Best invoicing practices for entrepreneurs in the EU

A) How to store your issued invoices

If your business is VAT-liable you shall ensure the storage of the invoices issued by your business. The country where your business is registered determines the period for which taxable persons/VAT-liable businesses carrying out operations on their territories are subject to this obligation to store. 

To store your invoices keep the following in mind:

  • Storage may be carried out at any place and on any medium, on the sole condition that the taxable person/VAT-liable business can access all the information stored at any time without delay.
  • The integrity and readability of the data needs to be guaranteed throughout the storage period.
  • Every invoice transmitted by electronic means shall also be stored, together with its advanced electronic signature, by electronic means.
  • Keep copies of all the sales invoices you issue even if you cancel them or produce one by mistake.
  • All credit notes are to be treated as invoices and must comply with the same conditions.


B) Are you required to issue invoices?

Under EU regulations, an invoice is required:

  • In most business-to-business (B2B) transactions and in some business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. There may also be specific national rules about which transactions require an invoice.
  • In a B2B scenario, invoices are usually required when goods or services are supplied to another business or legal entity (such as an association or authority). However, there are some exceptions to this rule.


C) What should always be included in the invoice?

  • Your business full name and address (it is considered good practice to also include your business ID and VAT number)
  • The customer’s full name and address
  • Total amount payable
  • Payment details
  • A description of the quantity and type of goods supplied, OR the type and extent of services rendered
  • The unit price of goods or services (This does not include taxes, discounts, or rebates unless these are part of the unit price)
  • The transaction and payment dates (if these are different from the invoicing date).
    The VAT rate applied
  • The VAT amount payable
  • A breakdown of VAT amount payable by VAT rate or exemption
  • The foreign currency rate (if an alternative to the supplier’s national currency is used)
  • Sequential invoice number


In some cases, a simplified invoice can be issued. It must contain the following information:

  • The date of issue
  • The supplier’s VAT identification number
  • The type of goods or services supplied
  • The VAT amount payable (or information on how to calculate it)
  • Where applicable, a specific, unambiguous reference to the initial invoice and the details that are being amended (on a credit note, debit note or other document treated as an invoice)

The above points cover only the minimum information required. Providing additional information on an invoice is also possible.

Here are some fields commonly added to an invoice: 

  • Reference number: To match the invoice to the receivable on your bank statement
  • An order number: Usually requested by the buyer in order to be able to convey the invoice to the right department for approval and to match the invoice to the original order; (Can also be named purchase order, PO number or department number)
  • Recipient name / department name that approves the invoice
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