Partial invoice, final invoice, return credit note – we know them all. But a pro forma invoice is much less common. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. Because many companies have more and more customers in non-EU countries. And for them, the pro forma invoice is needed – at least sometimes.

Difference from a conventional invoice

Although the pro forma invoice has the word “invoice” in its word, it is actually not an invoice. There is a huge difference between a pro forma invoice and a conventional invoice: you do not ask your customer to pay for goods or services.

The pro forma invoice is only a document for goods delivered to the customer or interested party. Therefore, it should not be confused with a commercial invoice or export invoice. This is because the latter is issued only for goods with commercial value.

What is a pro forma used for?

So, you write a pro forma invoice when you want to ship goods with no commercial value. This includes for example:

  • Sample deliveries
  • Gift items
  • Replacement deliveries or warranty cases
  • Donations
  • Goods that are not to be resold
  • Deliveries against prepayment

It serves primarily as proof for customs to prove the value of the goods.

Proformarechnung Vorlage
Proformarechnung Vorlage

Data on a pro forma invoice

However, this does not mean that there are no formal requirements for the pro forma invoice. On the contrary, it must have the same contents as a commercial invoice:

  • Designation of the document with pro forma invoice or (pro forma invoice)
  • Your name and address plus other contact information
  • Contact details of the recipient, specific contact person with telephone and fax number
  • Delivery address; can be omitted if this is identical to the billing address
  • Invoice number, place of issue and endorsement; depending on the intended use, different endorsements are possible. In the case of a sample delivery, for example, “Sample delivery – value for customs purposes only”.Liefer- und Leistungsdatum
  • Description of the goods and quantity
  • Single and total price
  • Your VAT number
  • Commercial register number and EORI number
  • Packaging, insurance and transport costs
  • Delivery conditions

Beware of false statements

With this abundance of mandatory information, it’s easy to get the idea that the pro forma invoice can be converted into a traditional invoice with a few quick clicks.

But unfortunately, this is not possible either. Because a pro forma invoice must never become a real invoice. This is something you absolutely must keep in mind when issuing this type of document.

If you violate this regulation, it can cost you dearly. You could face not only a fine, but also criminal penalties. If the worst comes to the worst, you may even have to pay a debt to customs.

Better safe than sorry: Create pro forma invoice with easybill

There are clearly far too many things to consider when it comes to pro forma invoicing? At the same time, the risk is too great that if you make a mistake, you will not only not be able to account for the goods, but also get into trouble with customs and tax.

Then don’t even take the risk! Rely on the service and offer of easybill. With our invoice program, you can easily create pro forma invoices and contact our customer service at any time if you have any questions.


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