The invoice template can be downloaded by using the link further down the page. This is in 'Word' format - if you require it in any other format please contact us accordingly.
Once you have downloaded it, explanations and tips on what to include in the individual boxes are explained below.
Please note - when you fill in your first invoice using this template it may seem long-winded if your're not used to including so much detail. Your eyes might even start to glaze over and you may find yourself reaching for the biscuits.
But persevere. Once you have tailored the invoice to your own business then subsequent invoices are much easier and quicker to do!
Remember - incomplete or inaccurate invoices are the No.1 'reason' for not getting paid on time!!
Fill in all of your business details first i.e. leave your client details and invoice amounts etc for now). This will take a short time initially but once set up you can then save this as your own invoice template for all future invoices (if required). Then fill in your individual client invoice details, save accordingly and send us a copy of the invoice.
Remember, the main reason for this exactness in creating your invoice is to help prevent there being any grounds for delayment in the processing and payment of your invoice.
Delaying tactics and non-payment can often be as a result of something minor on an invoice - the wrong date, the wrong order number, the wrong business name etc etc. So taking time to ensure that the invoice details are correct from the start will ultimately help speed up the payment process. Some businesses will only highlight an error on an invoice as you start to pressure them for payment, meaning you have to amend and resubmit your invoice and the whole process starts again. In effect they are gaining another preiod of credit and you are left waiting longer for your payment.
The links for the invoice templates are below. There are 2 templates - one for commercial invoices and one for consumer invoices.
Commercial - where a product / service is sold to another business (e.g. you may sell a fridge to a restaurant or you might undertake gutter repairs on a factory)
Consumer - where a product / service is sold to an individual for private and not business use (e.g. you may sell a fridge to a private individual or you might undertake gutter repairs on a privately owned house.)
The invoices are very similar but the payment terms are slightly different as The Late Payment Legislation does not apply to consumer agreements/ invoices.
Filling in your invoice
'YOUR BUSINESS DETAILS' section
Your business or trading name:
Make sure you provide your full business name with no abbreviations and any suffixes such as 'Ltd' if you are a limited company.
If you wish to upload your business logo (which is probably advisable in order to help maintain your identity and branding) then 'your details' box can be dragged lower down to leave a space above in which you can insert your business logo. If you prefer you can send your logo as an attachment with your invoice and we can upload it to your invoice for you.
Your trading address:
This is your trading address whether it be a home address, business premises, a PO Box etc . If you are a company and have a registered address that is different from your trading address, this will be inputted in another box.
Company registration number:
If you are a limited company, put your company registretion number here. If not, delete this line.
VAT Registration Number:
If you are VAT registered, put your VAT number here. If not, delete this line.
IBAN (International Bank Account Number).:
Usually this only applies when working with businesses outside the UK. Sometimes your client may have a Head Office or Headquarters outside the UK which will deal with invoices and so may require it. Sometimes you may be asked for your IBAN as a delaying tactic. You can get your IBAN by simply going to www.iban.com and entering your business account details. If you don't feel it necessary, please delete this line.
Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number:
This is made up of 10 numbers and can be found on documents issued by HMRC such as tax returns, statements and corporation tax notices. It is not to be confused with a tax reference number which relates to PAYE and company identification. Again, this isn't required frequently but can be asked for as a delaying tactic. If you don't feel it necessary, please delete this line.
If you are a company and your registered address is different from your trading address, put it here. If the address is the same then you can delete this line.
Telephone/ email details:
Put the name and contact details of the department and preferably person who your client should contact if they have any query (other than payment) relating to the contents of the invoice. We will include a section that stipulates any queries relating to the payment of the invoice should be directed to us but you may still get clients coming directly to you.
'INVOICE TO' section
Client contact name:
Please insert here the name and/ or department of the person/ department which will be responsible for the payment process, not necessarily the person who arranged or authorised the work. Find out in advance where you should send the invoice to - for example this could be someone specific in a finance/ accounts department, a contract manager or just a department in general.
Client name and address:
The business name of your client and the address
Provide the most relevant email address that you can as this is where we shall email your invoice to. This should be to a specific person/ department where possible rather than a general email address to ensure that it get's to the right person effectively.
Provide the most relevant telephone number that you can.
'SHIP TO' section
Where you attach a copy of an invoice to a parcel/ item for delivery, put the shipping/ delivery address here. This may well be different to the address that the invoice gets sent to. Print off a completed invoice to attach to your delivery but remember to email us the invoice as well so that we can send a copy and monitor in the usual way.
If this section is not used, please leave blank.
INVOICE details sections
This is the part of the invoice which will cause the most disputes and so care needs to be taken to ensure that as much detail as possible is given, and given correctly. Don't give your debtor the opportunity to dispute an invoice over something they claim 'should be included on the invoice.' Yes, this may take a couple of minutes more to complete properly but it could prevent a futher month's delay in getting paid.
Seems self explanatory but this needs to be the date that the invoice is created or 'raised' (and sent) not necessarily the date the goods/ services were supplied. Usually the invoice will be sent out on the day of shipment or after the service has been completed. You can't usually back date an invoice or similarly try to 'jump the queue' by submmitting an invoice early. If the goods/ services were supplied on 10th March, you can't send an invoice across on the 23rd and date it the 10th. Similarly you can't usually submit an invoice before the goods/ services have been sent/ completed hoping to ensure an early payment. (Usually! There are always exceptions to the rules but for most cases this is considered best practice.)
One of the most mis-understood areas of an invoice. If you're not VAT registered, phew, this doesn't apply to you and you can delete this line. If you are VAT registered then you should supply a tax point (date) on your invoice - many businesses don't, even a lot of invoicing software doesn't have the capability to include a tax point.
So for those who are unsure, the tax point or tax date is (stop yawning) 'simply' the date the transaction took place for VAT purposes. This is required so that it can be included in the relevant tax period and on the relevant VAT return. (It 'shouldn't' be any reason to cause a delay in payment but it is required on your invoices so that is why we've included it.) In most cases the tax point will be the same as the invoice date. If however there is a delay in sending the invoice after the service/ goods have been completed/ delivered (the supply date) by 15 days or more, then the tax point becomes the supply date. If an invoice is sent or payment received in advance of supply, then the tax point is the invoice date or the payment date, whichever is earliest.
Sometimes, if there are two or more payments for a single sale e.g. a deposit/ advance then a final payment, this can give rise to two tax points. There are also different tax point rules for certain industries such as building and construction which can get very complicated.
Where you use the cash accounting scheme the tax point will be the date payment is received.
Every invoice you send should have some sort of reference number so that it can be identified and logged effectively. There are numerous ways of making references, the easiest is simply issuing invoices chronologically i.e in number order invoice 001, invoice 002, invoice 003 etc. And you can also include letter references or supplier codes for easy identification. For example, Vital Foods Ltd may have a code VFL or VIT and then a number. VFL001, VFL002. VFL003 etc.
Reference number /PO Number:
Or sometimes called a Billing Number. This is a code or reference sometimes given by your customer that will 'allow' you to invoice them accordingly for services/ goods supplied and will allow them to identify the order which the invoice relates to. If you don't have a valid PO (Purchase Order) number or reference when one is required then you may well struggle to get paid.
Payment Due date:
The all important detail! We always suggest giving the due date in black and white so there's no confusion or misinterpretation. No "net days", "upon receipt", "from this date" or any other fancy term, just a simple date:
e.g. "20th March 2017"
If there are no set payment terms agreed orally, on invoices or on other correspondence such as order forms, then this 30 day default period will apply. (This does not constitute a statutory credit period though as without an agreed term the principal debt will become due the moment the goods are delivered or the service completed.)
If however standard practice payment terms have become established, for example if the purchaser has always paid on the last Friday of the month following the month in which you raised your invoice, then this will become the 'agreed' credit period. Any payment that is made after this limit, in this example on the last Friday of the following month, is deemed as late.
You can choose any reasonable credit period though, as long as this is agreed by your client when placing the order. In our opinion 30 days is still way too long and 7 days should be the 'norm' or even on the day of order delivery/ completion. But this is usually impractical so for the sake of client relations and fair business practice, we would consider the statutory 30 day credit period as reasonable.
Again, to prevent delays it is important to get this right. If for example a statutory 30 day payment period is in use, this period only starts from the day that the goods/ services are delivered/ completed or the day that notification of the debt (their 'bill') reaches your client, whichever is the later of the two. If you deliver your goods on the 1st but only get around to emailing your invoice on the 12th, you can't really put on a due date of the 31st. It should be around the 11th/ 12th of the following month (depending on the days in the month). We usually have a grace period of a few days after the end of a credit period before we would even attempt to apply any late payment legislation. This is good business practice and also helps to give a bit of a buffer period for any date discrepancies.
It is important to check any contracts or correspondence that you have with regards to the service/ goods that you have provided. First of all check to see if there are any payment terms detailed - if there are (and they are fair) then these are the agreed terms that you must stick to. Look for any 'verification' or 'validation' periods that may also be detailed that in effect extend the payment period. For example if a 30 days verification period and a 30 days payment term are detailed then the overall payment term is 60 days. Also ensure that the contract is not a Consumer Credit Agreement and that you have not included your own payment terms and interest/ penalties on late payments on any of your correspondence as this will probably over-ride The Late Payment Legislation and so it will not apply.
Contracts in the construction industry are often prone to 'Arbitration' clauses so look out for these too.
It is important to get these details correct as any errors on the invoice will mean extra costs due to resubmissions and delays in payment to you.
Your invoice contents
There is another reason for itemising items on your invoice. If there is a dispute over a single entry on your invoice, then the remaining amounts on the other lines that are deemed 'correct' will need to be paid in line with your payment terms whilst this dispute is settled. However if you lumped all of your items into one sum instead then the whole invoice amount could be put on hold while the dispute is investigated.
For services give the date (or date range) of the provision of these services, and for goods the date(s) of delivery.
If there is an hourly fee arrangement, detail the number of hours and the hourly rate applied.
If there are shipping or other costs, itemise them here also
Thank you box and incentives
A simple thank you message can increase the chances of getting paid on time so include one here. You can choose an example below or use one of your own. Also include any incentives or early payment discounts that you may have here or take the opportunity to tell your clients about upcoming promotions:
"Thank you for your business. Remember you can save 5% if you pay within 10 days."
"Thank you for your custom. We appreciate your ongoing business."
"As a thank you for your business we would like to offer you 10% off your next order."
"Thank you for your order. Please see our website for fantastic Christmas offers."
This is your unique code given to you after account set-up. Insert this in the box at the top right hand corner of the invoice along with the chosen credit control plan for the invoice. For example, if your code was FINEF and you chose credit control plan 2, then you would insert FINEF2 into the box.
How to pay
If you only accept certain types of payment, stipulate this in this section and delete any sections that are not applicable to you. Please note though that it generally improves your chances of timely payments if you offer various payment options.
Detail exactly who any cheques should be made out to. If the address is different from the trading address given, amend this section and insert the correct address where the cheque needs to be sent. If they don't write out a cheque as stipulated on the invoice and you are unable to 'bank' it, this is a fault on their part and the payment period stands - they need to re-issue another cheque with the correct details on within the agreed period.
If you accept BACS payments insert your account name, sort-code and account number. You can also insert your bank's 'swift' code and 'IBAN' code here which are generally needed for international bank transfers. You can contact your bank directly or look online to obtain these. It only takes a few minutes and once you have them, you have them! It's not unheard of for debtors to ask for these codes as a way of delaying payment so if you pop them on in the first place it's one less card that your debtors can play.
If you accept credit card payments provide the telephone number or online facility details here.
Payment terms and conditions
You needn't fill in any blanks here with regards to potential interest / compensation / charges applicable as this is the one part of the invoice that we will complete (or check if you want to do the calculations yourself). Any mistakes here could delay payments or worse still cancel out any monies that could be owed to you. Detailing the interest and compensation chargeable here will help prevent any delaying tactics further down the line because if we end up exercising our rights under the Late Payment legislation, we don't want to confuse matters and possibly create further delays by submitting another invoice highlighting these additional charges. As such we include these additional charges on this original invoice and state the compensation and interest amounts that will become payable.
Additional business terms
You may have terms and conditions that you usually include on invoices and you can put them here. It could be a single line stating "the goods supplied remian the property of ...... until payment has been received in full" or "unless otherwise stated all goods are ex-works" . Or it could be a full page of terms and conditions. Or you may have nothing to put here. Please don't include anything related to late payments as these may override your statotory rights and be less favourable for you. We have already included the necessary terms regarding late payment elsewhere on the invoice.