August 12, 2022

Do I need a Proforma Invoice for Documents?

Despite being a document that provides useful insights during the trade, the importance of proforma invoice is always a question and whether it should be part of your documents. To further answer the question and what role does it play & different aspects related to it, we have written the article below.

A proforma invoice is an important document that comes in handy when you purchase from another company. It gives a quick idea about the payments in a little more detail, thereby helping you keep a tab on the cost of the material you purchase. Export processes include both proforma and commercial invoices, which may create confusion if not understood well.

There is another common question that businesses often seek an answer to. “Do I need a proforma invoice for documents?” This article explores the topic in detail to help you understand what you need to do. Furthermore, we also help you understand how proforma invoices differ from commercial ones.

What is a Proforma Invoice for Documents?

A proforma invoice is a quote that exporters usually prepare to mimic a commercial invoice. The exporter will include the relevant information, including quantity, unit price, and total price.

The exporter will then give this document to the customer who can use it as an estimate of what they need to pay for the goods. It allows the customer to get an idea of how much money they need to raise to fund the transaction before signing any contracts.

The proforma invoice is not necessarily related to actual costs incurred during a transaction. It may be subject to change depending on actual costs incurred during shipping or other factors affecting pricing at the time of delivery. However, it does provide a good indication as to whether or not there will be enough funds available for both parties involved in a transaction.

What is a Commercial Invoice for Documents?

A commercial invoice is a vital document that confirms the transaction and exchange of goods and services between a buyer and seller. Commercial invoices are for business purposes because they contain sensitive financial information about both parties involved in the sale transaction.

It is required by law in most countries, and helps track purchases, sales, and other transactions. Commercial invoices are often used in international trade as they provide detailed information about the goods sold, including their descriptions, quantities, prices, and other details crucial for tax purposes or customs duties.

The purpose of a commercial invoice is to act as proof of purchase by providing details about the goods sold and how much they cost. This information can help with sales tax reporting and other tax-related activities. The information on invoices also helps with tracking inventory levels. Companies know whether they have enough stock available to meet demand from customers.

Essential differences between Proforma and Commercial Invoices

It may look like commercial and proforma invoices are one and the same. However, here are five vital differences you need to know.


A proforma invoice acts as a quote or proposal outlining the particulars of goods or services requested by the buyer.

A commercial invoice confirms the seller has delivered the goods or services, and the buyer needs to pay for the same.

Reason of Issue

Businesses issue a proforma invoice when they receive a sales inquiry from a potential customer for one or more products. It acts as a quote, gives an indication of costs involved, and selling terms. The buyer can accept the terms and price listed or negotiate for a better offer.

Commercial invoices confirm the exchange of goods and services between the buyer and seller. It is final and binding. Commercial invoices leave no room for price negotiation or changes to selling terms.

Time of Issue

Sellers issue a proforma invoice when they receive an order inquiry from a buyer and a commercial invoice to ask for payment for the goods delivered.


A proforma invoice needs to include everything a commercial invoice would include. However, there should be clear labelling indicating it is a proforma invoice.

A commercial invoice requires the company logo, billing address, contact details, terms and conditions, etc.


Proforma invoices are not eligible for accounting purposes as they only give a general idea about the transaction.

Commercial invoices are accounts receivable or payable and are required for tax and audit purposes.

Is Proforma Invoice for Documents the Same as a Commercial One?

A proforma invoice is essentially a commercial invoice, but with a few key differences. As the name implies, sellers use a proforma invoice when they are still negotiating the terms of the transaction with the buyer.

The buyer will use the proforma invoice to estimate their costs and ensure they have enough money budgeted for the purchase. The seller will use it to determine what they can charge for their goods or services.

Proforma invoices are most often used when someone wants to buy something from you that's not available yet. For example, if you are selling a new product or service before you've started producing it in bulk. The format for both commercial and proforma invoices remains the same.

Is a Proforma Invoice needed for Documents?

A proforma invoice for documents is not essentially required as a shipping document. However, it can provide you with all the essential information you need to import goods and services legally. Since the proforma invoice contains everything in a formal quotation, you can also use it as a replacement.

Do I need a Commercial Invoice when Shipping Documents?

The first thing to understand is the worth of documents. Whether written or printed, documents do not hold any commercial value. If you want to ship documents overseas, you can do it with any reliable service provider. However, you only need to include the shipping label and related details. There is no need for any invoice.

How does a Commercial Invoice differ from Sales Invoice?

The main difference between commercial and sales invoices is that the former is for invoices related to business transactions, while the latter is for invoices related to sales.

A commercial invoice is critical for businesses as it provides them with a way to record and charge their customers for goods or services provided. It is for both large and small companies but is commonly used by larger companies because they often process several transactions.

Sales invoices are for recording and charging customers for goods or services provided. However, they specifically outline the details of a sale between two parties. For example, a customer buys something from a store.

Who Issues the Proforma Invoice?

A buyer issues a proforma invoice and sends it to a customer. It includes the expected price for goods and services and is more binding than a basic quotation. However, a proforma invoice for documents is not legally binding like a commercial invoice.

Do I Need to Pay for a Proforma Invoice?

A proforma invoice is not a legal document, which makes it less critical and not legally binding. As a customer, you need not pay the amount listed in a proforma invoice. You need to pay when the seller sends you a commercial invoice with an invoice number.

Things to Keep in Mind about a Proforma Invoice for Documents

A proforma invoice is a document sent to a client to estimate the cost of a product or service. It is helpful for businesses to communicate the estimated cost and terms of a transaction before issuing the final invoice.

When sending a proforma invoice, you need to know that it should be clear and easy to understand. It's essential to remember that if you send a proforma invoice with no other communication, it isn't legally binding. It is an offer of payment on various terms.

Here are the various items you need to include in a proforma invoice for documents:

  • Invoice number
  • Company name, address, and contact information
  • Customer’s name and address
  • Issue date and due date
  • Goods and services description
  • Price validity
  • Applicable terms and conditions
  • Payment details
  • Tax amount

Things to Keep in Mind about a Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a document that records the details of a transaction. It's important to keep in mind the following:

The date of sale must be on the invoice, as well as all other important information about the transaction. If you're using e-invoicing, make sure you can customize this information—you may need it for tax purposes or other reasons.

The invoice should state the items sold and how much they cost. It will allow your customer to identify the products they receive and how much they owe you.

You should also include information about shipping costs and terms to help your customer know exactly they will be paying for each item.

Here are the various items you need to include in a commercial invoice:

  • Name, address, tax information, and contact details of seller and buyer
  • Invoice number and date
  • Order number, description of goods, and their quantity and value
  • Tax details
  • Payment mode
  • Country of origin
  • Shipment date, freight charges, gross weight, export route, package details, insurance details

Final Word about Proforma Invoice for Documents

A proforma invoice is not essential for documents. However, it can help you get all the desired information about the sales and transactions. Another essential thing to know is that a proforma invoice is not legally binding. Though it contains all the details about the trade, a commercial invoice holds more importance.

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