Invoicing best practices for France

Learn best practices for setting up your invoices to ensure that they meet business reporting requirements.

  1. 导言
  2. Which circumstances require an invoice
  3. What an invoice needs to contain
  4. Simplified invoices
  5. Currency
  6. Time of issue
  7. Format of invoices
  8. Storage of invoices

An invoice is a document that itemizes and records a transaction between a business and a customer. Invoices are frequently used in B2B payments that have high average volume order values or require custom contracts with customers. Similar to the rest of Europe, invoicing is very common in a business setting in France as most B2B payments are conducted by bank transfers that are almost always initiated with an invoice.

Invoices broadly serve two purposes:

  1. Act as a transactional document of record, for business reporting purposes (e.g., taxes)
  2. Act as a request for a payment, detailing how much the customer owes and the payment terms

In this guide, we will cover best practices for setting up your invoices to ensure that they meet business reporting requirements. [0]

Which circumstances require an invoice

French invoicing rules apply if the sale of goods or services is taxable in France. [1] Businesses are generally obliged to issue invoices for sales of goods or services to another business. This also applies to advance payments made in respect of such sales. The issuance of invoices is not mandatory for sales of certain exempt services.

Although there is no general obligation to issue invoices to nonbusiness customers, French businesses must issue invoices for sales of goods to private individuals in other EU countries if the One Stop Shop (Union scheme) is not used.

What an invoice needs to contain

An invoice in France must contain the following information:

  • Unique and sequential invoice number (without gaps)
  • Identity of the seller:
    • Name and first name of an individual entrepreneur or company name
    • Address of the registered office
    • SIREN or SIRET number (SIREN number is the unique identification number of each company. SIRET number is used to identify each establishment that makes up a company.)
    • RCS number (number indicating registration with the Trade and Companies Register)
    • RM number (number indicating registration with the Directory of Trades), if applicable
    • NAF code (which identifies the main branch of activity of the company or self-employed person)
    • Legal form (EURL, SARL, SA, SNC, SAS) and the amount of the share capital (if applicable)
  • Name and address of the customer (billing and delivery address)
  • VAT identification number of the seller
  • VAT identification number of the customer (this is mandatory for intra-EU B2B supplies and supplies subject to reverse charge)
  • Date on which the invoice is issued
  • Purchase order number
  • Payment date, interest rate for late payment and penalties incurred in the event of late payment
  • Quantity and nature of the supplied goods or the quantity and type of the services provided
  • Date of supply if it is different from the invoice date (if the invoice is issued before the supply is performed, the invoice must show the date when the payment is fully or partially received provided that this payment date is known and not identical to the invoice date)
  • Taxable amount split according to the applicable VAT rates and VAT exemptions, as well as any discounts or rebates that lower the taxable amount (unless they are already accounted for in the taxable amount)
  • VAT rates (if invoice line items are subject to different rates, the corresponding rate must be shown on each line)
  • Total VAT amount payable
  • Reasons for the application of an exemption, zero VAT rate, or reverse charge. For example, Autoliquidation in the case of reverse-charged sales.
  • Name, address, and VAT identification number of the fiscal representative (if applicable)
  • In the case of self-billing, a remark Autofacturation
  • An indication of the fact that a margin scheme has been applied
  • If the seller is a member of a management center or an approved association, a clause Membre d'une association agréée, le règlement par chèque et par carte bancaire est accepté
  • If the seller benefits from the exemption for small businesses, a clause TVA non applicable, art. 293 B du CGI

Invoices may be drafted in a foreign language provided that an official translation is submitted to the French tax authorities upon request.

Simplified invoices

A simplified VAT invoice is permitted if the amount of the invoice excluding the tax is not higher than €150. The simplified invoice does not need to mention:

  • the seller’s VAT number
  • reference to the relevant legislation justifying an exemption from VAT

Simplified invoices cannot be issued for supplies of goods or services to businesses in other EU countries.

Currency

Invoices can be issued in any currency. If an invoice is issued in a currency other than EUR, the total VAT payable must be mentioned in EUR.

Time of issue

An invoice must generally be issued when the supply of goods or services is made. However, invoices can be issued periodically on a monthly basis for several sales in the same calendar month. The invoice is then issued on the last day of the month at the latest.

When goods or services are supplied to a business in another EU country, invoices must be issued within 15 days after the end of the month in which the supply was made.

Format of invoices

Invoices can be issued by electronic means provided that the authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content, and the legibility of the invoice is ensured. Electronic invoicing is subject to acceptance by the recipient.

Storage of invoices

For tax purposes, the invoices must be stored for six years. However, a longer document retention period may be prescribed by commercial law. The obligation to retain invoices applies to both sales and purchase invoices.

[0] Information is current as of July 1, 2022. Consult with your legal counsel for advice specific to your business.

[1] The legal basis for this is found in Articles 289-0 to 289 bis of the French General Tax Code.

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