On transport documents - particularly those used by Sea and Air - there is normally a section marked "Notify Party".
The location of this section varies but it is often the third box down on the top left-hand side of the transport document.
It is used by the Shipper and or the party who have contracted with the Carrier to identify any third party that is to be notified by the Carrier of the cargo's impending arrival. It could be a Bank, a Clearing Agent etc. The use of the Notify Party facility goes back to a period prior to mass communication and nowadays this facility is often no longer provided by the Carriers. In fact NO CARRIER guarantees to notify any party regarding arrival. Should they offer the service it is without obligation, risk or undertaking to actually perform the service. The details of the Notify party are usually in a box below the Buyer and may often nominate a "first" and "second" notify party.
Caution should be exercised if the Notify Party "box" is intended for the sole means of pre-alert communication between the seller and the buyer.
This expression is used to describe the invoice issued by the Seller to the Buyer for payment.
Exactly what the invoice contains in its detail is governed by two considerations. The first of these are any demands laid down by the laws of the countries of origin or destination. These laws may specify the wording to be used, how values are to be expressed or broken down (this is particularly important when calculating values for duty purposes) and the languages to be used, number of copies to be issued and so on.
The second consideration is that the invoice must comply with any terms and conditions of the Sales Contract regarding the invoice. This may require additional details over and above anything that is legislated.It is a vital document in trade and Buyers and Sellers frequently overlook its importance until they are faced with a problem. This reactive approach often results in detention charges and storage as well as disputes and uncertainty. It would be far more beneficial if both parties were proactive in discussing the shape, form and content of the invoice during the negotiation of the sale in the first instance.
Note that the actual expression "commercial invoice" is normally not required to be expressed on the document itself. Frequently the invoice has no wording indicating what it is - the assumption being that everyone will recognise it by its content. This again is dangerous and may even be legislated against - such as in South Africa where the Seller is required by law to issue the commercial invoice clearly marked "Tax Invoice", regardless of whether tax is raised on the sale or not.