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Invoice dates: Sorry to ask such a boring question, but I'm CONFUSED. So grateful for any help!

(15 Posts)
Treeleaf Fri 16-Oct-15 15:50:53

I am a self-employed graphic designer. Very small fry and just getting started.
I have been writing invoices based (I thought) on HMRC guidelines, but I'm now worried I've been doing it wrong. My question concerns dating of invoices. I thought that the invoice had to have:
a) invoice date, and
b) supply date.

For a) I've been writing the date that I sent the invoice, and for b) the date that the work was handed over to the client or, in the case of a meeting, the date of the meeting.

But now I've been asked by a client to invoice them before the work is complete. Also was told that the invoice date might mean something else. So I have a couple of questions for you lovely, brilliant people:

- Have I been doing the 'invoice date' right?
- What should I put for the 'supply date' if the service won't be delivered for another month or two?
- Is it ok to demand payment (as I always do) within 30 days if the service won't be delivered until after that?
- When the invoice includes several items (eg meetings, drafts, final product), does each one have to be dated separately?

I have googled this, but everything I found relates to VAT issues and I am not VAT registered so I don't think it's relevant.

Thank you, thank you!

CocktailQueen Fri 16-Oct-15 16:00:12

On mine I just put the date I send the invoice.

Why do you need a supply date?

If you're being asked to invoice before the work is complete, then, yes I think you're within your rights to ask for payment within your usual terms.

If my invoice includes several things, I usually put the date I did each item of work, but I don't think there is any legal need to do this.

For a long project I sometimes invoice for 50-% up front then 50% after I have finished - could you do this?

Treeleaf Fri 16-Oct-15 18:04:43

Oh thank you CQ.
I don't really know why I do the supply date... I guess it's because I see them on other people's invoices. Also the HMRC website has a huge list of things an invoice should have and this includes a supply date, but it's possible this relates to VAT invoices only. I want to be sure I'm crossing Ts and dotting Is.

CocktailQueen Fri 16-Oct-15 19:50:17

I'm not registered for VAT either, have been freelance for nearly 20 years, and nobody has ever queried my lack of supply date... Good luck with your business!

Treeleaf Fri 16-Oct-15 20:37:04

Oh well that gives me confidence. Thanks again.

PowderMum Fri 16-Oct-15 21:07:18

I've run a large business and have only ever put on an invoice date, some of these would have included design and services.
I may in the description include a date, such as Consultancy for the month if May 2015.

SweetSorrow Fri 16-Oct-15 21:16:45

I work for a large company and our invoice date is the date that the service was supplied (occasionally the day before in the case of non account customers). It works in our favour with regards to 30 days payment terms too.

Treeleaf Fri 16-Oct-15 21:30:45

Thanks v much PM, that seems to be a good solution for me.

SweetSorrow, that's really interesting (as far as this topic can ever really be interesting!). - Confirms what I thought about other people using invoice date to mean different things. Not sure this could work for me here as jobs like this one are very drawn out over a long period and some parts were done well over 30 days ago. (My original quote lumped all elements together under one sum which would have made it difficult to send separate invoices for each item.)

I was assuming in my naivety that I could only invoice once the job was complete. Of course I now realise that that could cause terrible cash-flow problems if the sums were larger. ... which brings me to that issue:
Does everyone share CocktailQueen's suggestion above about invoicing 50% upfront and 50% on completion? Is that considered reasonable, normal practice for my kind of work?

Can't tell you how wonderful it is to have all your help by the way. These basic admin/accounting-type things probably seem so obvious to most, but trying to learn them alone when starting up can feel very precarious and a little lonely. It's embarrassing not to know them so this is perfect!

CocktailQueen Fri 16-Oct-15 22:41:09

Whether you can ask for money up front depends on lots of things - the length of job, sector you're in, etc.

I tend to negotiate that on an individual basis for clients. If it's a job that will run over some months I keep a note of the hours I've worked and invoice every month.

CocktailQueen Fri 16-Oct-15 22:41:37

Ps don't be embarrassed! Ask away smile

MirandaWest Fri 16-Oct-15 22:44:42

Supply dates are a VAT thing. So you don't need to worry about it (until you earn enough to be VAT registered of course) smile

Treeleaf Fri 16-Oct-15 23:39:19

...which, sadly, I most certainly don't MirandaWest !

Aww thanks CQ smile

PurpleWithRed Fri 16-Oct-15 23:46:19

I agree up front whether I'm going to invoice monthly, or at the end of the project, or 50:50 before and after. Also state 30 days terms and make sure they are agreed upfront too. Do you have t&c that you send to clients?

Treeleaf Sun 18-Oct-15 00:39:27

Thanks PurpleWR and sorry for slow answer. No I don't. I just have the usual statement at the bottom of the invoice that bill should be paid within 30 days of the invoice date (which, as I said, in my case is always the date on which I send it).
Would you mind giving me a sense of what might be included in T&Cs?
If, for example, you are doing the 50:50 model, do you send out one invoice at the beginning for the first half, and another at the end, or just the one and have it stipulate those timings?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 28-Oct-15 22:48:01

I never let jobs run for more than a month before invoicing, but I don't do 50% upfront. So for ongoing campaigns I invoice for the work I've done at the end of every month, no exceptions. Otherwise your cash flow will be shot.

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