How do I write a Commercial Invoice?

For those of you that are daunted by shipping, do not despair, it's less complicated than it seems.

What is a Commercial Invoice?

When shipping inter-continentally with a courier, like FedEx or DHL, you will be required to fill out a declaration for customs in the for of either a Commercial or a Pro-Forma invoice.

This document is designed to explain to customs officials what the contents of the package are and if an additional duty or tax needs to be levied. It is very important that these documents are 100% accurate as perjury on a legal document can come with a fine or, in some cases, a jail sentence.

What information do I have to include?

The couriers, like FedEx or DHL, will often have a template for you to follow, but there is some key information you have to include. Here is a list of critical information;

  • Sender's address & contact number
  • Recipient's address & contact number
  • The package's tracking number & carrier
  • A full description of the contents, including;
    • Basic description of artwork, quantity, materials, date, value, weight etc.
    • Harmonised code
    • Reason for export/intended use
    • Country of manufacture
  • A signed & dated declaration that everything on the invoice is true

Now, bear in mind, certain countries (such as the USA and Canada) will have their own export criteria, such as AES/ITN/EEI, which will need specific research in order to make the appropriate declaration.

Each courier will also have help articles to guide you in filling out these forms, you can find FedEx's guide here and DHL's guide here.

As ever, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated support team at

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