Difference Between a Bill and an Invoice: Definitions & Examples

bills and invoices

Invoices aren’t only used for the purpose of requesting payment. Companies can use them for financial reporting to know how much clients owe them. It is useful when we want to accelerate the invoicing process and reduce stress from collecting client payments. By contrast, a bill is the document received by a customer after receiving services or goods. It’s written as a statement of these charges, providing a record for the customer of what’s been received. Like an invoice, it’s also issued and received before any payment is exchanged.

Many contractors and freelancers use an invoice template in which they can input the relevant information. You can find many different invoice templates online or pre-saved in your preferred word processing software. Sometimes, the person you deal with directly is not the person who pays the invoice. In other cases, you will send the invoice directly to the person responsible for paying you. Invoices are required to include different details depending on the country you are operating in and where your client is located.

Different terms for the same document

Bills are best for one-time transactions or those that require immediate payment. This means that recurring invoices are better for collecting payment for ongoing services. Conversely, a bill will usually only include the total amount due and a limited description of the goods and services rendered. A bill won’t contain contact details or details about each transaction, nor will a bill contain information about payment terms, since payment is typically expected to be submitted immediately. If it’s not already obvious, this means that business owners can receive a bill from their suppliers or vendors, like when they purchase new inventory.

  • You might use these or other receipts types when traveling, filing taxes, purchasing or selling products, or examining financial activity at your bank.
  • Instead, it simply states the total amount due and is usually accompanied by a payment deadline.
  • Generally, invoices are emailed to clients when the work is completed.
  • The payment is either a one-off, following the purchase, or a regular recurring payment.
  • An invoice and an estimate look similar to one another and contain much of the same information, but they serve very different purposes.

An invoice may be sent before or after work is performed depending on the agreement between the involved parties, and must detail a specific date by which payment is due. An invoice is an itemized list of products sold or services provided, along with the amount of money owed for each line item, and the total amount of money owed. An invoice is sent from the biller to the client, in hopes of being paid within a certain amount of time. Second, invoices are important for tracking these requests for payment. A company that properly tracks, numbers, and organizes its invoices can transparently see which have been paid and which are still outstanding.

The following is an illustration of the differences between billing & invoicing in accounting

Businesses use it to review their cash flow situation, the situation of the fixed assets, the depreciation, or even the financing of the company which establishes it. After all payments are done, both customer and supplier will receive a receipt to confirm the transaction. GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices.

Should you pay a bill without an invoice?

Until an invoice has been issued, there is no obligation to pay, but once you issue the invoice to the client, they are required to honor it, and it cannot be ignored. However, there are times when a client may forget to issue an invoice, and in such times, you may decide not to pay.

The language school would then send a receipt as proof that they have received the payment on the invoice. Although these terms are commonly used synonymously, they do have some differences. Sometimes, they are simply different ways of describing the same thing. Other times, they’re actually different documents with different legal statuses and are used for different types of transactions. Most businesses keep invoice records for six to seven years, which is the minimum period required for tax and accounting purposes. In manufacturing, invoices are used to keep track of the cost of raw materials and the production process.


On the other hand, if you are a customer, the invoice you receive from the supplier is your bill, and once you pay the bill, you will receive a receipt. Such services or goods are more straightforward bills and invoices in nature and the payment terms don’t need to be detailed as payment is immediate. The payment is either a one-off, following the purchase, or a regular recurring payment.

  • A bill refers to providing evidence of a transaction to both the seller and the purchaser.
  • Having a template will speed up the process, and it will ensure all of your receipts look uniform and professional.
  • Before explaining the differences between an invoice and a bill, it’s important to understand how they’re both defined.
  • As a receipt where the customer has paid the complete bill could be called a zero balance invoice as there is $0.00 to pay.
  • Electronic invoicing allows for invoices to be sent and filed entirely online, eliminating the need for paper documents.
  • Invoices are also commonly used in service-based industries, such as consulting, accounting, and legal services.

An invoice is defined as a commercial document issued to a customer following the exchange of goods and services. It is a document used as a payment request, as well as for documenting the goods and services involved in a business transaction and therefore supporting internal accounting and VAT processes. In addition to a description of the products or services provided, an invoice will state the amount due, the due date, and also the specific payment terms and payment method. A bill is a statement of charges outlining the amount a customer owes for goods received or services rendered. The purpose of a bill is to serve as legal evidence for the buyer and seller that a sales transaction took place. Bills are usually used for one-time, upfront payments such as a retail purchase.

The use of an invoice represents the presence of credit, as the seller has sent a product or provided a service without receiving cash upfront. For all GST purposes, a seller must issue a tax invoice to the buyer regardless of whether the sale involves cash or credit. Hence a tax invoice in Australia serves as an invoice as well as a receipt in the conventional sense. The tax invoice must contain seven facts as per the GST Tax Law.

bills and invoices

According to this accounting software giant, an invoice includes the money your customers owe you, while a bill refers to the money you owe your creditors. This is not to say that invoices cannot be used for immediate transactions, after all, they are essential for business accounting purposes. Within business-to-business (B2B) sales, an invoice is nearly always used, even if goods and services are paid for immediately.

As a business, an invoice shows the amount of money you have to collect from customers. It shows the items sold, the prices, the date of the appointments, https://www.bookstime.com/ the delivery, and payment terms. The word “invoice” is used to justify a business transaction between your business and your customer.

What is a bill in accounting?

The word “bill" designates an accounting document that outlines the amount a customer has to pay for a product or service that is purchased. It is also considered as a payment reminder. A bill is issued before the payment is sent, and it is used one-time and immediately.

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