A pro forma order or invoice refers to a document that does not represent an actual order, but is presented beforehand, according to BusinessDictionary.com. Pro forma is a Latin term meaning "in the form of."
A pro forma order gives the buyer necessary information, and a price quotation, in advance of an order. It is used to state the value and terms of the trade. The seller should state the validity period for the price quoted, according to the Wyoming Small Business Development Center.
Although pro forma invoices are not required for trade within the U.S., they may be necessary for a vendor selling to a foreign buyer, who can then use the document to obtain credit through his bank, to make the purchase. The bank may require a pro forma invoice.
Besides the price quotation in the currency of the seller, a pro forma invoice should list the seller's and buyer's names and addresses and say "pro forma invoice." The document should also include the date of quotation, estimated weight and cube space, and indicate that costs are estimated. Although shipping and handling estimates should be included, the document should state that the buyer pays these costs.