There is no universal format for an invoice, and they differ in relation to a variety of things such industries, processes and many other variables. For example, an invoice related to transportation might not be formatted the same way or used in the same sense as a retail invoice. This is because invoices depend on whether they are for services rendered on the basis of time, hourly or daily basis, or if they are made out products bought or sold. On the basis of these different demands by different industries and also for different products and services, invoices can be of several types:


Proforma Invoice:


The business dictionary describes An abridged or estimated invoice sent by a seller to a buyer in advance of a shipment or delivery of goods. It notes the kind and quantity of goods, their value, and other important information such as weight and transportation charges. Pro forma invoices are commonly used as preliminary invoices with a quotation, or for customs purposes in importation. They differ from a normal invoice in not being a demand or request for payment.

Pro forma invoices are used if you need to produce a document to a customer for products or services that you are yet to deliver. Pro forma invoices are typically sent in order to declare the value of goods for customs.


Commercial Invoice:


A commercial invoice form is used for all shipments containing non-documents. The commercial invoice is the primary document used for importation control, valuation, and duty determination. This document identifies the products being shipped, and is a customs document when used in foreign trade, or when exporting an item across international borders. A commercial invoice must often include a statement certifying that the invoice is true, and a signature.

The form should include:

  • Complete name and address information for both shipper and consignee
  • Phone numbers for both shipper and consignee
  • Terms of Sale (Incoterm)
  • Reason for export
  • A complete description of the item
  • What is the item?
  • What is the item used for?
  • Harmonized Tariff Codes, if known
  • Country or territory of origin (where manufactured) for each commodity
  • Number of units, unit value, and total value (purchase price) of each item
  • Number of packages and total weight
  • Shipper’s signature and date


Credit Note (Memo):


A credit memorandum or memo is a form or document, sometimes called a credit memo invoice, that informs a buyer that the seller will be decreasing or crediting the amount that the buyer owes in accounts payable, thus decreasing the amount of accounts receivable in the seller’s account.


A credit memo is often issued when a seller has made some sort of mistake, or something requires an adjustment towards a sale. Credit memos from a bank are usually in regard that a bank if reversing some sort of transaction in which the bank made a payment it should not have, or the bank may have made a collection upon a note receivable or a certificate of deposit. When the latter occurs the bank will transfer the collection of funds into the depositor’s account.


Debit Memo:


A debit memo is a form or document that informs a buyer that the seller is debiting or increasing its amount in the accounts receivable, thus increasing the amount of the buyer’s accounts payable due to extenuating circumstances.


A debit memo is often issued when a seller has not billed or charged enough to the buyer, or it might come from another error or any other factor requiring an adjustment. When a seller issues a debit memo, it is normally required that the seller give specific details why the current memo is being issued.


Timesheet Invoice:


Timesheet invoice template is a blend of an invoice as well as timesheet template in which it records day and time spent on a particular project in addition to the name and the description of the project which is then used to calculate the amount the client will have to pay for the officers who have worked on the project as per their hours spent.


Self-billing invoice:


Self-billing is a procurement model where accounts payable and purchasing “close the loop”. Normally, the procurement loop begins when purchasing creates a purchase order – proof of their commitment to pay for certain goods or services. The next step is the creation of a goods receipt upon physical receipt of the good or service. After that, accounts payable waits to receive an invoice, matches it with the purchase order and goods receipt and then finally pays the supplier. But what if both accounts payable and purchasing agree? Why wait for an invoice to pay your supplier? With self billing, a buyer in effect issues an invoice to himself. The buyer treats the created invoice as an account payable, and the seller treats it as an account receivable.


Recurring Invoice:


A recurring invoice is fairly self explanatory, and is usually set up as an automation feature that is scheduled on a month to month timeframe. In order for a company to use recurring invoicing, they first have to get permission from the customer to be charged on a regular basis for a regular amount. The charges will continue until an agreed-upon termination date or when the customer withdraws permission. Chances are, you have been engaged in a recurring invoice at some point in your life. The prime examples include but are not limited to online software businesses, cable companies, cell phone bills, utilities, gym membership and magazine subscriptions.


The positives to this type of invoicing are obviously the convenience of not having to request individual invoices on a monthly basis. That being said, there is potential for recurring invoices to cause more problems than they solve as well. For example, if there is an error in the process, it is not always found initially as the receiver often becomes used to the repetitive nature of the invoice as well as the content within. Another way recurring invoicing can cause headaches is since they are automatic payments, if there is an error, there are multiple steps that have to be taken to get funds back compared to a one time invoice that you look at more in depth.


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