The commercial invoice is the commonest document in international trade because nearly no letter of credit issued without stipulating an invoice. In most cases, commercial invoice is the only document which the beneficiary issues himself which is in accordance with UCP 600, article 18(a)(i), “…A commercial invoice must appear to have been issued by the beneficiary (except as provided in article 38).”
It is the primary document where it reflects out what the goods are in respect of which presentation is been made and it states the price which is being claimed in respect of them. It serves as an accounting document and documentary evident in which the seller declares that he has sold to the buyer, what he has sold and at what price he has sold.
With regards to the commercial letter of credit, an invoice is a specific document which is closely related to the goods/services, quantity and price. The “description” of the goods is normally the cause for discrepancy which resulted in rejection by banks. This is because most of the traders do not understand the implications of non compliance.
To describe details of the goods should not at all be a major problem because it should go according to what is already described in field 45A of SWIT format. It is as simple as copying the description in a letter of credit into an invoice. For example, if the description in field 45A states “Advertising balloons and advertising blimps: 100 sets of helium balloons, 150 sets of advertising balloons and 50 sets of advertising blimps”, the invoice should bear the same description.
However, article 14(d) of UCP 600 in a way, provides allowance to the beneficiary where the description of the goods/services need not be identical but must not conflict with any data in any other document called for under the letter of credit. But bear in mind, a slightest mistake which brings a different meaning and does not refer to the goods mentioned in the letter of credit or ambiguous description, it is deemed to be a discrepancy by the bank. Therefore, to avoid any unnecessary disputes later on, the "description" is best to appear as a mirror-image.
The description of the goods/services in Insurance Certificate or Bill of Lading for example, may be described in general and need not be exactly as what is described in the invoice or letter of credit. It can be as general as “Advertising balloons and advertising blimps”. On principle, all data contents in all documents and the letter of credit itself must not conflict with each other.