If you operate an ocean liner or any other freight shipping company that distributes products and shipments internationally, then you are likely already aware of the importance of a commercial invoice. Among all ocean freight shipping documents, the commercial invoice is arguably the most important for several reasons. First of all, the commercial invoice serves as the final “bill” between the seller (your company, also known as the exporter) and the buyer (your customer, also known as the importer). It is, in other words, the most final and most official record of the transaction.

Even more notably, the commercial invoice is the freight shipping form that is used by global customs authorities to review a shipment. A commercial invoice catalogs all of the key information points about a freight shipment. These key points include the merchandise included in the freight shipment, the identifying information for both the importer and the exporter, the taxable price of the merchandise included in the shipment, and other itemized charges like insurance and shipping or freight fees. When customs officials are able to review all of this information, it expedites the process of assessing customs duties and taxes, inspecting the shipment, recording trade statistics, and more.


The Hassle of Freight Shipping Forms

Though required by customs officials for good reasons—customs must know what is being brought into the country and in what quantitates—ocean freighters and other shipping companies often view commercial invoices as a necessary evil. Commercial invoices must include a great deal of information, and it all must be completely accurate, from the importer’s name, address, and contact information to details (including descriptions, country of manufacture, serial numbers, and reason for import or export) about the merchandise included in the shipment.

Sure, there are several helpful resources online to help your company design effective freight shipping forms (FedEx and Ocean Air both offer helpful sample invoices that are worth a look), but there are still numerous pitfalls that can trip you up when it comes to a commercial invoice. Perhaps you can never find the right commercial invoice form when it’s time to export a freight shipment. Maybe you have the form, but your filing system for organizing details about your product inventory and your importers is a mess.

As you might expect, either of these situations can bring about big problems for your company. If you can’t find the right freight shipping forms (or the information required on those forms), you risk delays in shipping and dwindling customer satisfaction ratings. If you send out a freight shipment with an incomplete or inaccurate commercial invoice, you risk customs fines for not having the correct documents or even return-to-sender problems that further delay your shipping.


eFileCabinet: A Better Way to Manage Shipping Forms

So how can you avoid the pitfalls that cause so many shipping freighters to stumble in regards to commercial invoicing? The key is to implement a better system for managing not just your shipping forms, but all of your business documents. When it comes to assembling the kind of commercial invoices that will pass scrutiny at customs, you need to be able to access form templates, buyer information, and details about product inventory—like serial numbers and countries of manufacture—quickly and easily.

The key is to establish an electronic system for shipping document management, which is where eFileCabinet comes into the equation. Developed as an electronic filing system for use in a range of business environments, eFileCabinet is perfect for organizing all of the resources you need for commercial invoices. Using this system, you can easily upload freight shipping form templates and inventory documents into the database. We will in turn store your forms and product details on several of our servers, making them available anywhere, so long as the person trying to access them has the necessary login details and permissions. We even offer mobile app integration, so that you can get started on commercial invoices from anywhere.

eFileCabinet is also fully searchable. If you misplace a commercial invoice form or an inventory assessment in a paper filing system, you can dig around in various drawers and cabinets for hours searching for the correct document. If you forget where in your eFileCabinet database you stored an ocean freight shipping document or form template, you can find it in a matter of seconds through our effective text search function.

Bottom line, when you use eFileCabinet for your shipping document management, you are given the power to turn the once complex and convoluted process of commercial invoicing into a quick and easy task. The result is fewer shipping delays, fewer customs problems, and greater customer satisfaction. Sound appealing? Try out the eFileCabinet demo for yourself today by filling out the demo form on this page.