Ten things that should be on your invoices

I have said before here that a sale is not a sale until the money is in the Bank! So …one of the best ways of ensuring you get paid is making sure your sales invoices are complete, accurate and easy to pay!

1. The obvious ones … Business Name, Trading Name and Address, Company Registration Number and Registered Office Address, Contact Telephone Numbers. A simple way to make sure you don’t forget any might be to print your invoices on your letterhead which should already contain this information.

2. If you are VAT Registered your invoices must show yourVAT Registration Number (this may already be on your letterhead) and the invoice must identify the VAT rate being charged.

3. It should be dated (this is the date that tax liabilities apply from)

4. It should have a unique invoice number so you can identify it clearly, and this is also a legal requirement if you are VATregistered.

5. It should have a clear description of what the expenditure was for, and include references useful to your customer like their order number, their part number or reference etc. Make it easy for them to identify what you are charging them for.

6. It should show a Net Total, The Vat Total (if VAT is applicable) and the Grand Total payable.

7. It should show your terms – i.e. 30 days, immediately upon presentation, 60 days etc., or alternatively a date that payment must be received by …or both!!

8. One of the most important ones that many businesses forget is making it very clear how you can be paid – for example Cheques made payable to…, or BACS Payments to… and make sure your bank details are correct. Again – make paying you really easy! If you change your bank it is always a good idea to send an announcement around to those companies that pay you regularly because they may not notice this subtle change on your regular invoice and may try paying into an old account number – if your credit control process is well established you should pick up on this but it will still mean you experience a delay in receiving your money.

9. Some companies show details of what you should do if you have any queries, and perhaps impose a time limit to deal with queries with the product supplied.

10. Make sure everyone knows your terms and conditions of sale. Many businesses print these on the reverse of their invoices. Whilst there is no harm in doing this, in fact by then it is too late and they would not be legally enforceable. Your terms and conditions should be stated before the contract …so before you supply the good or services …not after when you are raising the invoice! … and one for luck …

11. Take the time and trouble to find out exactly where your invoices should be sent to ensure they are properly processed and go into your customers payables system. Don’t just assume it is the same place as where the goods or services were supplied, or where your contact is, etc. etc. This is especially true in large corporates …where if you don’t work with their system you might as well give them your goods or services for free!

So that’s 11 …who said Accountants could count!!

Go and check your invoices now …are you doing all of this list?

Garry Mumford
Insight Associates

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