As a freelancer, particularly when you’re first starting out, learning how to invoice a company for freelance work can be intimidating. But there’s no reason why this should be the case. Producing and sending a professional invoice is simple and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. So, here’s our comprehensive guide for how to invoice a client for freelance work.
What should I use to write my invoice?
Want to know how to create an invoice as a freelancer? There’s no need to overcomplicate things – many freelancers simply decide to create their invoice in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. There may already be templates installed on the program, but if not, there is a wide range of templates available to download online. GoCardless offers a number of invoice templates that you can use as a sole trader or a limited company.
What does your invoice need to include?
Wondering how to raise an invoice for freelance work? First off, you need to know what information to include in the invoice. Here’s the information that must be present in a standard invoice:
Unique identification number
Your company’s name, contact information, and address
The company name and address of the client you’re invoicing
A description of the service you’re charging for
The date the service was provided
The date of the invoice
The amount(s) charged
VAT amount (where applicable)
The total amount owed
If you’re a sole trader, you need to include some additional information:
Your name and any business name being used
An address where legal documents can be delivered (if you’re using a business name)
If you or your customers are VAT registered, you must issue a VAT invoice.
There are several types of VAT invoice: simplified invoice (for retail supplies less than £250), modified invoice (for retail supplies over £250), and full invoice. On the whole, you need to include the same information required for a standard invoice, as well as the following:
Tax point (also called “time of supply”)
VAT registration number
Total amount excluding VAT
Total amount of VAT
VAT rate charged per-item (plus notes for any items that are exempt from VAT)
Finally, if you’ve decided to operate as a limited company, you must also include the full company name (as it appears on the certificate of incorporation) on your invoice.
Pro tip: While it’s not legally required, you should be sure to label your document as an invoice. This will speed the payment process along and prevent your invoice from getting lost in the shuffle, which can happen if you’re dealing with a large client.
Should I include payment terms in my invoice?
Payment terms are a very important part of the invoice, as they determine when the client is obligated to pay you for your services. While 30-day payment terms are standard, it’s completely fine to enforce 7-day payment terms or 14-day payment terms if you prefer.
Where do I send my invoice?
If you’re unsure how to send an invoice for freelance work, just ask your client. They’ll either have a system for invoicing that requires you to upload your document to a vendor portal, or they’ll simply ask you to invoice by email. Remember, if you’re invoicing by email, be sure to add the amount and invoice number in the subject line so it’s easier for your client to find.
When should I send the invoice?
Many freelancers invoice after the completion of the work. However, if you want, you can come to a different arrangement with your client. For example, if you’re working on a particularly long piece of work, you may decide to invoice a couple of times throughout the project. In addition, if you’re working for a client on a recurring basis, you may agree to bill on a set date, for example, on the first of every month. For new clients, it may be a good idea to ask for a percentage of the fee upfront. Ultimately, it’s up to you, just so long as you and your client agree.
What happens if payment is late?
Chasing late payments is an unfortunate fact of freelance life, and while most companies pay on time, a late invoice payment is something that you’ll need to deal with at some point. Start by sending friendly reminders, and if that doesn’t work, give your client contact a call. If you still haven’t been paid, you may need to start charging late payment interest, although you should be aware that this could damage your relationship with the client. Legal proceedings are the final resort, but this should be avoided at all costs as it is likely to spell the end of any future contracts with the client.
Take the pain out of getting paid
GoCardless can help freelancers take the pain out of getting paid, while we also offer integrations with FreeAgent, an award-winning online accounting software for freelancers and small businesses.