The first invoices to be drawn up as an Entrepreneur or Company manager are the most delicate, the fear of omitting compulsory legal information or of drafting an invalid invoice which risks being settled late because it is poorly established.
To make an invoice in due form, there are certain rules, common to companies regardless of their status, which are well supervised and to be imperatively respected.
Basic contents of an invoice
Depending on the status of the company, there may be specific information to indicate on the invoice. However, there are mandatory details to indicate to make an invoice, regardless of your legal status.
The full identity of the seller must appear on the invoice:
- Last name
- Company name of the entrepreneur
- The SIRET number and place of registration
The VAT identification number of the seller and the customer or, failing this, the designation of the article of the general tax code which governs the exemption from VAT (depending on the statute of the company), the legal structure, and the amount of the share capital.
The registration number and share capital are not compulsory for certain statutes.
The invoice number and date (or have): It must be unique and integrated into a continuous chronological sequence.
Tip: Write your part numbers without spaces or draws. Precede them with “Invoice No.”. You will be able to easily differentiate them from “Credit notes”.
Also, always date your invoices from the day of the sale or the service concluded (a slight difference can always be tolerated). Proceed in the same way for your assets.
- Customer details: Name or business name and full address of the customer to whom the invoice is addressed.
- The description of the products or services sold: Their quantity, the unit amount excluding tax, the rate of VAT or its exemption, the delivery date if it is different from that of the date of issue of the invoice, any promotions or discounts.
- The total amount to be paid: This is the final amount to be paid by the customer must appear clearly on the invoice.
- Payment methods: Must include the conditions for a negotiated discount or, failing this, the words “without discount”
- Late payment penalties: Excluding cash payment, penalties are payable in the event of delay or non-payment, the rate and deadline for payment must be affixed to the invoices (in the absence of this rate it is the legal one in which will apply).
Do not forget to download our FREE editable invoice template!
Managing the Invoices
So, to do your invoices properly, you must take the time to know the mandatory information to be indicated.
But the work of the company director does not stop there. It is also his duty to ensure a correct method of issuing and archiving administrative documents (including invoices) in order to be able to defend himself in the event of disputes with its customers.
1. Method of Administrative Organization
Management practical sheet: there are several ways to send an original invoice. Billing delivered by hand or send an invoice by post or email.
For the management of invoicing by email, two rules must be observed regarding the standard for electronic data interchange:
The structure of the email must be established between the two parties. The format of the invoice must allow reading by computer, and its computer processing must not be equivocal.
The invoice must include an electronic signature that validates the invoicing process. The electronic signature makes it possible to identify the signatory unequivocally, and it must be created by means of control, which are exclusive and specific to the signatory.
2. Archives Management Method
Invoices are to be kept as they can be used as proof in the event of a legal dispute. The retention period varies depending on the type of invoice. It is at least 3 years and a maximum of 10 years.
Invoices, whether sent on paper or computerized, must be kept chronologically in your archives.
Tip: An invoice (or have) must exist in 2 copies, one for your client, and one for you in the format of your choice. The important thing is to be able to justify this operation at any time.