Adjusting the commercial invoice
Correct product overages or shortages on the commercial invoice.
It’s frustrating for merchants and customers when there are mistakes with orders. It's important to ensure that the product sent, the invoice, and the documents used for customs clearance are accurate. Customs dislikes and will occasionally impose fines if the paperwork does not match what is actually in the box. The terms for these situations are “overage” and “shortage.”
- Overage - When the number of units received is greater than the quantity stated on the export shipping documents
- Shortage- When the number of units received is less than the quantity stated on the export shipping documents
When there are discrepancies on the commercial invoice, it affects (makes inaccurate) the amount of duty and tax charged. Remember that there is a declaration statement on the commercial invoice affirming that the information is true and accurate. (Example: "I hereby certify that the information on this invoice is true and correct, and the contents and value of this shipment are as stated.") Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the accuracy of the commercial invoice before exporting.
Now what? How is the shortage or overage resolved with your customer and Customs?
Correct item shortages
When your customer alerts you that their order is missing an item, compare the sales and commercial invoice for discrepancies. Any difference means duty and tax were charged inaccurately.
If you decide to send a replacement part immediately to satisfy the customer and complete the order, take these steps on the outbound shipment:
- Ensure that the commercial invoice indicates the commodity, description, harmonized code, and replacement value (everything has a value even if you aren’t charging the customer).
- Add verbiage indicating the value is a correction of an earlier product shortage shipment error (i.e., original shipment date and original tracking number).
How to correct a product shortage for Customs declaration
Most carriers have available a duty and tax dispute form that can be submitted to Customs on your behalf to correct a commercial invoice post clearance. The process can take time. Once you’ve submitted your form, the carrier will submit the dispute form to Customs, and will also communicate whether they will honor the dispute and issue a refund. If the customer shipped DDP, the refund will be issued to the customer from the merchant; but if they shipped DDU, the customer will be refunded by the carrier (details vary by carrier and country).
See carrier websites
Correct item overagess
How to correct a product overage for your customer
When too much product is sent to your customer you may decide to let them have the extra item at no charge or have them pay for the extra item. An international return of a low-value item may not be worth the cost of the return shipping.
Duty and tax were assessed based on the quantity and value of the commercial invoice. Did the commercial invoice reflect the full amount of the product or was the value understated? (See how to correct a Customs overage below.)
How to correct a product overage and adjust the commercial invoice for Customs declaration
Like in the case of a shortage, utilize the carrier’s duty and tax dispute or adjustment form (above) for a product overage. The carrier will submit the adjustment form on your behalf. There is no guarantee that Customs will accept the post-entry amendment, and it can be a lengthy process.
Please refer to a country’s Customs website for information on its specific protocol for product overages and shortages.
If I need to reship an item that got missed on an order, do I have to pay duty and tax again?
When shipping a replacement item due to an earlier product shortage shipment error, add verbiage to the commercial invoice indicating the value is a correction of that error (see more info about this above). If duty and tax are charged again, you will need to go through the duty and tax dispute process outlined in this document, referencing the two shipments.