In very simple terms invoices or receipts tell a customer what they have bought from you and whether it has been paid for or is still to be paid.

What must you include on your invoice?

Once registered for VAT, you must show the following details on any VAT invoice you issue:

  • a sequential number which uniquely identifies the document
  • the time of the supply (tax point)
  • the date of issue of the document (where different to the time of supply)
  • your name, address and VAT registration number – you may issue invoices under a trading name, but your legal name and address details must still be shown somewhere on the document
  • the name and address of the person (customer) to whom the goods or services have been supplied
  • a description sufficient to identify the goods or services supplied
  • for each description, the quantity of the goods or the extent of the services, and the rate of VAT and the amount payable, excluding VAT, expressed in any currency
  • the gross total amount payable, excluding VAT, expressed in any currency
  • the rate of any cash discount offered
  • the total amount of VAT chargeable, expressed in sterling
  • the unit price
  • the reason for any zero rate or exemption

Although not specifically required by HMRC the document should clearly identify itself as an Invoice or VAT Invoice and if it is not a VAT invoice – a proforma for example – then it must clearly state that the document is NOT a VAT invoice, by stating  ‘THIS IS NOT A VAT INVOICE’.

When must you raise a VAT invoice?

Usually at the time of supply:

  • Goods – either the date that your customer takes the goods away or the date you make them available if you delivered them or built them on-site.
  • Services –  the date when the service is performed. It is normally taken as the date when all the work except invoicing is completed. If you deliver services on an ongoing monthly basis, you would have a tax point for each month of servicing delivered.

Tax Points

Are usually created by the issue of the invoice and is usually the time of supply, unless:

  • The VAT invoice issued 15 days or more after the date of supply in which case the tax point is the date the supply took place
  • Payment or invoice issued in advance of supply, in which case the tax point is the date of payment or invoice (whichever is earlier)
  • Payment in advance of supply and no VAT invoice yet issued, in which case the tax point is the date payment was received


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