Commercial Invoice: What You Need to Know for Shipments Outside of Canada

Do you send shipments outside of Canada? If so, you will need to know about commercial invoices – when you need a commercial invoice and what information is required.

Commercial Invoice: What You Need to Know for Shipments Outside of Canada

Posted by Tania

Do you send shipments outside of Canada? If so, you will need to know about commercial invoices – when you need a commercial invoice and what information is required.

What types of shipments require a commercial invoice?

The only shipments that cross an international border and do not need a commercial invoice are those that contain documents. If your international shipment does not contain documents, you must include a commercial invoice. If you are shipping across a border and did not include a commercial invoice, your shipment will almost certainly be held at customs until one is provided.

How do I process a Commercial Invoice through FlagShip’s online system?

Once you set up the shipment details with an international address in the Receiver section of the New Shipment page, you will be brought to the section to fill out your commercial invoice. This page contains three sections.

A – Sold To

This section lets the customs officials know who the final buyer of the product is. The system defaults to show the information of the receiver of the shipment. If the receiver is not the final buyer, manually enter in the correct information. You also must indicate who is paying for the duties and taxes of the shipment – the shipper, the receiver, or a third party. Finally, you must indicate the reason for the export of the shipment – permanent, temporary, return, gift or sample.

In this section there is also a box for CUSMA compliant.  This indicates Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and there are only selected countries involved (Canada, United States and Mexico). If you check off this box please make sure you include the CUSMA compliance sheets. CLICK HERE to download the CUSMA form.

B – Inquiry

This section lets the customs officials know who to contact if they have any questions about the shipment when it arrives at the border. If this individual is the shipper, simply click on the “from shipper” box or, otherwise, enter the correct information. You are then prompted to choose the custom broker used for the shipment. If you have your own custom broker, simply find them on the list. If they are not on the list, let FlagShip’s customer service know and they will be added. If you do not have a customs broker and the courier will be used in its place, simply leave this area blank.

C – Items Included in the Commercial Invoice

This is the section where you will indicate what is being shipped across the border. Every individual item being included in the shipment must be indicated on the commercial invoice. This section has several fields:

  • Currency: Choose the currency being used on the commercial invoice – CAD or USD – by clicking on the drop down.
  • Name: The name of the product.
  • Description: A detailed description of the product.
  • HS Code: This is the Harmonized Sales Code of the product, a government generated code. If you don’t know the code of your product, you can click on the HS Code hyperlink and you will be brought to the Canada Post website where you can search for the code. Otherwise, you can enter the number 1 and the customs officials will determine the HS code for you.
  • Origin: The country in which the product was manufactured or produced.
  • Qty: This is the number of items in each box being shipped.
  • Price: This is the sale price of the items inside the box.
  • Weight: This is the weight of each individual item in the box.
  • Unit: This field allows you to select the unit that best describes the way your product is measured.

Once this is all filled out, simply click on Add Product and you will see it appear in the list.

What documents do I need to include with my shipment?

You no longer need to print and pack a hard copy of the commercial invoice when you choose FedEx and DHL services.* Create your shipment like you normally would and FlagShip’s online shipping system will generate an electronic version of your commercial invoice. Upon confirmation of your shipment, the invoice is submitted automatically to your selected courier.

*Please note: At this time, a commercial invoice must be printed and attached to UPS shipments made through your FlagShip account. For UPS shipments, you need to include three signed copies of your commercial invoice with your shipment in order to have it cleared without delay at the border. When you generate your shipping labels at the end of your shipment, the commercial invoice will automatically get generated as well. Make sure you sign and include all three copies of the commercial invoice with your shipment.

Don’t have a FlagShip account? Create one now, free and with zero obligation – start generating instant international shipping quotes right away!

Please note the information regarding commercial invoices should be used as a general guideline. For more specific customs-related information, please contact your customs broker.

For more information on this or any other shipping-related topic, please don’t hesitate to contact our customer relations team toll-free at 866-320-8383 or email them at