What is a consular invoice and how does it work in exports?

A consular invoice details a product’s specifics for import authorities. In this blog, know more about its uses, format, and differences from commercial invoices.
What is a consular invoice
In international trade, some countries require a document to authenticate the shipment of goods and provide information about the consignor, consignee, and the value of the shipment. This document is called a consular invoice. A consular invoice can be obtained from the consulate of the destination country. It is used to obtain customs clearance and speed up the import process.1

What is a consular invoice?

A consular invoice is a document that enables the importing country's authorities to gather precise data regarding the amount, value, quality, grade, source, etc., of the products imported. It is an essential document that must be stamped and authorized by the consul of the importing country and presented to the country’s relevant embassy.

To get a consular invoice, the exporter needs to provide three copies of the invoice to the Consulate of the importing country. The Consulate certifies these copies in exchange for a fee. One copy is handed back to the exporter, and the other two are sent to the customs office in the importer's country to determine the import duty. The exporter shares a copy of the consular invoice with the importer along with other shipping documents.2

Uses of a consular invoice

A consular invoice ensures that imported items are appropriately tracked and documented. The paperwork may be needed by the importing nation to process the shipment and expedite the customs clearance process. This document permits customs authorities to identify the shipment contents, streamlining the clearance process in both countries.3

Contents of a consular invoice

A consular invoice includes the following information:
• Names of the importer and exporter, along with any pertinent information.
• Ports of origin and destination.
• A detailed description of the items.
• Extra charges (insurance, packing, etc).
• The shipment's total value.
• The certifier's name.
• Numbers and identifying markings.4

Difference between commercial invoice and consular invoice

Some of the common differences are:5

Commercial invoice

1. Serves as evidence of the completion of a sale transaction.
2. Provides a description of the products that were sold and the sale's total value.
3. No restrictions on the number of copies that can be made.
4. No cost associated with document preparation.
5. Provides details regarding the products and the conditions of the transaction.
6. Provides details of the sale. Useful for generating other export documents.

Consular invoice

1. Bears the signature of the Consulate of the importing country, certifying the import of a shipment.
2. Used for customs clearance.
3. Usually prepared in triplicate for the exporter, customs, and Consulate offices.
4. The Consulate charges a small fee.
5. Provides information on the products, their worth, and the fact that they were imported from another nation.
6. Required when a duty is imposed on the value of the items.

Consular invoice is a crucial document for exporting to a few countries. This document streamlines the process of determining tariffs in the importing country by providing an official record of the type and value of the shipped items. It also expedites the importing nation's inspection procedure.

E-commerce exporters should note that they may also be required to provide a consular invoice when exporting to specific marketplaces. For more support on export documentation and compliance, exporters can leverage services and tools like Export Compliance Dashboard by Amazon.

Amazon Global Selling: Your passport to easy e-commerce exports

If you are a business owner and you want to sell your products to the world, Amazon Global Selling enables you to list and sell ‘Made in India’ products on 18 Amazon global marketplaces. As an e-commerce exports program, Amazon Global Selling provides support and guidance at every step of your export journey, connecting you to Amazon’s Service Provider Network for tailored compliance, payments, and logistics support.

Registered sellers can choose to ship their products by themselves through Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) or they can opt for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and outsource order fulfillment to Amazon including packing, storage, delivery, and returns. Amazon Global Selling simplifies the process of international shipping to the world, helping businesses navigate customs and reach a vast audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a consular invoice?
You can obtain a stamped and certified consular invoice from the Consulate of the importing country. The Consulate charges a small fee for the service. The invoice ensures the accuracy of information regarding the goods' quality, source, volume, and grade. This provides security to the importer and speeds up customs clearance.6
Why is a consular invoice issued?
The consular invoice is a document that provides the customs authority of the importing country with accurate information about the quality, value, grade, quantity, source, etc., of the imported goods. Its primary purpose is to calculate import duties and expedite customs clearance processes.7
Published on February 28, 2024.


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