Writing an invoice in 5 steps

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 and Customs Administration imposes a number of requirements on invoices. You have to comply, otherwise you and your customer cannot offset the VAT. These 5 steps will help you write invoices that meet all requirements.
  1. What to include on your invoice
  2. Make sure your invoice has a clear layout
  3. Send your invoice right after finishing the job
  4. Make sure you are paid quickly
  5. Save your invoices for at least 7 years

1. What to include on your invoice

The following must be stated on your invoice:

  • Your VAT identification number and the VAT amount;
  • Your KVK number (from your registration in the Commercial trade Register);
  • The invoice date and number (your invoices must be consecutively numbered);
  • The delivery date;
  • Your name and address and that of your customer;
  • The goods or services you supplied;
  • How many goods or hours you charge.

You can find all the invoice requirements on the website of the Tax and Customs Administration.

Simplified invoice

Is the invoice amount, including VAT, less than €100? Then you can write a 'simplified' invoice (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 since May 2018. 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. Use these 10 questions to determine which actions will help you be 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 KVK (pdf, in Dutch) helps you create your own invoice format.

This is how you write an invoice: sample invoice with mandatory elements(Source: KVK Startersmagazine)

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 and Customs 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.

Creating and sending invoices online

You should preferably send an electronic invoice (e-invoice) to your customers. E-invoicing is not simply sending a scanned invoice, but a digital invoice in XML format. Through e-invoicing, your invoice is always sent via a secure server and always correctly received. The data required on an e-invoice is in a fixed place with its own coding. This makes it possible to automatically process e-invoices in your records and in your customer's administration.

Is e-invoicing mandatory?

Entrepreneurs who do business with the central government are obliged to send e-invoices. Municipalities, provinces, and water boards are also able to receive e-invoices. Are you participating in a tender? Then e-invoicing is often mandatory.

Ways to send e-invoices

There are various ways to send e-invoices to local authorities such as water boards, municipalities, and provinces:

  • Through the secured network Peppol. Check with the Netherlands Peppol Authority how to use Peppol.
  • Through an email with an XML attachment. This is the e-invoice that your accounting software creates.
  • Manually via an online portal of an ICT service provider, if you do not use an electronic accounting programme.

5. 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, a period of 10 years applies. The Tax and Customs 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.

Do you have a question about financing or money? Contact the KVK Financing Desk by telephone free of charge: 0800 10 14 (in Dutch).