How to Prepare Commercial Invoices

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Proper preparation of commercial invoices makes it more likely your business will be paid for its products or services on time. A thorough approach to billing can also help you maintain better records and keep your budgeting on track.

Create a Standardized Form

Create a commercial invoice template that includes categories for all relevant information. The fillable form should include your company’s letterhead or logo and contact information, including phone and fax numbers and email and website addresses. Include spots to fill in the date of order and the invoice date, a salesperson’s name or code number and your contractor’s license number or tax ID, if applicable. Create columns that allow you to fill in quantities, descriptions and prices for the items sold and a line item for adding sales tax and calculating a total. Leave a space for notes.

Be Specific

When itemizing the services or items sold, be specific. Include part numbers, reference codes or descriptions that make it clear to you and your buyer what the invoice is referencing. Break down hourly work, and include descriptions of services performed. This helps you track inventory and work product and allows the customer to see a detailed list of what he’s being charged for. In the case of a dispute, the invoice can clear up misunderstandings and help you avoid payment delays. If a purchase order number or authorization code from the buyer was involved in the transaction, include this as well.

Go Online

Create an electronic version of your commercial invoice to make the billing processes faster and more efficient. Invoices that are electronically generated and sent via email can also be effectively tracked, especially if you request a “read receipt” to track when the recipient received and opened the document. This avoids potential claims of an invoice getting lost in the mail. If you issue paper invoices, include a postage-paid envelope to encourage prompt payment.

Provide Payment Options

Note on the invoice when the payment is due, and list penalties or charges for late payments. Include directions for how the invoice can be paid, such as online options, corporate check, cashier’s check, money order or corporate credit card. Provide the direct number to your accounting department in the event a customer wants to make a payment in the form of a bank transfer or debit card by phone.