How to invoice in a foreign language
If you have customers abroad, you might want to consider invoicing in another currency or translating your invoices into a foreign language. Not only does this show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your clients, it also helps your customers understand the invoice and the costs involved, therefore minimising the risk of confusion and misinterpretation.
But before you start invoicing in foreign languages, there’s a few things you’ll need to bear in mind, including the regulations on foreign-language invoices in your country, which bits of information you need to translate, and the best way to issue invoices in other languages.
Regulations on invoicing in other languages
The rules for invoicing in foreign languages vary from country to country, and not all countries allow you to send translated invoices. For example, while the UK doesn’t restrict which languages you can use for invoicing, businesses in Australia should only issue invoices in English.
However, even if you are based in a country that allows you to send invoices in foreign languages, there may still be a few regulations that you’ll need to follow if you translate your invoices to another language.
In the UK, businesses registered for VAT need to issue invoices that contain specific details about tax, including the rate and total amount due. They also need to be able to provide English translations of any invoice they send in another language if they’re asked to do so. If this happens, you have 30 days to provide the translation.
Invoicing basics in every language
Whichever language you invoice in, you should always make sure your invoice complies with legal regulations. To be considered a legal document, every invoice you send should contain the following information:
- The word ‘Invoice’ (or the translation)
- A unique invoice number
- The date the invoice was issued
- A due date
- Your business name and contact details
- Your customer’s business name and contact details
- A description of the goods or services provided
- The cost of each individual unit
- The total amount due
- Payment terms – e.g. when payment is due, any discounts for early payment, or fines for late payments
- VAT number and total amount of VAT due, if you’re registered for VAT
As with any other invoice, you should also make sure that you keep your foreign-language invoices for a minimum of six years.
Invoice in a foreign language with invoicing software
You’ve checked the rules and regulations, and you know what you need to translate, but if you don’t speak another language, your options for translating an invoice are limited. You could use a dictionary or online translation tool, but this is time-consuming and leaves a lot of room for mistakes. You could also ask a multi-lingual friend or colleague to help, but again this can end up taking up a lot of your time.
Fortunately, there is a better option: invoicing software like Debitoor. There are many advantages of online invoicing software, not least that you can translate invoices with just a few clicks. All you need to do is select your preferred language from a drop-down list, and the invoice template will be translated automatically.