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history of invoices...[edit]

Anyone some resorces on the history of invoices? (Signed: J.Smith) 21:53, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

What is on an invoice[edit]

I suspect many of the items mentioned in the current article aren't really typical items on an invoice. Take the DUNS number for example. Only businesses in the United States can apply for a DUNS number (see, therefore this is realy a country-specific thing.

IMO an invoice should at minimum contain:

  • The word "invoice"
  • A unique reference number (in case of correspondence about the invoice)
  • Date of the invoice
  • Name and contact details of the provider
  • Tax or company registration details of provider (if relevant)
  • Name and contact details of the client/customer
  • Date that the product was sent/delivered
  • Purchase order number (and/or similar tracking numbers requested by the client/customer to be mentioned on the invoice)
  • Description of the product(s)
  • Unit price(s) of the product(s) (if relevant)
  • Total amount charged (optionally with breakdown of taxes, if relevant)
  • Payment terms (including method of payment, date of payment, and details about charges late payment)

Displaying columns and calculating the totals of each column really isn't necessary, IMO. Shipping method and cost is part of the description of the product, IMO, and need not necessarily be mentioned separately. -- leuce 21:02, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree leuce - see my point on Variations below Pkearney 13:36, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Invoice always only after delivery?[edit]

I have looked at Wikipedia to find out the English expression for invoice issued after services supplied and invoice issued before (in advance) the services agreed on. Also: regular invoices for services through the year - A Monthly invoice(?) July 2007 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:51, 17 July 2007.

The article states "An invoice is a commercial document... for products or services with which the seller has already provided the buyer." Is it really part of the definition of an invoice that it can only be issues after the product has been delivered? What about advance invoices (also called pro forma invoices)? -- leuce 21:06, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Umm... I'm thinking that would be a variant. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 19:27, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
See Pro forma. Pro forma invoices do not record a transfer of goods from a seller to a buyer, so a pro forma invoice doesn't get recorded under accounts receivable for the seller and accounts payable for the buyer. Pro forma invoices are most often used for customs valuation. I agree with J.S that it should be listed as a variant. --SueHay 14:54, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I dont think that the definition is correct leuce . In my experience, an invoice is a formal request for payment and it has nothing to do with whether or not the goods or services have been delivered. The parties may have agreed that payment should precede delivery of goods and in this case the issuing of the invoice should precede delivery. Pkearney 12:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Merge from Collective invoicing[edit]

I believe the brief information in Collective invoicing belongs here under the heading "Variations". Comments? --SueHay 00:40, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like a good idea. Any academic material to back up the article? I've had a hard time finding any academic material on Invoicing. (that is, I Don't have access to any accounting text-books). ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 19:26, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I think it falls under bookkeeping and contract. Very common actions, but not especially academic. --SueHay 23:46, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
Sometimes It's amazing how hard it is to find sources on something so common. (for example, find a reliable source on how to use a fork. :)) ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 13:18, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
Fork etiquette needs illustrations and references as badly as this article does :)) I've got an accounting book with a sample invoice, and I made a wiki table that looks like the invoice in the book. But the wiki table seems awfully big, and when I try to make it smaller, you can't read it. The table is in my sandbox. Can you help me? --SueHay 14:00, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Tax Invoices[edit]

I would like to suggest that this page should include an explanation of Tax Invoices as distict from standard invoices. In countries that have a Value Added Tax , the issuing a a Tax Invoice as opposed to a standard Invoice entitles the party to which the invoice has been made out to claim the VAT back from the taxation authority if they are business registered to charge VAT. Would anyone object to me adding a section on this?Pkearney 12:16, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Bills and Invoices[edit]

The term "bill" to be more frequently used in North America (as opposed to other English speaking countries) to mean "a piece of paper showing how much is owed". In Britain, Australia and New Zealand, the term Invoice is more likely to be used as is evidenced by the legal requirement to print the words "Tax Invoice" on the document when chaging VAT or GST (as its called in Aus and NZ).

The term "bill" in the UK, Australia and NZ is generally used in the context of "bill of exchange" or "bill of lading" or "bill of materials". Americans might speak of a "hundred dollar bill" and then actually pay the bill with a bill (which is quite confusing) - not to mention the "tip" which should have been on the bill if they wanted it paid as well!! :-) So the word actually has quite a loose meaning - probably close to "single page document"

I think the Bill (payment)page should be merged into the Invoice page and a statement similar to the one on the Banknote page should be made in the first paragraph.

Pkearney 13:08, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

If you know that the money you are holding is based on loaning it isn't really confusing that you are in fact paying a bill with a bill. Lord Metroid 10:19, 13 August 2007 (UTC)


Some of the variations listed are not really variations of an invoice. An invoice is a formal request for payment. A timesheet is not a request for payment and a statement in my world actually a periodic summary of outstanding invoices. The point about the term "invoice" being an act of delivering baggage should be made under a disambiguation page - not in the variations section.

Some of the variations listed are correct, but they should make reference to alternative names used in other countries. For example the description of a "debit memo" seems similar to what I know as a "debit note" and a "self billing invoice" is what I know as a "recipient created invoice". I suspect much of the content on this page needs to be "internationalised" a little.

Pkearney 13:25, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Pkearney, do all you can to improve this article. If you're not sure how to deal with all the editing stuff yet, just do your writing as best you can, and I'll pitch in with suggestions as best I can. --SueHay 04:41, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, nothing is set in stone... if you can find some good sources and some better information then be bold. :) Thanks for pointing out the problems with the article... my accounting experience is from a "practical" standpoint and not academic. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 18:40, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I will do. Not tonight though. I have to muster the strength!! Pkearney 11:48, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

bill vs invoice[edit]

I have done a lot of document design work for banks and utilities and have come across this unfortunate vagueness many times. The following points are my opinion derived from my own personal and professional experiences (predominantly in Britain):

A bill is a request for payment. It does not necessarily include any transactional details. It may include aged debts from 30/60/90 days ago. In a restaurant you would receive the bill before departure. An electricity company might bill you monthly in arrears after reading your meter. A gas company might bill you quarterly in advance based on estimated use.

An invoice is a detailed list of goods which have been transferred from seller to buyer. It, in itself, is not a request for payment. A builder might have an account with his supplier such that he visits several times to buy goods and receives an invoice each time but is not expected to pay until after the merchant sends him a monthly bill (which would list the invoice numbers that it applies to). A company supplying unmeasurable things (such as an unmetered water supply) might not use invoices at all.

You will often be presented with a single document which includes both invoice and bill in which case it often seems referred to with either name. I believe this is where much of the confusion arises.

You can also get a single document combining both invoice(s) and statement.

I'm far from the expert you are, but in my experience invoices are often treated as bills by our vendors. If we don't pay on an invoice we get a pass-due notice and we are required to reference the invoice number when we send them our payments. Obviously I can only speak for my particular industry. Maybe things are treated more formally the closer you get to financial institutions? That might make an interesting study. (err... well, the results might be interesting... I imagine the study would be mind-numbing). ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 16:40, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Invoices are based on a transfer of property or the provision of services. The question of when payment is due is a matter of agreement between the parties involved. Monthly statements are common practice for expecting payment on multiple invoices, but if the invoice does not specify that the payment terms are based on a monthly statement, the payment terms stated on the invoice prevail (10, 15 or 30 days, usually). A monthly statement is a summary of the month's invoices which allows for one payment on all invoices for that month. This allows for a single check to be cut. It's a bit outdated these days, but the practice continues and is honored. -- • • • Blue Pixel 02:59, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

VAT Receipt[edit]

Can an invoice also be a VAT receipt? If so, what does it require to quality? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 12:23, August 22, 2007 (UTC)

VAT as in "Value added tax"? I'd think a receipt would be more a response to a payment and not a response to an order... but I can't think of a reason why there couldn't be a hybrid document. The article on invoices discusses the criteria for what qualifies as an invoice. If you are having some kind of legal/tax problem you might want to contact a qualified tax accountant. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 22:38, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Bill Payment Vs Invoice[edit]

This are inherently different. I would suggest to keep the articles separate for the following reasons:

1) The invoice article does a good job at explaining basic business accounting (Going from Purchase Order, to Open Sales Order (accounts payable) to Aging invoice (accounts receivable) to Invoice (profitable outcome in a P&L statement)). This section is different from consumer bill paying. I think it would be too difficult to merge an article noting the difference to consumer bill paying (like an electric bill), to company accounts receivables. The article would be difficult to structure and more than likely be too long and complex. The "Bill Payment" article needs to focus on the consumer end, the "invoice" needs to stick to the business accounts receivable end. 14:38, 27 September 2007 (UTC)bunmi

I think this would be correct also because if you merge these terms you'll lose the difference in semantics. Somebody mentioned that there is so called advance invoice (typically for long-term service) which may be treated as request for payment, i.e. bill. I suggest splitting Bill and Payment as well. I think Payment refers to transfer of funds itself, Bill refers to request of that transfer, and Invoice refers to transfer of goods or services (or future transfer), but in addition refers to corresponding transfer of funds. Using this interpretation we see that Invoice is more common term, rather than Bill is very specific. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:52, 23 January 2008