Should commercial invoice and packing list show the same issuance date?

Exporters create packing list and commercial invoice on the same day for a regular international trade transaction.

But in some occasions one of the documents may need to be created earlier than the other.

For example, certified invoices or legalized invoices may have to be created earlier than the packing list, as certification and legalization process takes quite a long time.

Especially if the selected payment method is letter of credit, exporters frequently ask a common question in regards to the dates of the packing lists and commercial invoices.

Should commercial invoice and packing list show the same issuance date under letter of credit rules?




What does letter of credit rules say about the dates of commercial invoice and packing list?

Letter of credit rules, UCP 600, states that a document may be dated prior to the issuance date of the credit, but must not be dated later than its date of presentation.

But most letters of credit issued with a clause prohibiting a documented dated prior to the issuance date of the credit, such as one of the clauses indicated below:
  • Documents issued prior to the issue date of this credit are not acceptable. 
  • Documents issued before l/c opening date not acceptable. 
If letter of credit issued with one of the clauses stated above, exporters cannot issue documents dated prior to the issuance date of the letter of credit.

In this case documents should be dated which lays between the issuance of the letter of credit and the presentation date of the documents.
ISBP 745 states that an invoice need not be signed or dated. Additionally, there is no requirement either in UCP 600 or ISBP 745 that a packing list should be dated.
But most letters of credit demand signed and dated commercial invoice and packing list. 

Examples of clauses that are related to this condition are as follows:
  • All documents to be presented in English language at least in duplicate (being one original and one copy) unless otherwise specified including draft if any, the number of this credit and the name of our bank to be mentioned on all documents. All documents must be hand signed and to be dated on or after the date of issuing of the letter of credit.
If letter of credit issued with one of the clauses stated above, exporters must issue dated commercial invoice and packing list.

Conclusion:
  • There is no requirement under letter of credit rules that commercial invoice and packing list should be issued on the same day. 
  • Documentary collection rules have no regulation in regards to date of the documents. 
  • Under open account or cash in advance payment terms there is no regulation for the issuance date of the shipping documents. 
  • Bank payment obligation rules do not mention the issuance date of the shipping documents either.
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