What's an Invoice?
An Invoice is an itemized statement used by businesses to list and describe the products they sell or services they provide to the customer. Used as a legal agreement between the company and its client, this document confirms the former is delivering the promised goods while the latter is paying for them in full - the customer obtains a proof of payment, and the organization benefits from maintaining proper records of all sales.
What Should an Invoice Include?
No matter who you represent, a large company or a small business that makes its first steps and signs its first deals with clients, it is highly recommended to draft an Invoice that would be different enough from similar documentation offered by your competitors and will contain all necessary details to make it legally binding for both parties of the transaction. Learn what does an Invoice look like and know what Parts of an Invoice are essential to make it enforceable:
- Title of the document - it has to state "invoice" to let the recipient know right away what they are dealing with.
- Invoice number - the customer will reach out to you in case of an issue and will tell you the number so that you know how to respond to their complaint or request.
- Name and contact information of the business and the customer.
- Goods and services you are creating an Invoice for.
- Date the Invoice is issued.
- Payment information - how much the customer has to pay, the selected payment method, and the due date.
How to Prepare an Invoice?
Follow these steps to make an Invoice that will provide the customer with the information about the transaction and will help you keep track of every shipment:
- Make sure your Invoices are well-organized by assigning an identifying number to every document. It is a good idea to use long numbers (starting with 1000, for example), give personalized numbers and letters to your most loyal clients, and use abbreviations when needed.
- Draft a table to list the goods and services in question. You have to include their brief description, record the quantity and price of every item, and calculate the total amount of money the customer has paid already or has to pay in the immediate future. If you are rendering services, indicate how many hours you have spent performing services for the client.
- If your previous communication with the customer or documents you have managed to sign in the past do not indicate that, mention a late fee you will charge in case the other party fails to make a payment on time.
How to Create a Commercial Invoice for International Shipping?
Every shipment you send abroad must be accompanied by an Invoice - this document will be reviewed by customs agents to let them know the contents of the shipment. While most Invoices look the same and many businesses prefer to stick to one template, if you are working with international customers, here are some tips that will help you compose an Invoice that will clear customs in the destination country:
- Specify the currency. During the negotiations with the customer, you need to determine whether the goods are paid for with the currency of the seller's or the buyer's country.
- Indicate the method of shipment. Typically, an Invoice contains the address of the purchaser; when it comes to international shipping, you also need to state that the products will be delivered by the ocean, air, or surface shipping.
- Describe the packaging and give numbers to containers and boxes if you are shipping multiple items.