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What is a proforma invoice

A proforma invoice plays a pivotal role in international trade, particularly when exporting goods or facilitating domestic deliveries. Primarily utilised in customs contexts, this type of invoice is instrumental in streamlining the customs clearance process.

When and why to use a proforma invoice

Proforma invoices are dispatched alongside shipments that do not require immediate payment from the recipient. Their purpose is to indicate the value of the goods, providing customs authorities with essential information in case the shipment is subject to inspection. Common instances of proforma invoice usage include sending gifts, returns, samples, and promotional materials.

For instance, if you operate a clothing brand in Australia and wish to send samples to a store in France, a proforma invoice must accompany the shipment.

Furthermore, businesses often receive proforma invoices from foreign suppliers when making advance payments. These invoices outline the value of the goods and the required pre-delivery payment.

Key elements of a proforma invoice

To facilitate a smooth customs process, a proforma invoice should contain detailed information about the shipment.

While specific requirements may vary by country, common elements include the title “Pro Forma Invoice,” date of issue, sender and recipient’s names and addresses, package item count, gross and net weights, a comprehensive description of the package contents, and a personal signature.

Importantly, the phrase “No charge. Value for customs purposes only” must also be prominently displayed.

How to create a proforma invoice?

Crafting a proforma invoice can be done independently, but attention to detail is crucial. Failure to include necessary specifications and documentation may lead to customs delays and potential delivery complications.

What is the difference between a packing slip and a proforma invoice? 

It’s essential to recognise the distinction between a packing slip and a proforma invoice. Unlike a packing slip, a proforma invoice provides comprehensive information about the item’s price or value. While a packing slip focuses on the logistics of the shipment, a proforma invoice serves as a crucial document for customs clearance.

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