Commercial Invoice Requirements for Importers

Learn what information CBP requires importers to include on their commercial invoices for proper classification, valuation, and to ensure that proper duties are paid.

What to Include in Commercial Invoices

19 CFR § 141.86 covers “Contents of invoices and general requirements” — be sure to familiarize yourself with all points (and sub-points) to ensure that your commercial invoices have all the correct information.

The CFR provides complete details, but here are the highlights of what must be on the documents:

General Information Required

  1. Port of entry
  2. Time and place of purchase, and the buyer and seller; or, the time and place of shipment, and the shipper and receiver
  3. Complete description of goods
  4. Quantity of goods
  5. Itemized purchase price, or, if more applicable,
  6. Transaction value of goods in the country of exportation
  7. Type of currency
  8. Itemized charges involved in international shipment (freight, insurance, packing, etc.)
  9. Eligible rebates, drawbacks, and bounties
  10. Country of origin
  11. Applicable goods or services involved in the production of the goods (“assists”)

The importer knows their product the best, and is ultimately responsible for providing U.S. Customs with all needed details — it is the Importer of Record’s responsibility to review all documents provided by their Customs broker (e.g. the 7501), to ensure accuracy (HTS code, country of origin, value of goods, etc.)

Additional Requirements

The above list pertains to section (a) “general information”. Notable requirements from sections (b) through (j) include the following:

  • Invoice must be in English
  • Invoice must include a packing list showing what goods each package contains
  • Name of “responsible individual” employed by the exporter who has knowledge (or access to knowledge) about the transaction

Review 19 CFR § 141.86 for complete details.

Commercial Invoices: Best Practices

In addition to reviewing the documentation compiled by their Customs broker, importers should be aware of the following practices:

1. Determining the transaction value of imported goods isn’t always straightforward. Make sure you understand what additions and deductions apply.

For example — are there any freight or insurance costs included in the value of the goods that should be deducted from the transaction value?

2. Pay close attention to any changes with the products you import, and discuss them with your Customs broker.

For example — changes in the ingredients of a food item, or the way it was prepared or preserved, can change the classification and make the difference between 5% and 25% duty assessed on the imported product. 

Additional Resources

Let your local C J International representative know if you have any questions about your import documentation, and we’ll be happy to help. We strive to be more than just a service vendor. Our goal is to be a partner in your success.

Our blog posts are for informational purposes only. While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate information, C J is not liable or responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any information contained herein.


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