Paperless commercial invoices for your international shipments

Posted by Tania


What is a Commercial invoice?

A commercial invoice is a crucial document in international trade. It serves multiple purposes, including providing information about the shipment, facilitating customs clearance, determining the duties and taxes payable, and serving as proof of the transaction between the buyer and seller. Without a commercial invoice, customs officials would lack the necessary details to assess the applicable duties and taxes or verify the legitimacy of the shipment. It plays a vital role in ensuring transparency, compliance, and smooth international trade transactions. 

However, advancements in technology have made it easier and more efficient to handle this paperwork. With paperless commercial invoices, businesses can experience a streamlined customs clearance process, faster processing times, and reduced delays.  

Benefits of Paperless Commercial Invoices: 

  • Less fuss

    Printing and attaching a hard copy of a commercial invoice is no longer necessary when using FedEx, DHL, or UPS services. Create your shipment like you normally would and our 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 saving you time and resources.


  • More efficient processing

    Your digital invoice is sent from our online shipping system directly to FedEx, DHL, or UPS for immediate processing. This accelerates customs clearance, allowing businesses to receive confirmation of cleared packages sooner, providing peace of mind.


  • Fewer delays

    Accurate and accepted information on the paperless commercial invoice enables pre-clearance of shipments before reaching the border. This reduces the chances of delays, and in case of any issues, the appropriate person is promptly notified, allowing for quicker resolution.


  • Cost-effective

    Eliminating the need to print and physically attach a hard copy of the commercial invoice saves on printing and shipping costs, making the process more cost-effective.


  • Faster processing

    Digital commercial invoices are processed more quickly than physical ones, reducing the risk of delays or additional charges due to missing or incorrect information.


  • Reduced errors

    Automated generation of digital invoices minimizes the chances of errors or discrepancies in the information provided, helping avoid customs clearance issues and potential fines or penalties.


  • Improved tracking

    Utilizing FlagShip’s online shipping system for paperless commercial invoices enables real-time tracking of shipments. This feature allows businesses to stay informed about their packages’ progress and make necessary adjustments to mitigate any potential delays or issues.


Restrictions of Paperless Commercial Invoices 

  1. Country-specific requirements

    Certain countries may have specific requirements or restrictions that necessitate a physical copy of the commercial invoice. It is crucial to verify if a particular destination requires a hard copy, especially for shipments over a certain value or specific types of products.


  2. Product-specific requirements

    Certain products may require additional documentation or permits for international shipping, such as hazardous materials or controlled substances. Businesses should be aware of these product-specific requirements and obtain the necessary licenses or permits.


  3. Language requirements

    Some countries may mandate commercial invoices to be translated into the local language. FlagShip’s online shipping system can generate invoices in multiple languages, but it is essential to confirm the language requirements for the specific shipment.


  4. Address Specific Requirement

    For shipments, where the ‘sold to’ address does not match the receiver’s address, the paperless commercial invoice would not be accepted.


Paperless commercial invoices have revolutionized the international shipping process by simplifying customs clearance and enhancing efficiency. Businesses using services like UPS, FedEx, or DHL can enjoy the benefits of this technology, including less paperwork, faster processing, and fewer delays. However, it is crucial to be aware of any restrictions or requirements specific to the destination country or the products being shipped. By embracing paperless commercial invoices, businesses can streamline their shipping operations, reduce costs, and provide better customer experiences in the global market. 


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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. Here are some related blogs for you:


If you have any questions about your paperless commercial invoices when shipping with FlagShip, feel free to contact our team at or give us a call at 1-866-320-8383 and we will be more than happy to help!