A commercial invoice serves as a legal document used for international shipping where customs clearance is required. The Revenue Service/Customs authorities at the destination cannot physically search every shipment arriving at the border therefore a commercial invoice is used to allow customs to define the value of any duties and taxes which may need to be paid before the shipment can be released and delivered.
The commercial invoice therefore should allow DHL and customs to define exactly what is inside the package, including quantities, descriptions, values and weights etc. It should also contain details relating to the party paying duties including account numbers, VAT numbers, ID numbers, contact details etc.
A tax invoice differs from a commercial invoice in many ways, but one of the more important differences is the valuation of the goods. Where a tax invoice might indicate a single value for a transaction, the commercial invoice can indicate the complete breakdown of the costs that comprise this value. If for example the price charged includes the freight costs, then the commercial invoice can indicate the amount excluding the freight costs (also known as the FOB value) and the freight costs in separate lines. The allows the Customs procedures to be carried out against the net value. The omission of freight costs, one part of what is also known as non-dutiable charges, can often have a material impact where duties and taxes are payable against the Customs value.
If a shipment cannot automatically be cleared through customs DHL will need to contact the importer therefore putting clear and accurate contact details will also help speed up the clearance process.
DHL offers a easy 4 step Commercial Invoice generator here.