One question that often comes up in supply chain operations is: “What is the invoice format required by Customs?”

The Customs invoice is an important document used in any supply chain. Customs does not dictate a specific invoice format be used, however in many cases they do require invoices to contain mandatory information. These requirements can vary from country to country and in some cases, Customs authorities may have no specific requirements at all.

However, it is recommended for traders to think from the perspective of Customs declarants. If the invoice has all the information necessary for the Customs agent to make an entry into the Customs system, that would be ideal. If the invoice has insufficient information, the declarant would need to refer to different documents at the time of making the declaration. This increases the chances for errors to occur.

What are the best data elements to include in a Customs invoice?

  1. Shipper information
  2. Consignee information including any business registration information
  3. Place of delivery
  4. Port of origin information
  5. Port of destination information
  6. Incoterms used for the transaction
  7. CIF /FOB/EXW value of the invoice depending on the basis of valuation of the importing country’s Customs authorities
  8. Country of origin information
  9. Clear product description matching the physical product shipping carton description
  10. Quantity with clear indication of the Unit of Measure
  11. HS Classification of the origin
  12. Date of the invoice
  13. Payment terms
  14. Unit of Measure reporting information required by the specific HS code used
  15. Statements as necessary such as “For Customs clearance purposes only”
  16. Shipping mode
  17. Export control declaration statement (If necessary)

With the above data elements, the Customs agent will be able to make the import lodgement to Customs easily. Customs will also be able to quickly do any necessary documentary audits for the shipment, reducing the probability of the shipment getting flagged for a manual assessment or physical inspection.

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