What you need to know about payment certificates in France

  1. Introduction
  2. What are payment certificates and what are they used for?
  3. What’s the difference between a payment certificate and an invoice?
  4. What’s the difference between a payment certificate and a receipt?
  5. What information should be included in a payment certificate?
  6. Where can you find a payment certificate template?

You operate in France and your customer has asked you to issue a payment certificate. What should you do? What are payment certificates? Is there a payment certificate template to follow? In this article, you'll find what you need to know about payment certificates as a business or association in France, including how they differ from invoices and receipts, and the information to include.

What's in this article?

  • What are payment certificates and what are they used for?
  • What's the difference between a payment certificate and an invoice?
  • What's the difference between a payment certificate and a receipt?
  • What information should be included in a payment certificate?
  • Where can you find a payment certificate template?

What are payment certificates and what are they used for?

A payment certificate is a document that is used in France to certify payment for services, the delivery of goods, or the receipt of social security contributions or membership fees. The document is dated and signed by a business representative (often the director or treasurer).

Issued at a customer's request, payment certificates are not a systematic step in the invoicing process. However, they are useful for partial payments, down payments or payments of contributions or fees. In these cases, they confirm that a payment has taken place.

These certificates can be used as proof of payment for a donation to an association or foundation. They can also serve as proof of payment for a social security contribution when declaring income to the French tax office. Microbusinesses can download a copy of their payment certificate from the URSAFF website.

Finally, a customer's bank may ask for one. Vendors or service providers should therefore be prepared to write a payment certificate letter for their customers.

What's the difference between a payment certificate and an invoice?

An invoice is issued when a service is provided or goods are delivered. These are mandatory – they inform the customer that the sale or service has been completed and it is time to pay for the purchase.

However, payment certificates are optional. These are issued to the customer after the invoice has been paid and only at the customer's request. This document, often in the form of a letter, confirms that the payment has been made.

What's the difference between a payment certificate and a receipt?

A payment certificate and a receipt (also known as a sales receipt) are both types of proof of payment. Receipts are used in commercial transactions (both physical and online) to certify payment of a purchase. In contrast, a payment certificate is often issued by associations and for social security contributions (e.g. health insurance, vocational training contributions etc.).

What information should be included in a payment certificate?

Unlike invoices, payment certificates are not subject to French tax regulations. You can find out more about the information required on invoices in our article on this topic. The information to be included on a payment certificate is therefore not mandatory. However, you are advised to make your certificate simple, legible and clear.

The payment certificate letter should include the following:

  • The full name, contact information and role of the business or association representative issuing the payment certificate
  • The full name and contact information of the customer or donor who paid for the purchase, contribution or fee, or made the donation to the association
  • The purpose of the letter (e.g. confirmation of payment of an invoice, an annual fee, donation etc.)
  • The contribution or fee period and invoice number (if applicable)
  • The amount paid, payment date and payment method (e.g. bank card, cheque, transfer, cash etc.)
  • The date and place of issue of the payment certificate letter
  • The signature of the business or association representative

Where can you find a payment certificate template?

You can download and personalise an online template to help you create a payment certificate. The content of the letter will vary slightly depending on the type of expense. You can refer back to this article at any time.

You can also increase your productivity by using an invoicing solution, such as Stripe Invoicing. This automated invoicing software speeds up the creation, delivery, personalisation and payment of your invoices – with no code required. Stripe invoices are typically paid within three days. Get started with Stripe to optimise your end-to-end invoicing process.

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