How Does a Pro Forma Invoice Work?


Quick Answer

A pro forma invoice is not a true invoice because it's not issued following a monetary transaction, according to the Houston Chronicle. It does not have a specified format and instead only lists contents that are being imported so that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can complete an inspection.

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Full Answer

A pro forma invoice is supplied by the importing company and is used by customs because it needs documentation even if there is no commercial value to the items being shipped, according to the Houston Chronicle. For instance, wills, deeds and samples of items are also imported using a pro forma invoice. However, if there is a monetary value to the items being imported, then the exporting company issues a commercial invoice that enables customs to calculate and impose duties.

A pro forma invoice must include a description of the merchandise being shipped, but it can also include a monetary value for the items being shipped to indicate the future value of the items when they are purchased commercially, according to the Houston Chronicle. Customs uses the documentation to enable the merchandise or documents to enter the country after the importer supplies the pro forma invoice. Another copy of the pro forma invoice can be supplied to the exporter with information needed for entry purposes.

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