Customs requirements

A shipment of any type that travels only within the European Union does not need a commercial invoice. Please provide a commercial invoice for any shipment that is not a document which will travel outside the European Union.

How to prepare an invoice?

For an example PDF with fields for the elements described here filled in, click here

Please complete all relevant fields and print out. You should then sign and date the invoice.

Guidelines for preparing commercial invoices
Following these simple guidelines will help you ensure the trouble-free and timely delivery of your shipments. 

An invoice accompanying your international consignment serves as the commercial statement or declaration of the contents, value and a number of other elements relevant to the transaction. This information will be used for both security and Customs purposes and can ultimately be used as evidence should any infringement occur. 

Who should prepare the invoice?
Whoever provides the information in the invoice is responsible for its accuracy. For this reason and the possible legal consequences, an Express Line Service's  member of staff should never produce an invoice, even on your behalf. It is advisable that a designated officer of your company prepares the invoice.

Using your company's letterhead paper is a good idea

It is not mandatory for invoices to be produced on company stationery, but invoices on letterhead paper are generally considered to be more credible than those on plain white paper.

A correct and appropriate title is important
A number of commonly used titles are not accepted by many authorities, who expect to see the 'genuine' or 'legitimate' invoice. Terms like 'Pro Forma' or 'For Customs Purposes Only' should be avoided at all times. Customs authorities reserve the right to reject such invoices as not fulfilling the criteria for declaration/entry purposes. For shipments without a financial transaction, such as samples, the document could be titled 'value declaration'.

Don't forget the details
Full address details for both the exporter (shipper) and the importer (recipient) should contain, in addition to the correct name and address, as much relevant detail as possible. This would at least include phone and fax numbers (including country codes), tax ID numbers (such as a VAT number), registration numbers with Customs if any, and so on.

Clearly describe all the contents of your shipment
The description of the goods you are shipping must be clear, meaningful, complete and accurate. That means more than just brand names and/or catalogue numbers, and must cover the entire contents of the shipment. If the HS Code - the Harmonised Tariff Code used by Customs to categorise goods - is known, it should be mentioned here. This will ensure a correct declaration is made to Customs, both at export and import. You can make a formal application to the Customs authorities to obtain a binding notice classification for your goods.

Where were the goods made?
The origin of the goods, defined as where the goods were produced or manufactured, is a required piece of information and should be mentioned at all times.

What are 'INCO' terms?
The 'INCO' terms, or International Commercial Terms, refer to different conditions under which a shipment is shipped to the receiver. They not only govern exactly when the ownership of the goods changes and under what conditions, but who will pay for duties, taxes, transportation costs, etc. They are typically expressed as a three-letter acronym based on a short description, such as FOB (Free On Board) and CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight).

Refer to the Express Line Service's consignment number (Tracking number)

Reference to the physical shipment by mentioning the specific Express Line Service's consignment note number is always helpful and provides additional proof as to what goods are covered by the invoice.

True values are vital

The value on the invoice must be realistic and reflect the true market value of the goods being shipped. Even when sending unsolicited samples to potential customers, the value must reflect the value of that shipment as if it was being sold to them. For shipments with multiple content types, the values and the number of units of each must be broken down. In some cases, Customs may ask for proof of payment of the invoice to provide additional evidence that the invoice values shown are accurate.

Shipping cost
Stating the amount of the shipping cost and detailing whether or not it is charged to the recipient is not only mandatory in a number of countries, it contributes to a correct and compliant declaration to Customs.

Sign and date it
A date and a signature complete the invoice. Signing states the information contained in the invoice is correct. The signature can also be accompanied by a phrase such as "I hereby certify the above information to be truthful and correct". Invoices are generally signed and dated by a designated officer of the company.

For an example PDF with fields for the elements described here filled in, click here.

Last but not least
If you think there may be a special customs clearance requirement for the country you are sending your shipment to, please contact your local Express Line Service's Customer Service representative, who will provide appropriate advice. And if anything else is unclear, please call us - we're at your service and will be glad to help!


We have based these guidelines on the majority of worldwide customs regulations, but these can vary depending on the country and can also change without notice.

You can also check our Customs & Shipping Updates for the latest information.

Customs & Shipping Updates

Below is a quick overview of customs and shipment requirements around the world that may cause delays to the delivery of your international mail. 

Singapore - 1st December 2011

Effectively 1 January 2012, all classes of medical devices (Class A, B, C and D) will have import controls through TradeNet. 

Following the implementation of TradeNet Control for the import of medical devices with risk classifications C and D (moderate and high risk) in 01 June 2011, the control will be extended to Class A and B (low and low-moderate risk) medical devices starting next year. 

To help you minimise clearance delays and obtain successful customs declaration, here is a list of mandatory information an importer is required to produce for the TradeNet® declaration:

  1. Valid importer license number 
  2. Valid device registration number obtained from the Singapore Medical 
  3. Device Register (SMDR) / Transition List number / approval number HS Code obtained from the Medical Device Branch (MDB) 
  4. Product code 
  5. Quantity to be imported 
  6. HS quantity unit of measurement

Upon producing the above information for declaration, customs approval is required from HSA. The turnaround time for a successful submission with complete and valid information via TradeNet is approximately 4 hours. 

For information on how to perform TradeNet declarations for medical devices, please refer to the Industry briefing slides available online at:

The Medical Device Branch (MDB) is the controlling agency for the import of medical devices in Singapore through TradeNet. If you have any enquiries regarding TradeNet Control on Medical Devices, please email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact MDB at 6866 3560.

Norway - 30th November 2011


Please be advised that it is prohibited to send alcohol to companies in Norway unless they have an import license.  

There is however allowed to send alcohol to a private person, as long as the receiver/buyer on the commercial invoice is a private person and his/hers social security number is stated on the invoice.

If the alcohol is a gift, it is important that not only 'gift' is stated on the commercial invoice but also what kind of alcohol (e.g. white wine - Chardonnay 6 x 0.75cl bottles). The receiver will be charged import and excise duties even if it is a gift.

If anyone wants to send alcohol to Norway please inform about these rules.

It is corporate policy that excise material should NEVER be routed through standard product provision. Special Services should be used for excise material because of the high risk and specific handling of goods of this nature. 


Please be advised that gifts to private persons and companies in Norway are subject of normal customs clearance, meaning that the receiver will be charged import duties.

The only exception is gifts from a private person to a private person when the value of the goods are below NOK 1000,- and when the receivers social security number is stated on the invoice.

The commercial invoice must reflect this in order to avoid a normal customs clearance and import duties.

It is however important that 'gift' is stated on the commercial invoice in addition to a more detailed description of the goods.

Saudi Arabia - 21st November 2011

Herbs and medicines - SFDA Warns about Purchasing Drugs via the Internet

Saudi FDA warns the public from purchasing drugs, health and herbal products via the internet and not to be deceived by misleading promotions on some websites that sell drugs, health and herbal products of unknown origin and that are not registered by SFDA. Such drugs and products could be highly dangerous as their manufacturing conditions or pharmaceutical contents are unknown, besides, no quality assurance and efficacy measures exist. Moreover, the majority of such products are mixed with other falsified materials or do not contain effective material. Using such drugs and products may worsen patients' conditions and lead to death. SFDA emphasised in a statement to the media that such websites will be tracked through its inspectors and any entity marketing such products in the Kingdom will be closely monitored. SFDA further warns anyone who participates in promotion of these suspected drugs and products via the internet or mobile phones within the Kingdom will be subject to official investigation. However, shall not release any shipment containing any drugs, health or herbal product to the Kingdom via couriers unless prior approval is obtained from SFDA according to the conditions and requirements of import and clearance of drugs and medical products provided on SFDA website. For further information about the hazards of these drugs and products please visit SFDA website at:

Albania - 03 November 2011


Please be informed that there are new custom rules regarding imports to Albania.

All shipments containing mobile phones, clothes, dental fillings, medicines and reagents, that have origin from NON-EU countries, must be accompanied by origin and quality certificate, otherwise custom clearance will not be possible.

Korea - 03 November 2011


Korea customs has a plan to review import data by system from next month ( 1st December 2011 ) when international transport companies transmit the data for Import shipments before flight arrival. If origin provides incorrect data ( vague descriptions or non-english descriptions ), the data will be removed by customs system and so customs clearance will be delayed. 

Please ensure invoices have exact descriptions for customers and that all data is entered correctly into our systems so as to avoid shipments being delayed due to deleting of import data by the customs system.

Maldives - 28 October 2011

Customs penalty

Please be informed that  Maldives customs have implemented a new law  regarding import materials. As per this law, if any unmanifested shipments (courier or cargo) are sent to Maldives, customs will impose a fine of 10,000 MVR (700 USD according to current custom's exchange rate) on AMS Line (Associate). The origins and transit gateways (presently SIN & CMB) are requested to make sure that all consignments sent to Maldives are manifested. If this is not followed then there would be delays in clearance in addition to the fines. The fine imposed will be charged to Origin depot.

Albania - 28 October 2011


Please be informed that there are some new custom rules regarding imports in Albania.

All shipments containing mobile phones, clothes, dental fillings, medicines and reagents, that have an origin of a NON-EU country, must be accompanied by origin and quality certificate, otherwise the custom clearance will not be possible.

South Africa - 20 October 2011

Importation of gifts to South Africa

Requirements for the Importation of gifts to South Africa

All gifts imported into South Africa need to comply with the following requirements :-

  • The gifts have to be sent from a private individual abroad to a private individual in South Africa.  Any gifts sent from a company or an individual to a company would not qualify as a gift.
  • The invoice has to be Commerical only and in English, no proforma and hand-written invoices are allowed.
  • Vague invoice descriptions such as "GIFTS" are unacceptable and different commodities have to be listed separately with its respective values.

Yemen - 13 September 2011


Please be advised that from today, there are two important changes in handling import consignments:

1) World Economic Formum (WEF) Door to Door (S87) service is temporarily suspended. World Economic Formum (WEF) consignments should be sent only as Door to Airport (S88) service (Master Airways Bill (MAWB) addressed directly to the customer)

2) ECONOMY EXPRESS (48N) service is restricted to per piece weight below 32 Kg's. Exceeding 32 Kg's/piece should be send as S88 Door to Airport service (Master Airways Bill MAWB addressed directly to the customer)

AMS Line can't help if the above mentioned is not followed by origins.

China - 29th August 2011

Post code and town names in China

As a result of changes to some post codes and town names in China, instructions were provided to update addresses stored on our local systems.

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