Pro forma Invoice

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A pro forma invoice is a customs document that accompanies shipments sent outside of the EU.

What is a pro forma invoice?

A pro forma invoice is a document that resembles an invoice but functions differently, as it is not binding for any of the parties involved.

Its primary purpose is to provide a preview of the goods or services to be delivered, along with their value.

In international trade, the pro forma invoice is essential for clarifying trade agreements without legal bindings and is also used by customs authorities to assess duties and taxes.

The task of the pro forma invoice is to provide a complete overview of the contents of the shipment, as well as the terms agreed upon between the buyer and seller, as this affects the customs value of the goods and enables the correct calculation of duties and taxes.

Below is an example of a pro forma invoice, which includes information such as the sender, recipient, description of the goods, and the price.

Example of a pro forma invoice from Shipmondo

When should I use a pro forma invoice?

A pro forma invoice is used as a customs document in cases where there is no payment for the goods or services.

This document is not just an agreement between the buyer and seller, but also plays a central role in the customs process.

To understand how the pro forma invoice fits into the broader picture of international shipping and customs, you can read more in our comprehensive customs guide, which provides in-depth insights into these processes.

The pro forma invoice can also be used if the goods do not have a price, such as in the case of shipping replacement items where payment has already been made. It is also relevant for returned goods or gifts.

If your company is sending free samples, it’s also necessary to include a pro forma invoice to inform customs authorities about the product sent.

Depending on the carrier and country, the pro forma invoice must either be attached to the shipment or sent electronically.

Filling out customs documents can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process, especially when you have many export shipments, but with Shipmondo you can automate the filling out of customs documents, thereby saving time.

Here, you need to fill in the category, quantity, country, content in English, tariff code, unit weight, unit value, and the total value.

Example of a proforma invoice from Shipmondo

If you under Categori choose Sale of goods or Other, a commercial invoice will be created instead of a pro forma invoice.

What is the difference between a commercial invoice and a pro forma invoice?

Unlike a pro forma invoice, a commercial invoice is attached in cases where the recipient is required to pay for the goods.

The seller, who often also acts as the sender, issues the commercial invoice, which includes a list of the sold goods and their prices.

The primary function of the commercial invoice is to provide a basis for the valuation conducted during customs declaration and the subsequent duty rate charged by authorities on exports outside the EU.

Electronic pro forma invoice at Shipmondo

When exporting goods to countries outside the EU, it is necessary to include customs documents such as a commercial invoice or pro forma invoice.

With Shipmondo, you can easily fill out these documents electronically when you book your shipment.

Once you have filled out the information, it can be electronically transferred to the carrier, a process known as ‘paperless’ shipping. This is possible with carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL Express through Shipmondo.

This method eliminates the need for manually printing and attaching documents, offers an environmentally friendly solution, and ensures that customs processing can start earlier – not only upon the shipment’s arrival.

Depending on the destination and chosen carrier, however, it may still be necessary to attach a copy of the pro forma invoice to the shipment.

Use shipping templates

If you frequently use the same carrier, freight product, or service, you can utilize shipping templates in Shipmondo to avoid filling out the same information over and over.

Here you can specify the carrier, freight product, which freight agreement you are using, the number of packages, weight class, and any additional options.

You can also use this shipping template to pre-fill your customs information, thereby automating the customs declaration and creation of the pro forma invoice for your export shipment outside the EU.

Below you can see an example of a shipping template from Denmark to the USA with DHL Express.

Example of a shipping template from Shipmondo with customs declaration

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