Customs invoice – What is it, definition and concept

The customs invoice is a type of invoice issued exclusively for merchandise subject to foreign trade.

Over time, there has been a process of globalization that has facilitated the exchange of goods and services between individuals or legal entities from different countries. Likewise, the countries carry out through customs a control over the merchandise that enters their territory.

This control focuses on identifying goods that are prohibited from being sold and the collection of taxes on those permitted goods that are intended to be introduced into the country.

For this reason, some countries require the presentation of this document to allow the importation of goods.

Characteristics of customs invoices

Despite what its name indicates, the issuance of this invoice corresponds to the exporter. This document helps determine the customs value of the goods for the calculation of taxes and duties. Some of the data it may contain are the following:

  • Data of the exporter and importer.
  • Description of the merchandise (quantity, unit price, details).
  • Total value of the shipment.
  • Export motivation.
  • Exporting country.
  • Destination country.
  • Import duties and taxes.

Likewise, this invoice can directly indicate the amount that the importer must pay to the customs of his country. In addition, it travels with the cargo to be able to go through the different legal obstacles. The presentation of this document serves for computer purposes and statistical control of foreign trade.

What is the customs invoice used for?

Although some countries use them to facilitate the calculation of taxes and tariffs, others use this type of documentation as a non-tariff barrier. That is, as another verification step. For example, they require it to import a specific good, when there are limits on the value of the shipment or exceptions to banned merchandise.

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It also serves as a substitute for the commercial invoice for companies that handle large volumes. In this case, it allows standardizing and streamlining these operations. In conclusion, it depends on each country whether to use it as a method of speeding up or hindering cross-border trade.

Difference between commercial invoice and customs invoice

Despite having practically the same information, the customs invoice is used exclusively by exporters and importers. Therefore, it is mainly a resource for large companies, for small companies the commercial and customs invoice may be the same. Likewise, the customs invoice in some cases has the seal of some consular authority of the importing country located in the country of origin.

On the other hand, commercial invoices are standardized with the information that is required to have. Meanwhile, the customs office may have other types of specific information required especially by the importing country. For example, you may require multiple sections such as a summary of the economy and a part where you require all the details.

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