How to create the best export invoices for shipping?
In what terms, currencies, descriptions and values should be shown?
Commercial invoices can contain more information than many other normal invoices, so would include the following:
- full name, address and contact details of the seller and buyer – ideally e-mails, contact name and phone numbers
- number and date of issue of the commercial invoice
- number and date of issue of the proforma invoice, purchase order or sales contract
- price, method of payment, currency and any discounts or additional charges
- quantity, gross and net weight of goods and number, weight and type of packages. The seller should create a packing list with the same information.
- harmonised system (HS) tariff code and a plain English description of the products
- country of origin of the goods – also very important, some countries will have a FTA with the origin country, or a retaliatory additional Duty.
- means of transport and route – this again may be important in the case the buyer is paying the freight cost
- actual value of the goods
I recommend the seller check which countries require shipment invoices to be certified / stamped with your local Chamber of Commerce or the embassy. The seller should fully research this with their local chamber and it’s worth also checking with them if they can also give any instruction to the seller.
Creating the best Export Invoices for Shipping
What currency should I invoice in?
As you know exchange rates can fluctuate. If your invoice is priced in a foreign currency this could see the value of your invoice rise or fall depending on the exchange rate fluctuation on the day it is paid.
If you haven’t agreed a fixed an exchange rate then you don’t actually have a fixed price.
What if I want to just invoice in GBP?
You can pass the risk of currency fluctuation on to the buyer by invoicing in pounds. However this might make the seller much less competitive if not invoicing in either a more flexible and / or a more stable currency, or in the buyer’s local currency. Whatever you want to do you should always make this part of your agreement with the buyer.
What should I be aware of if I invoice in a foreign currency?
By invoicing in the buyer’s currency this could make you more competitive but the risk is that your final goods value will be liable rate fluctuations.
You can reduce this risk by:
- Agreeing a set exchange rate at time of invoicing
- Adding an additional fee to cover differences to time of payment
- hedging the currency at a fixed rate with a forward exchange contract
- You can Set up a foreign currency account with your bank and the buyer can transmit funds there.
If you do need to exchange back to pounds foreign payments you will need to expect a cost for that. You should ensure to include in any calculation of cost of your goods.
If the buyer chooses to go the route of payments to you in a foreign currency you will need to get a good deal with your bank and or another exchange rate conversion provider.
See also our post on EORI as this may be also relevant in preparing to ship.
You may also wish to review the UK government advice on exporting.