ICC Issues Briefing on Invoice Titles

Citing frequent instances expressed on social media and otherwise where the types of invoices acceptable or not under UCP-issued documentary credits have been misinterpreted, the ICC Banking Commission released on 6 July 2023 its Technical Advisory Briefing No. 7 (TAB-7) dealing with “Title of Invoice”.

TAB-7 introduces the topic by referencing ISBP745 Paragraph C1 (Title of Invoice) and pointing out that C1(a) addresses what invoice type is and is not acceptable while C1(b) clarifies what constitutes a “commercial invoice”.

After reminding that an invoice must comply with a credit’s terms and conditions and reviewing key elements of UCP600 Article 18, the Briefing then addressed interpretation of how an invoice should be titled by analysing ISBP745 Paragraphs C1(a) and C1(b).

ISBP745 Paragraph C1(a) provides that a credit requirement for presentation of an “invoice”, absent further description, is met by presentation of any type of invoice except one identified as “provisional”, “pro-forma”, or the like. The Briefing then gave reasons why such invoices are considered unacceptable. ISBP745 Paragraph C1(b) provides that a document titled “invoice”, even if referencing it has been issued for tax purposes, satisfies a credit requirement for presentation of a “commercial invoice”.

Although UCP600 Article 18 is titled “Commercial Invoice”, there is no mention in the rules as to how an invoice should be titled and, for purposes of UCP-issued credits, the terms “invoice” and “commercial invoice” are interchangeable.

The Briefing’s concluding summary goes on to reference the first sentence of ISBP745 Paragraph A39 (Title of Documents and Combined Documents) which states: “Documents may be titled as called for in the credit, bear similar title or be untitled.” The summary ends by emphasizing that “the content of an invoice must appear to fulfil the function of the required document.”

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