Commercial invoice undoubtedly plays a crucial role in import as well as the export of goods. It constitutes the basis of posting transactions, calculating tariffs, or in accounting. Moreover, the Chinese invoice is one of the documents that are indispensable at customs while importing. In the process of trading with China, in most cases a pro forma invoice is not accepted.
The correct clearance of goods acquired in China is sometimes quite hard, particularly since you need to consider both Chinese and European legislations. According to regulations, even this kind of import is subject to many restrictions. Every order entails the necessity to pay customs, value-added tax, and hence the need for a Chinese invoice.
Clearance – necessary documents
- Chinese commercial invoice – obtained in English from your partner/contractor in China
- The Single Administrative Document (SAD), confirming the import of goods into the EU
- Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
- Packing list – when the invoice does not include information on net and gross weight
- Depending on the kind of imported goods, other documents might be needed (e.g., a declaration of conformity, a certificate of origin, etc.
Chinese commercial invoice
You receive the Commercial Invoice from a firm in China. An English version is required. Customs regulations differ between countries. Commercial invoices might also require a VAT number, a signature, HS codes, and others. A Chinese invoice should include information such as:
- Name and address of the buyer, telephone number, fax
- Name and address of the seller in China, tel number, fax
- Date of issuing the invoice
- The number of the invoice
- Name of the goods
- Unit price in a given currency
- Amount (pcs., kg)
- Total value in a given currency
- Incoterms, e.g., FOB Shanghai
- Information on the origin of goods (Country of Origin – China, People’s Republic of China, PRC)
- A signature on the invoice along with the stamp of the Chinese company
The customs office accepts only invoices that include all of the above. Any missing part or error causes delays since the office asks for a corrected version. For that reason, importers cannot ignore invoices as a trivial matter.
Commercial invoice – what to keep in mind
There is sometimes an issue connected to differences in exchange rates (the value of an invoice issued in foreign currency can vary from the sum that was paid). Chinese contractors usually provide importers with a commercial invoice in USD. Trade differences need to be shown in tax returns. The value-added tax is accounted for only at import customs. However, the payment of VAT can be postponed. When it comes to the package, it should show the value of goods in the same currency as the currency shown on the invoice.
Furthermore, HS codes are really helpful. They are used by customs authorities to identify and classify commodities in order to specify duty rates, taxes, and necessary control and safety measures. HS codes are not legally required, but they significantly speed up the customs clearance process.
Chinese invoice – model document
Currently, many internet platforms deal with the processing of invoices. Furthermore, by merely using the internet search engine, you can find many examples of Chinese invoices. All one needs to do is search „commercial invoice sample.”