What’s In a Name?

We have been working with a New Hampshire client to determine the cause, and reduce the frequency, of customs delays on their imports. More accurate commodity descriptions on the commercial invoice and airbills will no doubt solve the problem.

As everyone involved in international trade knows, the commercial invoice is one of the primary documents in the transaction. While there is no universal standard format for commercial invoices, including the following key elements will help reduce customs delays and entry mistakes:

Description of goods – If you do nothing else take an objective look at your commodity descriptions. Avoid trade names, brand names. A good description answers the questions: What is it? What is it made of? What is it used for? Most customs brokers and integrators pre-clear shipments electronically so descriptions can sometimes be truncated in the process. Best practices would include leading the description with the most critical info. Additional data such as part numbers or specs can be included in the body of the CI if necessary.

Invoice Number, Page Numbers – Avoids confusion for entries with multiple CIs or CIs with multiple pages.

Country of Origin– Best to use ISO country codes.

Related/Not Related parties

Incoterms and currency- these are elements of the sales contract. Indicate version of Incoterms (2010, 2020) as all parties may not be aware of updates.

Harmonized tariff # and duty rate if known

Summary of Value- must include IV Invoice Value. Can also include NDC Non Dutiable Charge (subtractions), AMMV Add to Make Market Value (additions), NEV Net Entered Value (bottom line- dutiable)

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