Am I obliged to provide my customers with a delivery note? The answer is no. And yet, the delivery note is an important document for retailers and online store operators in their business relationships. There are no legal requirements to create delivery notes, nor are there any legally prescribed rules for content and form. And yet, virtually all companies use the delivery note as a document accompanying goods, also known as a goods accompanying bill or goods accompanying letter. It can be used on delivery to check the volume and type of goods ordered and to ensure that the quantity, quality and type of goods delivered actually correspond to the service ordered. Furthermore, it can help to store the goods in the right place. In addition, the delivery note offers the possibility to provide the recipient with additional information, for example technical data or special features of the goods.
Is there any mandatory information?
Although there is no mandatory information on the contents of the document, the following information, among others, has proven useful in simplifying business processes for both the shipper and the recipient:
- Names of supplier and recipient
- Delivery address of the recipient
- Order number/Order name
- Date of order and delivery
- Quantity and designation of individual goods
- Weight or unit prices, if applicable
- Composition and number of packages, if necessary
- Information on commissions, if applicable
- Possible additional deliveries
The sequential numbering necessary?
There are no legal requirements, too, but sequential numbering has proven its worth in everyday business, as this ensures greater transparency within accounting and document management. If the number of the corresponding invoice is also noted on the delivery note and vice versa, this makes it much easier for both the sender and the recipient to allocate documents.
Is there an obligation to retain delivery notes?
Be careful when disposing of delivery notes! Even if there are no legal regulations to this extent, only delivery notes that do not represent accounting documents may be disposed of. What exactly does this mean? As soon as the delivery note becomes an accounting document in the business processes, retention periods of 6 or even 10 years apply. In this context, please note the regulations from the German Fiscal Code (AO) § 147 for the retention of documents:
- If it is a simple delivery note, no information on payment is included. With the information about the delivered goods, the order date and the delivery date, the simple delivery note counts as a commercial letter. Documents of this type have a retention period of six years in accordance with § 147 AO.
- If the delivery note contains the request for payment in addition to the information on the delivery, it is to be regarded as an invoice. In this case it does not belong to the commercial letters according to § 147 AO. A retention period of ten years applies to invoices.
Digitalization and archiving of delivery notes through easybill
With the right delivery note software from easybill, the legal obligation to retain documents is no problem, because all your documents are neatly archived and can be retrieved at any time. This not only saves you the time for time-consuming and tedious filing, but you can also use the paperless, digitized filing system to access the documents at any time or during an audit without worry.