An Invoice is a document sent to a client by a business for charges of the goods supplied or services rendered.
An invoice template is a specially designed document accessible online that is used to create an invoice. An invoice template includes standard elements and features of a typical invoice, all you need to do is fill in the trader’s details or business information, and details of the buyer to personalize it. You are also supposed to fill in the nature of service and goods including the amount the buyer should pay, and then submit the invoice to the buyer for action to be taken.
An invoice usually contains the list of the items or the services offered and the available modes of payment as agreed. An invoice is vital for record-keeping and helps show the amounts transacted by a business at a particular period for accounting and tax compliance purposes. Contrary to receipts that act as proof of payment and purchase orders that indicate interest to buy goods and services, an invoice is used to request payment.
Types of Invoices for Small Businesses
Businesses must have invoices for the goods supplied as it acts as an official document indicating proof of transaction.
The following are some of the types of invoices that small businesses can use to request payment:
Final invoices are billed to the customer after a project has been completed and has not been paid. Final invoices are sent to the customer to demand payment for work done or completed.
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
Past due Invoices
Past due invoices are invoices sent to customers to remind them of a pending payment still owed to the business. When a customer delays in making payment for an invoice delivered, it automatically becomes a past due invoice. A past due invoice is a regular invoice with the words ‘past due’ on it.
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
Pro forma Invoice
A pro forma invoice is a bill sent to a customer by a business before a transaction is made, showing the approximate cost of the goods and other charges involved, such as shipping cost.
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
A recurring invoice allows a business to continuously deduct a payment from a customer’s account for goods or services supplied. The business requests permission from the customer to start billing, and after that, billing will be done automatically.
Telephone bills. The customer gives the company his accounting information for billing for a particular service.
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
An interim invoice is used for billing large projects by splitting the payments into portions after completing certain parts of the project as agreed. Interim invoices are also referred to as progressive invoices.
Components: What a Standard Invoice Should Include?
Certain features must be included in an invoice for it to be considered valid.
The following features have to be captured in an invoice document when creating it:
The word “Invoice” is written at the top of the document to distinguish it from other documents: the delivery note or credit note.
An invoice number is a unique numeral usually generated to identify a particular invoice to avoid replicating invoices. The invoice number may include numbers and letters.
Your company name and address
It is advisable to include your company name, address, business logo, and contacts for branding purposes and to aid customers in contacting you in case of inquiries.
Company name and address of the customer
Include in an invoice the name and address of the customer that received your goods and services to enable your customers to claim VAT charged on goods delivered. A simplified VAT Invoice does not include the name and address of the customer, it basically only shows the amount the customer is expected to pay.
Description of items/service
The invoiced goods by the company have to be clearly described and detailed information inclusive of the quantity and price. In case of any free items or discounts, the items should also be documented in the invoice.
The supply dates
The invoice should include the date when the invoiced goods were supplied to the customer. The supply date and invoice date may vary but usually fall in a period within 30 days.
The invoice dates
The invoice date is usually the date when the invoice was created, and it may be different from the date on which goods were delivered.
Number of goods or services delivered
The supplier must state the total amount of goods in the description, with each item having an independent amount in the invoice
The total amount payable
The total amount payable is the total amount of money that the customer is supposed to pay the supplier and should be stated in the invoice. The total amount may include the shipping costs and any other charges as per the terms.
The terms of payment
An invoice usually has defined terms of payment indicated, and the customer has to comply with the stated terms. The terms of payment are usually stated in days within which payment has to be done after delivery. You should also note the modes of payment in the invoice if it’s a bank, you need to write your account details.
Purchase order number
In some cases, if the customer has issued you with a purchase, you may be required to indicate the number in your invoice. The purchase order is quoted in an invoice to help in matching the invoice with the purchase order that was used to order goods or services
Sole trader VS. Limited company invoice
In your invoice of any type, you need to include the ways through which the invoice can be paid. If the invoice will be paid via bank, ensure you list the account number and the bank code correctly.
Sole trader invoice
You must include the following sections when creating a sole trader invoice:
a. Your name
b. The commercial business name that you use for trading.
c. The address of the business if the trading name is used or your address.
Limited company invoice
In a limited company invoice, the following have to be stated:
a. The Company name in full
b. The registered location of the business and an address
c. The registration number is stated in the Certificate.
d. If the directors’ names are listed, you must include all the names
VAT Registered Invoices
VAT registered invoices are a special kind of invoices that are used if the organization is VAT registered. VAT invoices have more detailed information such as the taxable supply items as required by law and are usually issued within the first 15 days of each month.
There are various types of VAT invoices including the full version, simplified and modified VAT invoices.
The following are the different purposes of the various types of VAT registered invoices:
A full VAT invoice is used by retailers for goods that have a VAT tax inclusive. A full VAT is common if you are a registered VAT business that sells goods and services that are taxable. A VAT must be issued if the goods are subject to VAT, and if goods are not, then a VAT invoice is not given.
When a seller makes a sale of £250 or more, a modified VAT invoice is issued. A modified invoice is required to capture all the details for a VAT invoice and shows the total amount, net price, and due amount.
The following are some of the critical parts that you need to show when generating a full or modified VAT invoice:
- Unique invoice number
- Business name and address
- VAT number
- Invoice date
- Supply Date
- Name of the customer or business and address
- Description of the items or goods
- The total amount with VAT excluded
- VAT total
- Item prices with VAT excluded
- Item quantity
- Discount offered on any item
- VAT for each item to be indicated and also the exempted items
- The total amount including VAT for modified invoice
- Items with different VAT rates have to be shown.
A simplified invoice is issued by a business instead of full VAT when the total value of the invoice is less than £250. In a simplified invoice, the details and dates of the customers are not captured, and for the price, you only need to capture the VAT rates.
A simplified VAT invoice must include the following when being generated:
- Unique invoice number
- Your business name and address
- Your VAT number
- Supply date
- Description of the goods
- VAT rate for each item and if the item is exempted, it must be clearly shown.
- Total amount with VAT excluded
- Total amount with VAT inclusive
- For items with different VAT rate, the items need to be indicated
Common Payment Terms to Include in an Invoice
Payment terms are the agreed length of time stated in an invoice that a customer is supposed to pay for the offered goods or services.
The following are the most common terms that usually involve an invoice:
Payment in advance (PIA)
Payment in advance is a method of payment that a customer is supposed to pay for goods before being delivered. This payment in advance method is usually used for clients with poor payment history or for new clients.
Net(N) is a type of payment used by businesses to inform the customer that the goods delivered are to be paid in 10 days or 30 days from the date of invoice.
Net(10) means the payment is due in 10 days.
End of month (EOM)
End-of-month payment is a mode of payment through an invoice that means that a customer is supposed to pay for the goods a month from the date of supply. If goods have been supplied on 6th of May, you have to count 30 days from that day.
Month following invoice (MFI)
The month following invoice is a mode of payment that informs the customer that the payment is supposed to make on a specific date of the following month, which is usually the date on the invoice.
21MFI means that the payment should be made on the 21st of the next month.
Discount payment is a type of payment used by businesses by offering customers discounts if the payment is made before a specific date after invoicing. Discount payments ensure that there is prompt payment.
A stage payment is a mode of payment agreed upon by a business and customer to make a partial percentage of payment of the total amount, especially when handling a large project.
Payment Methods to Include in Invoices
Payment methods are the agreed modes of payment involving an invoice that a customer will use to pay for the goods or services.
The following are methods of payment involved in an invoice that should be outlined clearly:
Bank transfer (BACS)
A bank transfer payment is a mode of payment that allows funds to be transferred electronically from one bank account to another, which can be made online or via phone. The funds usually take three working days for them to update on the receiver’s account. For this payment method, you need to include in your invoice your bank name, bank account, and a sort code.
When making payments to foreign clients, your bank provides you with a code to enable the transaction. IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is usually used in Europe to allow payments in foreign currency or sterling. A Bank Identifier Code (BIC) or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) is used to identify your bank. In your invoice for this particular method, you need to include the IBAN, BIC, and SWIFT.
Credit or debit card
To make payment using a credit or debit card, you need to have a merchant account and credit card reader, and for electronic payment, you need to have a payment gateway. Credit or debit card payments are costly, and it’s only viable if you are making substantial transaction payments.
PayPal is a method of online payment between two users who have registered accounts with PayPal, which can also be used for credit and debit card payments.
Cash payment is a mode of payment used mainly by small business as is not the most convenient for bulk payment as one is at risk of getting counterfeit notes.
Essential Tips to Consider
While making an invoice or invoice template, there are a few factors that; if kept in consideration could largely impact the process as well as the outcome in an efficient manner.
The following are some of such essential tips to keep in mind during the process of making an invoice efficiently;
Make your invoice look professional
To make your invoice look professional, you need to compile your invoice and then use one of the professionally designed templates, or you can use word or excel and remember to include your company logo.
Clearly mark the invoice
An invoice should be clearly marked with the word ‘invoice’ written at the top; considering the proper format that is a general invoice-related requirement. On your invoice, also indicate a unique invoice number for your records to avoid duplicating.
Don’t forget the dates
When creating your invoice, make sure you add the date when the invoice is being created and indicate the date when the goods were supplied as it is very essential, considering the possibility of future legal issues.
There are many ways to create your invoice from a template that is already designed professionally. Invoice templates are available online; some are free, while others you will have to pay a subscription fee to use it. The invoice templates make creating and generating an invoice easier since you only have to fill the template then generate it.
Following are some different types of free downloadable invoice templates for you:
Benefits of Using an Invoice Template
There are several benefits of using an invoice template that is already prepared properly.
The following are some of the benefits of using an invoice template to create your own invoice:
- Customers might end up referring you to other clients when you send a great invoice with clear information
- An online invoice template generates invoices conveniently and sends you a notification when your customers receive and view the invoice.
- Using an invoice template gives an invoice a professional look and makes it stand out among other documents
- Invoice templates are easy to use and have some information such as the taxes on the items purchased, making it convenient to the user.
- Invoices template saves you time hence you will take a short time on creating it and as a result, you will be able to pay on time.
How to Send an Invoice
When you create your invoice, you have to decide the most efficient way of sending your invoice to the customer for payment to avoid any delay in payment.
Following are some ways through which you can send your invoice to customers:
An invoice can be sent manually if that is an available option such as in times when the recipient is located at a feasible distance.
Email is one of the ways of sending an invoice to a customer, and before sending, you should make sure you have the details of someone in the accounting department in charge of payment for easier follow-up in case of delay. The invoice document sent should be saved in a standard format that can be opened and avoid formats that can be tempered easily, such as word or excel.
You need to use a subject that can be seen quickly by the one receiving your email to avoid it getting lost and have the correct format for your subject headers such as company name, invoice number, month, and year.
Through mobile apps
There are many online ways of creating/generating invoices using software, some are free, and some you need to pay for. An invoice generating software is used to generate invoices, which are shared with the customers directly over the internet.
Additional Tips to Get Paid on Time
Some clients tend to take a long time to make payments for services or goods when running a business.
Below are some of the tips for you to follow to get paid on time:
- Before engaging with a customer, you need to notify him of the Terms and Conditions and have a written agreement signed by both parties to guarantee payment for your goods or services rendered.
- When creating your invoices, you need to make your payment terms clear and have the customer agree before engaging in the transaction.
- Having the contacts of the contact person from the customer side makes it easier for you to do a follow-up on delayed payments.
- When you have the purchase order from your customer and quoting it in your invoice it will act as a contract and can be used to make a legal case if a customer fails to pay.
- Provide a convenient payment method to the customers, to make it easy for your clients to process payments, and as a result, you will be paid on time
- For large projects, always request a milestone payment method to reduce the risk of piling debt or not getting paid after completing the task.
- Write due dates on top of your invoices and constantly send reminders to customers about their late payments immediately after the due date is passed.
- Sending constant notifications to customers to request for clearance of late payments shows your customers that you are a professional in the business
Frequently Asked Questions
When you want to create an invoice, you can use invoicing software, which is convenient. Invoicing software enables you to customize your invoice according to your liking.
- When listing the items or services on the invoice, you need to give detailed and precise information about the goods or services you are invoicing, such as the price, quantity, and discount. The goods that have VAT or are zero-rated also need to be indicated on the invoice.
- In your invoice, if there is any money that the customers owe you, it needs to be added to the invoice together with a total of goods supplied. For the cases where a discount is being offered, you need to minus it from the total amount. Goods with VAT and those that are zero-rated also need to be indicated in your invoice.
- You should mention your terms of payment as you had agreed with the customer and outline the modes of payment in your invoice. If it’s payment through the bank, be sure to give your bank details on your invoice.