Creating an Invoice: Understanding the Process, Mandatory Information, and Useful Tools

Creating an invoice may seem like a simple task, but understanding the process thoroughly can make a significant difference in ensuring prompt payment and maintaining a professional image. In this article, we will delve into the essential steps of creating an invoice, the mandatory information that must be included, and introduce you to some useful tools to streamline the invoicing process. Stay tuned to master the art of invoicing!

What is an Invoice?

An invoice is a document that serves both a commercial and accounting purpose. It records all relevant details of a transaction, providing legal proof and enabling the vendor to receive payment. In essence, an invoice provides comprehensive information about the sale of goods or services, including price, names, and addresses of the seller and buyer, payment terms, and penalties for late payment. It is usually issued upon completion of a sale or service delivery and should be stored by all parties involved.

Legal and Commercial Importance

According to official administrative sources, an invoice has multiple roles. From a legal perspective, it provides proof of the sale or service rendered, allowing the seller to « demand payment of a specified amount ». Commercially, it details all transaction information. In terms of tax obligations, an invoice assists with « annual account establishment » and « VAT collection and deduction, as well as tax control ».

Mandatory Information on an Invoice

To be compliant, an invoice must be issued in two copies and retained for ten years. It must include the following mandatory information:

  • Date of the invoice: The date the invoice is issued, typically right after the sale or service.
  • Invoice number: A unique number assigned to each invoice, in chronological order.
  • Date of sale or service: The date when the product was sold or the service was provided.
  • Seller’s identity: Includes the seller’s full name, address of their registered office, and other relevant details such as SIREN or SIRET numbers, legal structure, and business registry numbers.
  • Buyer’s identity: Similarly, all relevant information about the buyer, such as the company name and address, must be included.
  • Quantity, price, and VAT: Each item or service sold must be individually listed, specifying the catalog price, any discounts applied, and the VAT rate.
  • Payment terms and penalty rates: The due date or payment period, penalties for late payment, and conditions for early payment discounts must be clearly stated.
  • Total amounts: The total amounts to be paid, including both before-tax (HT) and all taxes included (TTC) amounts.
  • VAT identification number: Required for invoices over €150.

Special Mentions

Depending on specific circumstances, additional mentions may be required. Missing or incorrect information on an invoice can lead to financial penalties. More details on these special mentions can be found on various official administrative sites.

Useful Tools for Creating Invoices

While free templates are available online, such as those from URSSAF for microenterprises, numerous tools can assist in generating and managing invoices. These tools, either free or paid, often offer additional functionalities like sending payment reminders and managing cash flow.

Transition to Electronic Invoicing

Initially scheduled for January 2024, the mandatory adoption of electronic invoices has been postponed. From September 1, 2026, all businesses, regardless of size, will be required to accept electronic invoices. The obligation to issue electronic invoices will be phased in: starting September 1, 2026, for large enterprises and ETIs, and from September 1, 2027, for SMEs and microenterprises.

All transactions between businesses domiciled in France and subject to VAT must be channelled through a state platform, the Public Billing Portal (PPF), before reaching the recipient. This initiative aims to prevent fraud, optimize VAT collection, and establish a state-managed electronic directory where businesses can track and retrieve their invoices.

With this transition, « new mentions will need to be added to the issued invoices », such as the SIREN number, delivery address (if different from the client’s address), and the option for VAT payment according to debit, if chosen by the provider.

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