All you need to know about required information on invoices in France


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  1. Introduction
  2. What is an invoice and what is its purpose?
  3. Are you obliged to issue an invoice?
  4. What are the rules for invoicing?
  5. What information is required on an invoice?
    1. Other mandatory information
  6. What happens if invoicing errors are made?
  7. How to create a compliant invoice

Most companies have to handle invoicing during commercial transactions. Consequently, it's important to be familiar with the invoicing requirements imposed by the tax authorities. When is an invoice a mandatory requirement? Does the information required vary depending on the nature of the commercial transaction? Is there an invoice template to follow? This article aims to answer these questions and explain in detail how to draw up a compliant invoice.

You can also find out about the mandatory information required for invoices of self-employed individuals and read more on the electronic invoicing reform for companies in our related articles.

What's in this article?

  • What is an invoice and what is its purpose?
  • Are you obliged to issue an invoice?
  • What are the rules for invoicing?
  • What information is required on an invoice?
  • What happens if invoicing errors are made?
  • How to create a compliant invoice

What is an invoice and what is its purpose?

An invoice is a commercial, fiscal and accounting document that records a transaction between a business and its customer. It documents the purchase and outlines the conditions of the transaction and the amount payable by the customer. It is key for calculating a company's annual turnover and the tax to be paid to the State as part of the company's value-added tax (VAT) declaration (if subject to VAT).

Note: if you are self-employed, your invoice will take the form of a fee note ("note d'honoraire") when selling a service to a private customer. This document is similar to a standard invoice and must also include the same mandatory information. The same applies to rent receipts.

Are you obliged to issue an invoice?

All business-to-business (B2B) transactions require an invoice to be issued in accordance with the tax authorities' regulations. However, it is not mandatory to issue an invoice to a private individual, except in the following cases:

  • If the private customer requests one
  • For a remote transaction
  • As part of a delivery within the EU that is not subject to VAT
  • Your service costs more than 25 euros inclusive of all taxes ("toutes taxes comprises" or "TTC")

In all situations not listed above, it is the private customer's responsibility to request an invoice from the supplier if they want documentation of the transaction.

What are the rules for invoicing?

The French tax authorities require invoices to be issued in two copies and in the French language. In order for the invoice to be valid, the numbering must follow a continuous chronological order and must not be interrupted. Furthermore, the company must issue the invoice to the customer at the time of delivery of the goods or upon completion of the service, and the company must retain it for at least 10 years in case of a tax audit.

A French company may create an invoice in a foreign currency if the currency is internationally recognised and can be converted to euros (so as not to complicate the company's accounting tasks). In certain cases (and at the discretion of the tax authorities), a company may draw up an invoice in a foreign language, but it must provide the tax authorities with a French translation.

What information is required on an invoice?

In order to comply with the law, all invoices must include the following information:

  • The designation "facture" (invoice)
  • The invoice number
  • The invoice's date of issue
  • The business's contact details: name and trade name, SIREN or SIRET number, legal form and amount of registered capital
  • The enrolment register – commercial register (RCS) number and the town of registration for commercial traders, or the trade register (RM) number for artisans
  • The business address and invoicing address (if different)
  • The customer's contact details: name, company name, invoicing address and delivery address
  • The VAT numbers (for companies subject to VAT)
  • The purchase order number (if applicable)
  • The date of purchase or service
  • A description and detailed breakdown of each item sold or service performed (general outline, separate line per item) including: unit, quantity, nature, brand, reference, materials supplied, labour
  • The unit price excluding tax ("hors taxe" or "HT") for each goods item or service
  • The total amount excluding tax (or catalogue price)
  • The applicable VAT rate for each item invoiced or the wording "TVA non applicable, art. 293 B du CGI" (VAT not applicable, art. 293 B of the French Tax Code) if you are not subject to VAT
  • The VAT amount, if applicable
  • The amount inclusive of all taxes (TTC), if applicable

Other mandatory information

Depending on the type of transaction, additional elements must be included on a customer invoice. For transactions with a foreign customer, the intracommunity VAT number of both parties must be stated on the invoice.

You also need to mention any discounts, the payment date, terms and methods (and the payment due date), the conditions of sale, the penalty rate in the event of nonpayment, shipping or delivery charge fees, and recovery and late payment fees, if applicable.

Other important information to be provided in certain cases:

  • Professional liability insurance details for those who carry out an artisan activity
  • The wording "eco-participation WEEE" (eco-contribution to electrical and electronic equipment, or EEE, waste)
  • The wording "membre d'une association agréée, le règlement par chèque et par carte bancaire est accepté" (member of an approved association, payment accepted by check and credit card)
  • Mention of the two-year legal guarantee of conformity
  • The wording "autoliquidation de la TVA" (VAT reverse charge)

What happens if invoicing errors are made?

Any information missing or incorrectly stated on a submitted invoice will cost you 15 euros per item of information. On the other hand, creating a fictitious invoice or not doing any B2B invoicing at all could put you at risk of a fine of up to 75,000 euros for a natural person and 375,000 euros for a business. It is therefore important to be up to date with the necessary invoicing requirements for your particular commercial activities.

If an error is discovered in an invoice that has already been created, you can choose to rectify it (if you haven't sent it to your customer yet) or cancel it completely in order to issue another one. The new invoice needs to have a unique number – i.e. different to the previous number – to help you keep track of the changes made.

How to create a compliant invoice

The official website of the French authorities provides an invoice template containing all the mandatory information to be included on your documentation. Two examples are available: one created for a business customer and one created for a private customer.

Furthermore, you can simplify your accounting tasks by using invoicing software that automatically creates invoices without writing code. Stripe Invoicing offers a solution that can be fully integrated with your existing tools: it optimises your accounting processes by facilitating invoice customisation, automating revenue accounting and speeding up the invoice payment process (Stripe invoices are generally paid within three days). Contact one of our experts to find out more.

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