Writing an invoice

Your job is done, so it is time to send your customer an invoice. But what do you include on an invoice? And how do you ensure that your customer pays quickly? The Tax Administration imposes a number of requirements on invoices. You have to comply, otherwise you and your customer cannot offset the VAT. These steps will help you write invoices that meet all the requirements.

Invoice is another word for bill. You often make a quotation first. In it, you agree what work you will do and when, and what it will cost the customer. So the amount of the invoice is not a surprise.

1. What to include on your invoice

The following must be stated on your invoice:

  • Your VAT identification number and the VAT rate that is applied;
  • The total amount due, excluding and including VAT;
  • Your KVK number (from your registration in the Business Register);
  • The invoice date and number (your invoices must be consecutively numbered);
  • The delivery date;
  • Your name and address and that of your customer;
  • A description of the goods or services you supplied;
  • How many goods or hours you charge for.

You can find all the invoice requirements on the website of the Belastingdienst (Tax Administration).

Tip: are you making use of the Small Businesses Scheme (KOR)? You do not have to send an invoice but you can. If you do, do not include a VAT percentage or VAT amount. You can explain this by stating that you are exempt from VAT. Your invoice does not have to comply with the invoicing requirements.

Simplified invoice

Is the invoice amount, including VAT, less than €100? Then you can write a 'simplified' invoice (Belastingdienst, in Dutch), with at least the following information:

  • The date you sent the invoice.
  • Your name and address details.
  • Which goods or services you have supplied.
  • The VAT amount.

Your invoice and the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the privacy law that applies for all entrepreneurs. Anyone who works with personal data must comply with the GDPR. You have to be able to prove exactly what you use (potential) customer data for and how long you store the data. You also store personal data in your records. For example, when you process customer information to draw up an invoice, that already falls under the GDPR. Find out how to make your business GDPR-proof and avoid any fines.

2. Make sure your invoice has a clear layout

An invoice must look clear and well-organised. Your logo and company name need to stand out immediately. At a glance, your customer can see the amount to be paid, the payment term, and your bank account details or payment link. If you invest in the format and layout of your invoice from the start, this will save you time later on. This invoice example from the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK (pdf) helps you create your own invoice format.

3. Send your invoice right after finishing the job

Send the invoice to your customer as soon as possible after finishing the job. Your work or delivery will still be fresh in their memories. In any event, send your invoice before the 15th day of the month following the month you delivered your product or service. This is called the issue date and is determined by the Tax Administration.

Example: You completed your assignment on 5 August. Then the invoice must be sent before 15 September.

Clearly state when the invoice must be paid. You can do this in advance in your quotation and general terms and conditions. You can offer various payment options: payment in advance, immediately on delivery, or within a payment term. State the payment term clearly in your invoice.

There are entrepreneurs who offer customers a discount if they pay the invoice immediately. You can also use factoring or a debt collection contract, if necessary.

4. Save your invoices for at least 7 years

You may scan invoices and receipts and save them digitally. The legal storage period is 7 years. For immovable goods, such as a property, a period of 10 years applies. The Tax Administration finds it important that you are able to hand over your records within a reasonable time period. Use a system that suits your business. You must always keep a (digital) copy of the invoices you send.

5. Digital or paper invoice?

It is up to you whether you send your invoices on paper or digitally. If you use accounting software, digital invoices are the easiest. Such a digital invoice is called an e-invoice. With e-invoicing, you send your invoice via a secure server and you can be sure that your customer receives it properly. All mandatory details are in a fixed place on the invoice, with their own code. That is why you can process e-invoices automatically in your records.

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