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How to send invoices in a foreign language

If you have customers abroad, you might want to send invoices in their local language or currency. Not only does this show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your clients, but it also helps your customer understand the invoice and the costs involved, minimising the risk of confusion and misinterpretation.

So how do you invoice in another language? There are many advantages of online invoicing software, not least that you can translate invoices with just a few clicks.

Creating foreign language invoices is quick and easy with Debitoor invoicing and accounting software

With invoicing software you don't need to be fluent in any other language, simply fill in the invoice template as usual, then select the foreign language from the drop-down list.

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 sent
  • Your company’s name and contact details
  • Your customer’s name and contact details
  • A description of products or services sold
  • The cost of each individual unit
  • The total amount owed
  • 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 are VAT registered.

Regulations on invoicing in other languages

Unlike some foreign countries, the UK doesn’t restrict whether you can send invoices in foreign languages or currencies, but if you’re VAT registered, you’ll need to follow guidelines which ensure that you pay the correct amount of VAT.

If you choose to send VAT invoices in another language or currency, you will need to:

  • Provide an English translation of any invoice, if asked to do so by a VAT officer. You have 30 days to provide the translate
  • Show the total amount of VAT payable in GBP if the supply of goods or services in within the UK.

To convert the currency to GBP, you can apply to HMRC to use a different method to account for the VAT, or calculate the conversion according to:

  • The market selling rate at the time of supply
  • The European Central bank’s rate; or
  • HMRC’s period rate of exchange.

As with any other invoice, you should also make sure that you keep your foreign-language invoices for a minimum of six years, and for 10 years if you’re registered for VAT MOSS (Mini One Stop Shop).