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Explainer: Filling out your Canada Customs Invoice correctly

At Cole International, we believe that the more you know, the better your goods will go. Our Explainer posts provide valuable information you should know before you make your next move.

We understand that the logistics industry involves complex processes, regulations, and definitions that can be overwhelming to navigate. Cole's Explainer series breaks down key concepts into bite-size knowledge that's easy to consume.

In this Explainer, we’ll examine Canada Customs Invoices, best practices for filling them out, and common mistakes to avoid.

Proper Canada Customs Invoices: Time well spent

Regardless of whether it's filled out online, in a complex space like logistics, paperwork remains the order of the day. When it comes to shipping your goods between nations, filling out the necessary paperwork is not only essential to keeping your goods moving, but also to getting your goods cleared and avoiding additional fees. Sure, sometimes it feels like filling out paperwork is time well wasted; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. typing198232861_m_normal_none

In over sixty years of customs brokerage, we’ve seen a lot of paperwork. We’ve also seen a lot of needless delays at the border due to improperly filled out paperwork. Without a properly completed Canada Customs Invoice, our Canadian customs brokers may not be able to clear your shipment. At a minimum, your shipment will be delayed. Our brokers may have to call you to get additional information. Now you have additional communication fees being charged to you and your company.

All of this can be avoided by taking the steps to comprehensively prepare your paperwork for your customs broker.

Avoid these common mistakes on customs invoices

There are many mistakes we observe importers regularly making when preparing paperwork.

Here's are a few of the more common errors we see: failing to include the full name and address of the business and leaving gaps in information around the goods themselves (for instance, only showing the description of a good in technical terms or only providing part numbers for the products.) Finally, there are often unanswered questions found peppered throughout the forms, questions like who is paying the charges to what the freight amount is and more.

Needless to say, we can't offer comprehensive help if we don’t have all the information. 

Help us help you – best practices for filling out your Canada Customs Invoice

Keep in mind, every importer is unique and the required information will vary depending on what is being shipped. Thus, the information you need to provide on your forms will differ from the information your other importer pals will need to share.  

That said, here are a few key starting points to help ensure you fill out your Canada Customs Invoice accurately and comprehensively:

  • Always include the full names and addresses of all parties involved (seller, buyer, ship to’s).
  • For each item being shipped, include:
    • country of manufacture;
    • the Harmonized System (HS) code (if available);
    • a description of the product (in laymen’s terms);
    • the quantity being shipped;
    • unit price;
    • total value;
    • the invoice currency.

Beyond this, the overall best practice is to simply slow down and take your time. Complete any and all blank fields required and take care to answer all questions on the form. Spending time filling the form out comprehensively will save time and hassle down the line, guaranteed. Don’t forget – your Canadian customs broker is available to help or answer questions if they arise.

The more you know...

If this Explainer post has been helpful, we invite you to continue growing your knowledge base by exploring our earlier Explainer posts:

Explainer: Filling out your Cole Proforma Invoice (U.S. Customs)  

Explainer: Origin of goods - Canadian customs

Explainer: What is the difference between a refund and a drawback?

Explainer: container shortage and price increases for ocean cargo

At Cole International, we don't just help keep your goods moving. We believe education is key to your success. After all, the more you know, the more you ensure your goods get where they need to go. We’ve been in the customs brokerage business for more than half a century. When you're ready to ship, we’re ready to help.

Customs Brokerage. It's what we do.

Contact us today!

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