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 internationally 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.

From the 1 January 2021 our EU-based artists will need to include a commercial invoice in order to ship to the UK and vice versa. 

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 + statement of origin
  • 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.

If you ship with DHL, they will create a commercial invoice for you as part of the shipment booking process. However, if they don't, you will be able to use this tool.

Changes to commercial invoices due to Brexit

The UK and EU trade deal that was announced on Christmas Eve which defines regulations of the UK and EU trade from the end of the transition period - 1 Jan 2021.

From 1 January 2021  Customs Declarations are required between Great Britain and the European Union, therefore Commercial or Pro-Forma Invoices are needed.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement allows for a zero tariff to be applied to goods entering the EU from the UK (and vice versa), only when they meet the rules of origin requirements, which needs to be clearly stated on the Commercial or Pro-Forma Invoice. An example of a Commercial Invoice can be viewed 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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