Mandatory information in an invoice: everything you need to know!

The invoice complies with a number of obligations.

What is the required information? What sanctions should be imposed on violators?

Latest news from the official website of "Ministère de l'économie"


I- Changes effective October 1, 2019: As of October 1, 2019, two new statements must appear on invoices II- Invoices: mandatory information III- Invoices: special information IV- Electronic Invoices V- Invoices: storage periods

I- Changes effective October 1, 2019

As of October 1, 2019, two new statements must appear on invoices: 1. The invoicing address if it is different from the delivery address. 2. The number of the purchase order if it has been previously issued by the buyer. Penalties for breaches of invoicing rules are reinforced by the introduction of a fine of an administrative nature.

The form of the invoice

An invoice is a detailed note of services provided or goods sold. It must meet a number of requirements regarding form: 1. Written in French. 2. Issued in 2 copies, including the one originally issued to the client. 3. Contain a number of details as indicated below.

Invoices in a foreign currency and language

A company established in France may also, under certain conditions,

- invoice in a foreign currency provided that the foreign currency is internationally recognized and convertible (dollar or pound sterling for example) and that the incorporation into the company's accounts is made in euros

- write the invoice in a foreign language (in this case, the Administration may require a translation certified by a sworn translator for checking).

II- Invoices: mandatory information

1. The date of the invoice: Date on which the invoice is issued.

2. The invoice number: A unique number for each invoice based on a chronological and continuous sequence, without a " space ", an invoice cannot be deleted. The numbering may be done in separate series (e. g. with a prefix per year), if justified by the operating conditions.

3. The date of the sale or provision of the service.

4. The date on which the delivery of the goods or the provision of services is carried out (or completed).

5. The identity of the seller or service provider: Company name (or surname and first name for an individual entrepreneur), address of the registered office, invoicing address (if different), Siren or Siret number, NAF code, legal form and share capital (for companies), RCS number and city of the registration office (for traders), number in the trades register and registration department (for craftsmen).

6. The identity of the buyer or customer: Company name (or name for an individual), customer's address (unless opposed for an individual), billing address if different, delivery address.

7. Purchase order number: When it has been previously established by the buyer.

8. VAT identification number: VAT identification number of the seller and the professional customer (only the latter is liable for VAT). These statements are not mandatory for invoices with an amount less than or equal to 150 € excluding tax.

9. The designation and accounting of products and services rendered.

- Nature, brand, product reference. Materials provided and labour for the services.

- Precise description, quantity, unit price excluding tax and VAT added rate, discounts and other possible discounts.

10. The catalogue prices: Unit price excluding VAT on products sold or hourly rate excluding VAT on services provided.

11. The legally applicable VAT rate: Especially if different VAT rates apply, they must be clearly indicated by lines.

12. Price reduction: Discount, rebate, discount, remission on the date of sale or provision of service, excluding discount transactions not provided for on the invoice.

13. Total amount payable excluding tax (excluding VAT) and all taxes included (including VAT).

14. About the payment: The date or deadline for payment, the penalty rates in the event of non-payment on the payment date indicated on the invoice and the amount of the fixed compensation for recovery costs in the event of late payment (40 €).

III- Invoices: special information

Other information must be indicated on the invoice in the following special cases: 1. The seller or service provider is a member of an approved management centre or association (centre de gestion ou d'une association agréée) Add the mention: « Membre d'une association agréée, le règlement par chèque et par carte bancaire est accepté ».

2. The seller has a VAT-free regime: Add the words « TVA non applicable, art. 293 B du Code général des impôts ».

3. The subcontractor no longer declares VAT; it is the main company that declares it (VAT reversal). Mention « auto-liquidation de la TVA ». Indicate that this is an "amount excluding tax".

4. Craftsmen or micro-entrepreneurs engaged in a craft activity for which professional insurance is compulsory. Acknowledgement of the insurance taken out for the activity.

IV- Electronic invoices

The invoice may be issued electronically provided that the buyer has formally accepted it.

The content of an electronic invoice must correspond to that of a paper invoice containing strictly the same mandatory information.

In the context of public procurement, electronic invoicing is mandatory for large companies and SMEs, and will shortly be mandatory for Small businesses as from 1 January 2020.

Companies that do not comply with the invoicing rules are liable to a tax fine of €15 for each missing or inaccurate statement. However, the amount of the fine may not exceed one quarter of the amount of the invoice.

As of 1 October 2019, any failure to comply with the obligation to invoice between professionals will be punishable by an administrative fine.

The fines incurred will range from €75,000 for an individual person and €375,000 for a legal entity.

This fine may be doubled if the fault is repeated within 2 years of the first sanction.

V- Invoices: storage periods

Invoices must be kept for 10 years as accounting documents. They can be kept in paper or electronic format.

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