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Commercial Invoice, Bill of Lading, Letter of Credit (Summary)

Invoice Requirements

Information must be provided to CBSA for all goods entering Canada;

this information is usually contained on a commercial invoice or Canada Customs Invoice; invoice information:

  • allows CBSA to determine the risk of goods entering Canada;
  • provides the date of direct shipment for currency exchange purposes; and
  • allows the value for duty to be the exporter, importer, owner of the goods, or a customs broker may complete the invoice; and careful attention must be paid to information on fields 23 and 24 of the Canada Customs Invoice.

Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is a contract between the carrier and the shipper to transport goods; a bill of lading is issued by the carrier to the shipper;

A bill of lading may also be used:

  • as a receipt for goods received by the carrier which describes the condition in which the goods were loaded on board;
  • to support a claim against the carrier for loss or damage; and
  • to support a specific tariff treatment, since it indicates the point where the goods originated and any transshipment;
  • A bill of lading is either an order bill of lading (negotiable) or a straight bill of lading (non- negotiable); and
  • a clean bill of lading is one that does not contain any notations or comments that indicate that the goods being carried are damaged in any way.


Letter of Credit

  • is a commitment by a financial institution to pay an agreed amount to a vendor under precise terms and conditions;
  • acts as security for the exporter;
  • assures the importer that payment for the goods will be made only after the terms outlined in the letter of credit have been met; and
  • is issued by a bank at the request of the importer, and the bank agrees to pay the exporter for the goods once the terms in the letter of credit have been met.

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