When invoicing foreign countries there are often local rules and regulations required in order to accept and settle invoices.
To avoid invoice disputes, delayed payments and having to outsource to an international debt collection agency we recommend the following:
- Correct contact details
With foreign languages there are specific spellings, speech marks and different letters which can alter a word and meaning. It is very important that the details written in the invoice are correct and/or have an English translation.
- Purchase Order Numbers
Many UK and International companies rely on a purchase order number to process an invoice so ensure that this is clearly displayed and identified
- Full contact details
Ensure your invoice includes all contact details including full company name and address, plus the name of any individual(s) that may be needed to process the payment
- Identification numbers
It is very important that your GB VAT number is entered on the invoice as without this the invoices will NOT be processed and can lead to delays and disputes down the line. Also make sure that any other identification numbers required by the client are included.
- Method of sending invoices
Many overseas companies have specific methods and processing invoices and as such require the method of receipt to be met. If an invoices has to be emailed make sure you send to the correct email address and that there are no spelling mistakes with this address as the email may get returned unread or sent to a spam folder or even worse deleted. Always ask for a with read receipt when sending an email to ensure it has been received and opened.
- Full and clear description
An invoice has to identify what you are charging for and with many international clients there are language problems which can lead to misunderstandings. Therefore be clear and precise with your invoice description ensuring you have detailed exactly what it is you have invoiced for.
Many invoices require additional documents to support the charges including signed delivery notes. We recommend that all relevant documents be scanned and attached to invoices when initially emailed. This also provides you with a paper trail if a dispute is raised at a later date.
- Payment Terms
Prior to invoicing or even trading with an international client it is important that you provide clear and agreed payment terms. This will avoid delays with receiving payments and fully support any actions you may have to take if payment is not received with in your stated terms.
- Credit Control
Once an invoice has been issued it is very important to follow set procedures to ensure payment is received on time. We recommend that if your payment terms are 30 days net of invoice date then you send a gentle email reminder 7/14 days prior to the due date informing client when the payment is due. A statement should then be sent 5/7 days prior to due date to re-enforce this.
- Late Payment
If payment is not received by the due date your credit control must again have a strict and set routine to follow this up. We suggest that a gentle reminder is sent within 2/3 days passed the due date advising of this oversight. If still not paid then a phone call should be made straight away requesting if any reasons for non payment. Finally if still no payment we recommend a final pre debt collection email is sent. See our pre debt collection process.
If you still do not get payment then we strongly recommend you do outsource to an international debt collection agency
Implementing the above will reduce the need to instruct and international debt collection agency and improve cashflow.
For further details and assistance regarding international invoices please contact us on
T: 0121 442 4330 / email: email@example.com