Customs clearance

The correct documentation can make a difference.

Learn the basics for timely clearance

The most commonly required forms for sending an international shipment include the Commercial Invoice and the Certificate of Origin. The details of your shipment will determine which documents or any other information is required. It is important to have the correct and complete documentation in order to avoid delays.


Use this guide and template to help you complete a Commercial Invoice. Please note this template is a suggested format only and provided for customer guidance purposes. Proper completion of all necessary documentation is the responsibility of the consignor.

The essentials of the Commercial Invoice

What's in your shipment?

Description of goods

This provides a clear and accurate description of the contents of your shipment. The description should be as precise as possible. If the description is highly technical a brief description of what it is, what it’s made of, and what it’s used for will help customs determine the correct classification.


Harmonized Tariff Codes

The International Harmonized System (HS Codes) is a multipurpose international product nomenclature that classifies goods. This is used by customs authorities to determine which duties, taxes and controls may apply to the goods. The codes are optional, but including a code can help speed customs clearance.

Provide a Value

Even if the shipment being sent is a sample or gift, it still has a value of at least the production cost. This value should be as accurate as possible along with the currency code you are using. If the customs authorities question your value, it could cause delays or fines.

Country of origin

This describes where the commodities being shipped are manufactured. This can sometimes be different than where the commodities are shipped from and in some cases a record of where it was manufactured in the form of a Certificate of Origin might be required. Whether a Certificate of Origin is required depends on the commodity and destination country.

If there are multiple commodities with different countries of manufacturer, include each country of manufacture next to each commodity description.

Choose the right Terms of Trade

The Terms of Sale also known as Incoterms® are required on every Commercial Invoice. Incoterms® are a series of pre-defined globally recognized standards established by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). They are widely used in international transactions to let customs authorities identify the owner of the shipment at every step of its journey.

You need to choose one of the Incoterms® that applies to your shipment. For example, DAP - Delivered at Place (formerly known as DDU Delivered Duty Unpaid) means that the consignor (sender) pays for the shipping, but the consignee (recipient) is responsible for any duties and taxes.

To learn more about Incoterms®, please visit: Incoterms® 2010

Get through customs smoothly

With the above guidelines you now know the required information to fill out in a Commercial Invoice. You can use your own invoice or you can use the Commercial Invoice template.