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Mar 28, 2024 · 4 min read

Invoicing rules and requirements in France

How should you approach invoicing in France? From mandatory details to best practices, learn the key features and rules.

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Bonjour! Welcome to the land of croissants and Napoleon, where today each transaction tells a story of legal compliance and financial responsibility. Just as the Eiffel Tower stands tall in Paris, so too must businesses stand firm in their adherence to invoicing regulations. In France, invoicing is not merely a bureaucratic task but an art form - it requires precision, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of the intricate rules and requirements.
“Rome ne s'est pas faite en un jour” - Rome wasn't built in a day - says a famous saying, emphasizing the importance of patience and persistence in mastering French invoicing regulations. Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of invoicing in France, exploring its nuances, challenges, and best practices to ensure smooth financial operations and compliance with the law.

Which circumstances require an invoice?

French invoicing rules apply when the sale of goods or services is taxable in France. Generally, businesses are obligated to issue invoices for sales made to other businesses, including advance payments. However, invoices are not mandatory for certain exempt services. For instance, non-business customers do not require invoices, except for sales of goods to private individuals in other EU countries if the One Stop Shop (Union scheme) is not used.

Mandatory details in an invoice

An invoice in France must contain several mandatory details to ensure compliance. These details will usually include:
  • Unique and sequential invoice number
  • Identity of the seller, including name, first name (for individual entrepreneurs), or a company name
  • Address of the seller's registered office
  • SIREN or SIRET number (unique identification number of each company)
  • RCS number (registration with the Trade and Companies Register)
  • RM number (registration with the Directory of Trades), if applicable
  • NAF code (identifying the main branch of activity)
  • Legal form and share capital amount (if applicable)
  • Name and address of the customer (billing and delivery address)
  • VAT identification number of the seller and customer (mandatory for intra-EU B2B supplies and reverse charge)
  • Date of invoice issuance
  • Purchase order number
  • Payment date, interest rate for late payment, and penalties for late payment
  • Quantity and nature of the supplied goods or services
  • Date of supply if different from the invoice date
  • Taxable amount split by applicable VAT rates, exemptions, discounts, and rebates
  • VAT rates for each line item
  • Total VAT amount payable
  • Reasons for exemptions, zero VAT rate, or reverse charge
  • VAT identification number of the fiscal representative (if applicable)
  • Indication of self-billing (if applicable)
  • Mention of margin scheme application
  • Clause for seller's membership in a management center or approved association
  • Clause for small business exemption
Please note that invoices can be drafted in a foreign language, but an official translation must be provided upon request by the French tax authorities.

Simplified invoices

Simplified VAT invoices are permitted for transactions with an invoice amount (excluding tax) not exceeding €150. These invoices do not need to include the seller's VAT number or references to relevant legislation justifying VAT exemption. However, simplified invoices cannot be issued for supplies of goods or services to businesses in other EU countries.

Currency considerations

Invoices in France 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

In general, invoices should be issued when the supply of goods or services is made. However, invoices can be issued periodically on a monthly basis for multiple sales within the same calendar month, no later than the last day of the month. For supplies to businesses in other EU countries, invoices must be issued within 15 days after the end of the month in which the supply was made.

Format requirements

Invoices in France can be issued electronically, ensuring the authenticity of the origin, integrity of the content, and legibility. Electronic invoicing is subject to acceptance by the recipient.

Storage obligations

For tax purposes, invoices must be stored for six years, although longer document retention periods may be prescribed by commercial law. This obligation applies to both sales and purchase invoices, and it is important to maintain organized records to facilitate auditing and compliance.

Invoicing best practices

To ensure smooth invoicing processes and compliance with French regulations, businesses can follow these best practices:
  • Utilize invoicing software: invest in reliable invoicing software that automates the process, ensures accuracy, and generates professional-looking invoices. For example, Enty offers a centralized approach to just to handle invoices, but to manage the entire back-office.
  • Double-check mandatory details: verify that all mandatory details are included in each invoice, ensuring compliance with French invoicing requirements.
  • Keep track of invoice numbers: maintain a sequential and organized system for invoice numbering to avoid gaps or duplicates.
  • Maintain clear communication: clearly communicate payment terms, including due dates and any discounts or penalties for late payment, on the invoice.
  • Implement a reminder system: set up automated reminders for overdue payments to streamline the collection process.
  • Regularly review and update invoicing processes: stay updated with any changes in French invoicing regulations and adjust your processes accordingly.

Benefits of using an invoicing service

Managing invoices manually can be time-consuming and prone to errors. By utilizing an invoicing service, businesses can streamline their invoicing processes and enjoy several benefits, including:
  • Time savings: automating invoice generation and payment reminders saves time and allows businesses to focus on core operations.
  • Accuracy: invoicing software reduces the risk of errors and ensures that all mandatory details are included in each invoice.
  • Professionalism: professional-looking invoices enhance the brand image and build trust with clients.
  • Payment tracking: invoicing services often provide tools to track payments, monitor outstanding invoices, and generate financial reports.
  • Compliance: invoicing services stay updated with changing regulations, ensuring compliance with French invoicing requirements.

Choosing the right invoicing software

When selecting an invoicing software for your business, consider the following factors:
  • Features: assess the features offered by different software options, such as invoice customization, payment tracking, and reporting capabilities. With Enty, you can customize your invoices and even add payment links for your customers’ convenience. Even more - you won’t have to worry about VAT as it’s applied automatically.
  • User-friendliness: Enty is proud of its intuitive interface that is easy to navigate and use.
  • Integration: Ensure that the software integrates smoothly with your existing systems, such as accounting software or CRM platforms.
  • Security: prioritize software that offers robust security measures to protect sensitive financial information.
  • Pricing: compare pricing plans and consider the value provided by each software option. A lot of solutions available online offer high prices and provide limited features, but with Enty you can experience a combination of services beyond simply invoicing.
  • Customer support: check the availability and responsiveness of customer support to address any issues or concerns.
By carefully evaluating these factors, you can select the right invoicing software that aligns with your business needs and enhances your invoicing processes.

Last thoughts

Invoicing in France is a critical aspect of business operations, serving both as a record-keeping tool and a means to request payment. Adhering to the mandatory details, simplified invoicing rules, currency considerations, time of issue requirements, format guidelines, and storage obligations is essential for compliance. By implementing best practices and utilizing Enty invoicing services, businesses can streamline their invoicing processes, improve accuracy, and ensure smooth financial operations. Stay informed, stay compliant, and make invoicing in France a seamless part of your business operations.
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