See also Voucher: an invoice is within the European union primarily legally defined by the EU VAT directive as an accounting voucher (to verify tax and VAT reporting) and secondly as a Civil law (common law) document.

An invoice, bill or tab is a commercial document issued by a seller to a buyer, relating to a sale transaction and indicating the products, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services the seller had provided the buyer.

Payment terms are usually stated on the invoice. These may specify that the buyer has a maximum number of days in which to pay and is sometimes offered a discount if paid before the due date. The buyer could have already paid for the products or services listed on the invoice.

In the rental industry, an invoice must include a specific reference to the duration of the time being billed.[citation needed] So in addition to quantity, price, and discount, the invoice amount is also based on duration. Generally, each line of a rental invoice will refer to the actual hours, days, weeks, months, etc., being billed.

From the point of view of a seller, an invoice is a sales invoice. From the point of view of a buyer, an invoice is a purchase invoice. The document indicates the buyer and seller, but the term invoice indicates money is owed or owing.


Company Name
123 Fake Street

Invoice No
Description Amount Owed:
Invoice Total [Currency]

A typical invoice may contain:[1][2]

  • The word invoice (or tax invoice);
  • A unique reference number (in case of correspondence about the invoice);
  • Date of the invoice;
  • Credit terms;[3]
  • Tax payments, if relevant (e.g., GST or VAT);
  • Name and contact details of the seller;
  • Tax or company registration details of seller, if relevant e.g. ABN for Australian businesses or VAT number for businesses in the EU;
  • Name and contact details of the buyer;
  • Date that the goods or service was sent or delivered;
  • Purchase order number (or similar tracking numbers requested by the buyer 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 for late payment);

In countries where wire transfer is the preferred method of settling debts, the printed bill will contain the bank account number of the creditor and usually a reference code to be passed along the transaction identifying the payer.

The US Defense Logistics Agency requires an employer identification number on invoices.[4]

The European Union requires a VAT (value added tax) identification number.

In Canada, the registration number for GST purposes must be furnished for all supplies over $30 made by a registered supplier in order to claim input tax credits.[5]

Recommendations about invoices used in international trade are also provided by the UNECE Committee on Trade, which involves a more detailed description of the logistics aspect of merchandise and therefore may be convenient for international logistics and customs procedures.[6]

European Union

EU VAT union invoice definition

Within the European Union Value Added Tax directive,[7] Article 226 is a concise definition of invoices within the union member states.

Without prejudice to the particular provisions laid down in this Directive, only the following details are required for VAT purposes on invoices issued pursuant to Articles 220 and 221:

  • (1) the date of issue;
  • (2) a sequential number, based on one or more series, which uniquely identifies the invoice;
  • (3) the VAT identification number referred to in Article 214 under which the taxable person supplied the goods or services;
  • (4) the customer's VAT identification number, as referred to in Article 214, under which the customer received a supply of goods or services in respect of which he is liable for payment of VAT, or received a supply of goods as referred to in Article 138;
  • (5) the full name and address of the taxable person and of the customer;
  • (6) the quantity and nature of the goods supplied or the extent and nature of the services rendered;
  • (7) the date on which the supply of goods or services was made or completed or the date on which the payment on account referred to in points (4) and (5) of Article 220 was made, in so far as that date can be determined and differs from the date of issue of the invoice;
  • (7a) where the VAT becomes chargeable at the time when the payment is received in accordance with Article 66(b) and the right of deduction arises at the time the deductible tax becomes chargeable, the mention ‘cash accounting’;
  • (8) the taxable amount per rate or exemption, the unit price exclusive of VAT and any discounts or rebates if they are not included in the unit price;
  • (9) the VAT rate applied;
  • (10) the VAT amount payable, except where a special arrangement is applied under which, in accordance with this Directive, such a detail is excluded;
  • (10a) where the customer receiving the supply issues the invoice (instead of the supplier) the mention ‘self-billing’;
  • (11) in the case of an exemption, reference to the applicable provision of this Directive, or to the corresponding national provision, or any other reference indicating that the supply of goods or services is exempt;
  • (11a) where the customer is liable for the payment of the VAT, the mention ‘reverse charge’;
  • (12) in the case of the supply of a new means of transport made in accordance with the conditions specified in Article 138(1) and (2)(a), the characteristics as identified in point (b) of Article 2(2);
  • (13) where the margin scheme for travel agents is applied, the mention ‘margin scheme — travel agents’;
  • (14) where one of the special arrangements applicable to second-hand goods, works of art, collectors’ items and antiques is applied, the mention ‘margin scheme — second-hand goods’; ‘margin scheme — works of art’ or ‘margin scheme — collector’s items and antiques’ respectively;
  • (15) where the person liable for payment of VAT is a tax representative for the purposes of Article 204, the (VAT identification number, referred to in Article 214, of that tax representative, together with his full name and address.

EU VAT union receipt (simple invoice) definition

Article 226b of the EU VAT Directive is a concise definition of receipts within the union member states.

As regards simplified invoices issued pursuant to Article 220a and Article 221(1) and (2), Member States shall require at least the following details:

  • (a) the date of issue;
  • (b) identification of the taxable person supplying the goods or services (VAT identification number);
  • (c) identification of the type of goods or services supplied;
  • (d) the VAT amount payable or the information needed to calculate it;
  • (e) where the invoice issued is a document or message treated as an invoice pursuant to Article 219, specific and unambiguous reference to that initial invoice and the specific details which are being amended.

They may not require details on invoices other than those referred to in Articles 226, 227 and 230.

Australian Tax Office Tax invoice definition

Details about the Australian Tax Office (ATO) requirements for a tax invoice can be found on their website.[8][9]

For all GST purposes, a seller must issue a tax invoice to the buyer regardless the sale being in cash or credit. Hence, a tax invoice in Australia serves as an invoice as well as a receipt in the conventional sense. The words 'paid' or 'payable' will differentiate meaning. The tax invoice must contain seven facts as per the GST Tax Law.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Faktuur
العربية: فاتورة
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Інвойс
български: Фактура
català: Factura
čeština: Faktura
dansk: Faktura
Deutsch: Rechnung
eesti: Arve
español: Factura
Esperanto: Fakturo
euskara: Faktura
한국어: 송장
हिन्दी: चालान
Ido: Fakturo
Bahasa Indonesia: Tagihan
italiano: Fattura
עברית: חשבונית
Bahasa Melayu: Invois
Nederlands: Factuur
日本語: 送り状
norsk: Faktura
português: Fatura
română: Factură
русский: Инвойс
Simple English: Invoice
slovenčina: Faktúra (účet)
српски / srpski: Фактура
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Faktura (račun)
suomi: Lasku
svenska: Faktura
Türkçe: Fatura
Tiếng Việt: Hóa đơn
中文: 发票