What do “Invoice” and “Packing List” mean?

They are essential documents for exporting cargo, which need to be submitted to a freight forwarder or a customs broker for importing cargo. As an e-commerce business operator, it is important to understand how to write an invoice and a packing list.

The Role of an “Invoice”

An invoice is a document which is provided with goods you purchased through an online shop.

An “Invoice” is used to check the contents of exporting and importing, and the amount of duty which needs to be paid by an importing country is calculated. It might make more sense to call it a “list of purchased goods” or a “delivery note”.

Due to Customs law, this document will be required for export/import declaration without exception.

Role of “Packing List”

A “Packing List” is used to check the volume of importing/exporting cargo, how the cargo is wrapped and what case mark is on the cargo.

Therefore it is not just a list of purchased goods or a delivery note. It is important that the correct information is present and clear.

The importance of these documents

You should never put a lower product price in an attempt to pay less duty, or underestimate the volume to reduce shipping costs.

Even if a freight forwarder and a customs broker do not notice, it may be identified after customs post audit and you will be required to pay a higher rate of tax.

Or, it may also become apparent when loading a vessel or an airplane, which could cause cancellation of export, leading to increased cost and time to collect the cargo and to cancel the vessel.

To prevent this from happening, remember to complete these important documents correctly.

Example of Invoice and Packing List

You may wonder where you could find the template to complete. There is no specific template for an “INVOICE” and a “PACKING LIST”.

If you need to create one, you can use our ForwarderOne’s templates.

How to write Invoice

Now, let’s take a look at how to complete an “INVOICE”.

An “INVOICE” should contain information such as exporter/ importer, product description; name of the product, quantity, total value, and vessel and flight number of the transport. It is generally written in English.

This “INVOICE” acts as an invoice, in addition to customs documents for export and import.

Therefore, it is important to create an “INVOICE” with the contents of the trading which can be easily read and understood.
Also, when completing, it is important to write clearly, correctly and in detail.

What information does an Invoice include?

1. Shipper and Consignee Information

Write an exporter’s (shipper’s) company name, address, telephone number and FAX number.

In the same format, write an importer’s (consignee’s) company name, address, telephone number and FAX number.

2. Invoice Number

There is no rule for the numbering of an invoice, so you can any format.
It will be useful to have a certain rule, such as numerical order, dates, sender’s country or company’s initials.

It is common to use dates.

3. Vessel and Flight Information

You need to write the name of the arriving port or the airport and the country.
The number of the flight or the vessel, and the departure date should also be written. If you are using a broker and unsure about this information, please check with them.

4. Trade Term

Trade terms needs to be written. You shouldn’t have any issue if you use the trade term set by Incoterms. For example, you can write CIF TOKYO and FOB SHANGHAI.

There are no rules for case marks, so you can choose your own. It is normally followed by a company name, destination, box number and country of production or an exporting country.

5. Cargo Description

Now, let’s take a look at the most important part, detail of the cargo.

Write the importing/ exporting product name of the cargo, quantity, individual value and total value.

A customs broker will decide the tariff code by looking at the product name, so it is important to write the information clearly and in detail.

How to write Packing List

The content of a “PACKING LIST” is not very different from an “INVOICE”. The majority of companies use the same template.

The difference is in the detail of the cargo.

Information should include the size and the weight of the cargo, the weight before packing and after packing. However, the individual and the total value should not be included.

If the number of cases and the total quantity of goods in each case are included in the “PACKING LIST”, it will ensure the process runs smoother in the case of cargo inspection.

Combine the Invoice and Packing List

In practice, unlike “INVOICE” which is required without exception, you do not require a “PACKING LIST” as long as other documents include the total quantity and the weight of the cargo.

Therefore, if there is less cargo to transport, you can combine the “INVOICE” and the “PACKING LIST” together.

Needless to say, a “PACKING LIST” is an important document to manage the cargo and is useful when the cargo goes missing at the arriving destination.

By now, you know how to write an “INVOICE” and a “PACKING LIST”.

These documents are not difficult to write once you get used to them. Once you have decided on the template which you intend to use, you just need to complete the template with the required information.

Please reach out to us if you have any question about freight forwarding. Our email address is service@forwarderone.com.