Can you use two different invoices for distributors and manufacturers?

Question

We are a UK based company with a representative office only in Hong Kong.

We use a Chinese factory (not owned by us) to manufacture our product and export goods to distributors on ex works terms. We invoice our distributors direct as we do not wish our factory to know our sell price.

Our French distributor wishes to use DHL/Fedex/UPS; neither of whom will accept our supplier invoice to ship the goods as they state that we are not the shipper as the factory name is different. The factory can use a nominal invoice in their own name for customs clearance purposes but our French distributor claim that this will not be legal as they will use our invoice to clear goods in France.

Does anyone have any idea as to how we should proceed to expedite these shipments, please? Is it legal in China to use two different invoices?

Answer

Hi Frances,

Thank you for your question – our experts should hopefully come back to you soon with some specific answers.

In the meantime, our webinar on managing agents and distributors might be of interest to you.

http://opentoexport.com/article/webinar-working-with-agents-and-distributors/

Best wishes,

Will

Answer

Frances,

This is a very familiar problem. There are 2 ways to do this:

a) provide 2 invoices, 1st is used by Chinese factory to process through customs and export goods. The 2nd invoice is supplied to Fedex Agent to import goods into the EU.

b) provide a single invoice to the factory and this is used for both export out of China and import into France

Which you pick will depend on your factory relationship [trust] and/or the flexibility of your agent doing the collection.

Peter

Answer

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your reply. We have been using your method a), ie, providing 2 invoices previously. However, our French distributor is concerned that this could cause (legal) problems if they are investigated by the French customs. This is the area that I am having problems understanding. I realise that using a seperate factory invoice in China is an accepted practice but do not fully understand whether it is a legal practice. Are you able to shed any light on this please?

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