What is a pro forma invoice? They are a useful addition to the invoicing process, offering benefits such as helping you to get paid quicker and protection against non-payment scams. At the end of this article, we are offering a free pro forma invoice template to download in Microsoft Word and Excel.
What is a pro forma invoice?
A pro forma invoice is effectively a preliminary bill of sale that you send to a customer outlining your intent to deliver goods or services. It reduces the risk of exposing the customer to any unforeseen charges and offers room for manoeuvre in terms of negotiation.
“Essentially a step up from a quote, the pro forma is almost exactly the same as a standard invoice but is not legally binding. While quotes are casual and often amount to nothing, pro forma invoices indicate that the work will go ahead once the exact terms [of sale] have been negotiated,” explains TechRound.
Hit the link below the thumbnail to download our pro forma invoice template in Excel or Word format.
And when you’re ready to send a real invoice, do it faster and easier with Zervant.
When is a pro forma invoice issued?
There are three common reasons for creating pro forma invoices. The first is wanting to be paid in advance; the second is to declare a detailed cost estimate; and the third is when shipping internationally.
Payment in advance
The pro forma is a great invoicing tool for when you want to be paid in advance.
Pro forma invoices can accelerate the payment process by informing your customer in advance about how much they owe, giving them time to make any necessary arrangements.
Pro forma invoices can also help you to avoid getting stung by non-payment scams.
For example, if you have a brand-new customer and you are unsure about whether they are going to pay for your goods or services, or you don’t want to risk offering credit, then issuing a pro forma invoice is a great option.
When the goods or services are still being negotiated or a sale has yet to be finalised, a pro forma invoice can act as a good faith agreement. If necessary, its adjustable format allows for the alteration of goods and costs.
A pro forma invoice often includes shipping details, delivery fees, applicable taxes and shipping costs allowing them to also serve as a declaration of a shipment’s value to customs.
They are commonly used by the international shipping industry to ensure that shipments are delivered promptly and don’t result in any unexpected surcharges to your customer.
What should be included in a pro forma invoice?
There’s no official way a pro forma invoice should look or any specific requirements it should include. A free proforma invoice template is a good starting point for your business (see end of article) and then you can adapt if needed.
A pro forma invoice generally includes:
- Date of issue
- Contact information for both the buyer and the seller
- Description of goods or services and their agreed prices
- VAT and other applicable taxes
- Shipping costs (if any)
- Subtotal & deductions (if any)
- A total amount due
- Payment details
- Terms and conditions
Do not forget to properly label the invoice as ‘pro forma’ and do not include an invoice number. Further, a payment due date and exact date of delivery are also not required.
Note: State for how long the pro forma invoice is valid, especially when providing goods or services where the price can fluctuate.
Pro forma invoices and VAT
According to HMRC, you cannot reclaim VAT using an invalid invoice, a pro forma invoice, statement or delivery note.
Even if a pro forma includes all of the details required for a VAT invoice, your customer must also receive a full, finalised VAT invoice to reclaim tax. It is advised to clearly include ‘This is not a VAT invoice’ on a pro forma.
In addition, a pro forma invoice cannot be used for bookkeeping.
Advantages of pro forma invoices
When it comes to pro forma invoices, there are several advantages, according to TechRound and Handepay:
- They are not legally binding
- They perform as a stand-in when lacking details needed for a commercial invoice
- You don’t have to pay a pro forma invoice
- They help to prevent ‘scope creep’ by defining what is covered by your fee
- They don’t need to be cancelled
- Many businesses request pro forma invoices for their internal purchasing approval process.
We hope that the free download and introduction to pro forma invoices have proved to be useful. If you have any further questions, please get in touch and we can help!