Consignment accounting

Consignment Overview

Consignment occurs when goods are sent by their owner (the consignor) to an agent (the consignee), who undertakes to sell the goods. The consignor continues to own the goods until they are sold, so the goods appear as inventory in the accounting records of the consignor, not the consignee.

Consignment Accounting - Initial Transfer of Goods

When the consignor sends goods to the consignee, there is no need to create an accounting entry related to the physical movement of goods. It is usually sufficient to record the change in location within the inventory record keeping system of the consignor. In addition, the consignor should consider the following maintenance activities:

  • Periodically send a statement to the consignee, stating the inventory that should be on the consignee's premises. The consignee can use this statement to conduct a periodic reconciliation of the actual amount on hand to the consignor's records.
  • Request from the consignee a statement of on-hand inventory at the end of each accounting period when the consignor is conducting a physical inventory count. The consignor incorporates this information into its inventory records to arrive at a fully valued ending inventory balance.
  • It may also be useful to occasionally conduct an audit of the inventory reported by the consignee.

From the consignee's perspective, there is no need to record the consigned inventory, since it is owned by the consignor. It may be useful to keep a separate record of all consigned inventory, for reconciliation and insurance purposes.

Consignment Accounting - Sale of Goods by Consignee

When the consignee eventually sells the consigned goods, it pays the consignor a pre-arranged sale amount. The consignor records this prearranged amount with a debit to cash and a credit to sales. It also purges the related amount of inventory from its records with a debit to cost of goods sold and a credit to inventory. A profit or loss on the sale transaction will arise from these two entries.

Depending upon the arrangement with the consignee, the consignor may pay a commission to the consignee for making the sale. If so, this is a debit to commission expense and a credit to accounts payable.

From the consignee's perspective, a sale transaction triggers a payment to the consignor for the consigned goods that were sold. There will also be a sale transaction to record the sale of goods to the third party, which is a debit to cash or accounts receivable and a credit to sales.