Consignment Export vs Invoice

I don’t know if this has an accounting solution or a Manager solution. In my business when i export any items, we do it on consignment, but most of the times if not always, the value of sale (after negotiations) is less and so i invoice my clients the agreed upon price. But this is creating a problem for me, because I need to keep track of each customer’s total consignment even after the sale (for custom purposes who have cleared the consignment not the invoice) so i cannot modify the value on the invoice after the sale and be done with it. And Sales quotes can be a substitute but i cannot sum it up automatically and for each customer separately and cannot check the monthly or yearly total that i need to submit. One messy solution is to create for each export 2 invoices, one for consignment purposes and one for the sales, under which the customer would have two account, one for each. Any one has a better and cleaner solution?

Whatever you do, do not create two invoices. Manager will then double-count the revenue and you’ll owe taxes on both.

There was some discussion about consignments a week or so ago on this Forum. In that thread, I made the point that consignments are not financial transactions. They are marketing activities. Instead of placing an item in your shop window, hoping someone will walk by and see it and buy it, you place it with your consignee, hoping you can sell it through that channel. But you still own the item, so neither inventory nor revenue nor payable taxes have changed.

I am not an expert on customs and duties, but in my limited experience, most countries have provisions for import of sales samples and marketing materials, such as for trade shows. The underlying theory is that if they allow you to import without duty, you are more likely to make the sale and they can then collect the duties and/or taxes involved. You should check with an attorney or customs experts on this. Certainly, everything is tracked, and if you don’t re-export the item within a defined period, they will expect the duties to be paid. At any rate, this is neither an accounting nor a Manager issue. The time when transactions should be entered is when money is actually paid to someone or received from someone.

My recommendation is to keep track of which consignee has what separately. A simple spreadsheet should do the job. When an actual sale is made, issue the sales invoice for the correct amount. Make appropriate entries in Manager for duties, taxes, commissions, etc. Separately, adjust your spreadsheet to show which consignees still have items from you.

Sounds like what you are missing is a ‘COMMERCIAL INVOICE’, i.e. the paperwork required to state the value of the shipment to Customs.

Maybe this is something that @lubos could help with. Here’s my thought:

You can already enter a SALES ORDER and you can copy that to create a DELIVERY NOTE (i.e. Packing slip). It would be nice if you could then copy that DELIVERY NOTE to produce a COMMERICAL INVOICE.

Again a “commerical invoice” is a shipping document not a true “Invoice”. Basically this would be the same thing as the DELIVERY note but with a title of “COMMERCIAL INVOICE”. The price column would typically be headed “Value” rather than price and there would typically be a statement a the bottom to the effect of "These Commodities Were Exported From “INSERT COUNTRY YOU ARE IN HERE” In Accordance With Export Regulations.
Diversion Contrary To “INSERT COUNTRY AGAIN HERE” Law Is Prohibited.
I Declare that all Information Contained in this Invoice is True and Correct.
Signature of Shipper Exporter


Something like that is typical but you’d need to consider local regulations . You’d have to research too, since if you are consigning the goods cross border you’d likely be the party importing the goods too. Make sure you know the legalities for your consignment scenario and get legal advice.


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@alasdair is on the right track. However, @asal, despite my respect for @alasdair, I encourage you not to take his advice too literally. Check with a knowledgeable attorney to make sure you have the proper forms and terminology for the countries involved. You can get into very heavy penalties for tiny departures from required procedures. You might want to consider using a good commercial forwarding agent, as well.

Commercial Invoices are a pretty standard export shipping document, but @Tut is absolutely correct. I was simply giving an example and looking to clarify/confirm that what you are really missing is the customs value document (commercial invoice) not the actual tax/sales invoice. No one here is giving export advice, do seek legal advice for that. Comments here are simply around the possibility of commercial invoice functionality not how/when to legally use it or to do exports, that of course would be for you to determine.

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@Tut @alasdair, thank you so much for your response. I have an excellent commercial forwarding agent who handles all my customs paperwork. I agree, a commercial invoice is whats needed here and it would be a nice add-on for export and import purposes. But until then, i think i’ll take @Tut’s advise and track the shipments on an other spreadsheet. Again, thanks for the support.