international shipments with commercial value are required to have an invoice accompany them, in order to clear customs. The invoices also provide additional information to customers, allow for a more organized sales/shipping process, and help with any insurance claims that may occur.

Find The Right Customs Invoice Template

Usually countries you may be importing to will have a customs invoice template on the government website or as part of the required forms. This allows for an easy follow of the specific template. However, in some cases you may not find the template and need to find your own online. Up until now, you could’ve also found customs invoice forms on courier websites, but with technology finding the right customs invoice template is easy.

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Zipments is a technological platform which has simplified customs clearance and allowed for easier ways to generate your customs documents. If you need a Canada Customs Invoice (CCI) or US Customs Invoice form template, you can easily complete your invoice online within minutes, through the platform. It is completely free, and AI technology automatically detects the HS code or tariff for you, so that you avoid hours of research and potential errors.

✔️AI Technology Detects Your Tariff or HS Code Automatically

✔️Send Between Parties Involved Via Streamlined Communication

✔️Store Data In Your Personal Library 

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Customs brokers have been well versed in helping importers and exporters compile documentation and fill out the documents, but there has always been room for error. To save time and money, you can complete your customs invoices online with Zipments, and share your documentation with your customs broker or carrier, for easier navigation. 

Though each country has its own regulations and rules, you can always ensure customs compliance when you leverage technology to work in your favor. Exporting or importing goods internationally requires a lot of planning and documentation, which can be a daunting task. You will need a customs invoice that is suitable for the country you are sending goods into, in order to clear customs with ease. However, when you are equipped with the right technology to generate your customs forms, you can ensure ease and efficiency in your clearance process.