Customs Invoice Tips

Your customs invoice plays an essential part in the customs clearance process!

Illustration of customs agent reviewing shipment documents

Customs authorities use customs invoice details as an essential part of the customs clearance process.

When you create international shipments with DHL Express, you include customs invoice (Commercial/Proforma) details, such as information about the goods you are shipping. DHL sends your shipment details (data) to customs authorities for them to:

  • Assess duties and taxes to be paid
  • Screen the shipment for safety and security reasons
  • Stop or seize the shipment for further inspection when necessary
  • Check that the shipment contents match the invoice data
  • Enforce customs regulations as applicable

A shipment held by customs stops DHL from moving it until it is cleared, which could result in a significant delivery delay. This is why providing correct, high-quality customs invoice (Commercial/Proforma) information electronically to DHL is extremely important! 

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Efficient customs clearance relies on complete and accurate goods descriptions.

One of the most important things you can do to help your shipment through the customs clearance process is to ensure you accurately describe the items (goods/commodities) on your customs invoice (Commercial/Proforma) and other shipment documents as needed.
Customs authorities require complete and accurate item descriptions. Each item in the package must be listed separately with its own description on the invoice.
Item descriptions should contain sufficient detail about the precise nature of goods in plain language. When detailing the items on your invoice, you’ll need to describe:
  • What the goods are
  • What the goods are made of
  • What is the purpose of the goods
  • What the corresponding Harmonized System (HS) code is

Descriptions that are too vague or generic, can be considered unacceptable by customs. Such as:

  • Parts, Gifts, Textiles or Samples

More precise descriptions are expected. For example:

  • Women’s T-Shirt made of cotton

When you create your customs invoice in MyDHL+, our intuitive features help you accurately describe the items in your shipment!

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When you ship with MyDHL+ you can send your shipment and customs invoices details electronically!

As an important part of the clearance process, customs authorities review the data for every shipment – such as the shipping label and customs invoice (Commercial/Proforma). If you provide information in scanned or printed paper format to DHL, the details have to be manually re-entered into systems for customs, which adds time to the clearance process. But if customs authorities receive shipment data electronically, they can start the clearance process immediately.
You can increase the efficiency and speed of the clearance process by providing your shipment and customs invoice details to DHL electronically!
Providing details electronically allows for:
  • High service quality and lead-time performance for your shipments
  • Fast, automated clearance processes
  • Customs declaration process starting prior to shipment arrival
  • Complete and accurate customs processing and compliance
  • Avoiding additional manual data entry efforts
  • Avoiding clearance delays due to errors or missing information
  • Expedited risk assessment, such as identifying dangerous goods
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MyDHL+ helps you quickly create a customs invoice with accurate goods descriptions and commodity codes.

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