An invoice or bill is (according to Wikipedia article) a commercial document issued by a seller to the buyer, indicating the products, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services the seller has provided the buyer. An invoice indicates the buyer must pay the seller, according to the payment terms.
From the point of view of a seller, an invoice is a sales invoice. From the point of view of a buyer, an invoice is a purchase invoice. The document indicates the buyer and seller, but the term invoice indicates money is owed or owing. In English, the context of the term invoice is usually used to clarify its meaning, such as "We sent them an invoice" (they owe us money) or "We received an invoice from them" (we owe them money).
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A typical invoice contains
- The word "invoice"
- A unique reference number (in case of correspondence about the invoice)
- Date of the invoice
- Name and contact details of the seller
- Tax or company registration details of seller (if relevant)
- Name and contact details of the buyer
- Date that the product was sent or delivered
- Purchase order number (or similar tracking numbers requested by the buyer to be mentioned on the invoice)
- Description of the product(s)
- Unit price(s) of the product(s) (if relevant)
- Total amount charged (optionally with breakdown of taxes, if relevant)
- Payment terms (including method of payment, date of payment, and details about charges late payment)
The US Defense Logistics Agency requires an employer identification number on invoices.
The European Union requires a VAT (value
added tax) identification number on invoices between entities
registered for VAT.
If seller and buyer belong to two different EU countries, both VAT
identification numbers must be on the invoice in order to claim VAT
exemption (VAT exemption according to directive 77/388/CEE of 17 May
1977). In the UK, if the issuing entity is not registered for VAT, the
invoice must state that it is "not a VAT invoice".
There are different types of invoices:
- Pro forma invoice - In foreign trade, a pro forma invoice is a document that states a commitment from the seller to provide specified goods to the buyer at specific prices. It is often used to declare value for customs. It is not a true invoice, because the seller does not record a pro forma invoice as an accounts receivable and the buyer does not record a pro forma invoice as an accounts payable. A pro forma invoice is not issued by the seller until the seller and buyer have agreed to the terms of the order. In few cases, pro forma invoice is issued for obtaining advance payments from buyer, either for start of production or for security of the goods produced.
- Credit memo - If the buyer returns the product, the seller usually issues a credit memo for the same or lower amount than the invoice, and then refunds the money to the buyer, or the buyer can apply that credit memo to another invoice.
- Commercial invoice - a customs declaration form used in international trade that describes the parties involved in the shipping transaction, the goods being transported, and the value of the goods. It is the primary document used by customs, and must meet specific customs requirements, such as the Harmonized System number and the country of manufacture. It is used to calculate tariffs.
- Debit memo - When a company fails to pay or short-pays an invoice, it is common practice to issue a debit memo for the balance and any late fees owed. In function debit memos are identical to invoices and/or web invoicing.
- Self-billing invoice - A self billing invoice is when the buyer issues the invoice to himself (e.g. according to the consumption levels he is taking out of a vendor-managed inventory stock).
- Evaluated receipt settlement (ERS) - ERS is a process of paying for goods and services from a packing slip rather than from a separate invoice document. The payee uses data in the packing slip to apply the payments. "In an ERS transaction, the supplier ships goods based upon an Advance Shipping Notice (ASN), and the purchaser, upon receipt, confirms the existence of a corresponding purchase order or contract, verifies the identity and quantity of the goods, and then pays the supplier."
- Timesheet - Invoices for hourly services such as by lawyers and consultants often pull data from a timesheet.
- Invoicing - The term invoicing is also used to refer to the act of delivering baggage to a flight company in an airport before taking a flight.
- Statement - A periodic customer statement includes opening balance, invoices, payments, credit memos, debit memos, and ending balance for the customer's account during a specified period. A monthly statement can be used as a summary invoice to request a single payment for accrued monthly charges.
- Progress billing used to obtain partial payment on extended contracts, particularly in the construction industry (see Schedule of values)
- Collective Invoicing is also known as monthly invoicing in Japan. Japanese businesses tend to have many orders with small amounts because of the outsourcing system (Keiretsu), or of demands for less inventory control (Kanban). To save the administration work, invoicing is normally processed on monthly basis.
Bills from utility companies are based on measured (metered) use of electricity, natural gas or other utilities at a residence or business. When an individual or business applies for service from the utility (opens an account), he signs an agreement (contract) to pay for his metered use of the utility.
Some invoices are no longer paper-based, but rather transmitted electronically over the Internet. It is still common for electronic remittance or invoicing to be printed in order to maintain paper records. Standards for electronic invoicing or
Online Invoicingvaries widely from country to country. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards such as the United Nation's EDIFACT standard include message encoding guidelines for electronic invoices.
But the most common continues to be PDF over email.
The United Nations standard for electronic invoices ("INVOIC") includes standard codes for transmitting header information (common to the entire invoice) and codes for transmitting details for each of the line items (products or services). The "INVOIC" standard can also be used to transmit credit and debit memos. The "IFTMCS" standard is used to transmit freight invoices.
Use of the XML message format for electronic invoices has begun in recent years. There are two standards currently being developed. One is the cross industry invoice under development by the United Nations standards body UBL (Universal Business Language) which is issued by [Oasis]. Implementations of invoices based on UBL are common, most importantly in the public sector in Denmark. Further implementations are under way in the Scandinavian countries as result of the NES (North European Subset) project. Implementations are also underway in , Italy, Spain, Holland and with the European Commission itself.
The NES work has been transferred to [CEN], (the standards body of the European Union) workshop CEN/BII, for public procurement in Europe. The result of that work is a pre-condition for PEPPOL, pan European pilots for public procurement, financed by the European commission. There UBL procurement documents will be implemented in cross border pilots between European countries.
Agreement has been made between UBL and UN/CEFACT for convergence of the two XML messages standards with the objective of merging the two Online Invoicing standards into one before end of 2009 including the provision of an upgrade path for implementations started in either standard.
Payment for invoices
Organizations purchasing goods and services usually have a process in place for approving payment on the invoice based on an employee's confirmation that the goods or services have been received.