Let us take up following documents only: (1) Commercial Invoice and (2) GR form.
Commercial Invoice: This is the basic document in an export transaction. It contains all the information which is required for the preparation of all other documents. It is, thus, a document of content. It gives the description of the goods, Harmonized Systems nomenclature (HSN), price charged, terms of shipment and the marks and numbers on the packages containing the merchandise. The date name and address of both buyer and seller, name of the shipping vessel and the port of destination should also be specified. There is no standard firm of commercial invoice. The exporter has to design the invoice form to be used. Some countries, prescribe their own forms. In such cases, the exporter has necessarily to use the form prescribed by the importing country.
The description of the merchandise in the commercial invoice must correspond exactly to the description in the letter of credit. Unless the letter of credit specifically states otherwise, generic description of merchandise is usually acceptable in the other documents. It is preferable however that merchandise description in all documents corresponds to the description in the letter of credit. Marks and numbers on the commercial invoice, insurance documents, bill of lading lists must correspond.
Several copies of the invoice will be required, some for the use by buyer and some of the information for various authorities in India.
Some of the invoices prescribed by the importing countries are: (1) Combined Certificate of Origin and Value (2) Consular invoice; (3) Legalized invoice and (4) Customs Invoice. The combined certificate of origin and value is required by the Commonwealth countries. Countries like the Philippines require a consular invoice. The consular invoice is to be certified by the authorized missions of the importing countries stationed in the exporting countries. The exporter is required to pay a prescribed fee for obtaining this invoice. Some countries like Mexico require a legalized invoice. This invoice is not very much different from the consular invoice as far as the aim of the importing country is concerned. The only difference is that in this case there is no prescribed form. Ordinary commercial invoices are accepted for legalization. The exporter has to submit four copies of the commercial invoice to the mission If the importing country with the requisite amount of fee. The mission returns three copies of the legalized invoice to the exporter. Countries like the USA and Canada require customs invoices. This invoice is required by the countries primarily for their anti-dumping action. The exporter has to submit the invoice in the form prescribed by the importing country.
While talking about invoices we should also be clear about the proforma invoice. A proforma invoice is simply a temporary commercial invoice which is sent by the exporter to the importer. This covers contemplated shipment which may or may not be made in future. This is required by the importer mainly for two purposes. First, it helps the foreign buyer to obtain an import license if required for a particular commodity. Secondly, it helps in opening a letter of credit in favor of the exporter. The importance of the proforma invoice is, thus obvious. The exporter should cultivate the habit of sending proforma invoices to the foreign buyers even if the same is not demanded.
GR Form: This Form has been prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India under FERA to ensure that the foreign exchange receipts in respect for exports are repatriated to India. This has to be prepared in duplicate. Both of the copies have to be submitted to the customs authorities at the port of shipment. Customs authorities will certify the copies of the GR form and will also record the assessed values. They will retain the original to be sent to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directly. They will return the duplicate after shipment of the goods. The negotiating bank sends the duplicate copy to the SEBI after the export proceeds have been realized.