What is a Sales Invoice

Sales Invoice Example

It is a legal requirement that you issue a sales invoice when you sell a service or product to a customer.

The invoices need to be stored for at least six years and may be required by accountants for your year-end or HMRC.

The design of your invoice will reflect on your company image. If you are invoicing large companies, it may be worth designing an invoice which stands out. One way of doing this is to use a different coloured paper.

There are legal requirements for the type of information needed on each invoice; this depends on how your business is structured:


  • Your business name
  • Address where any legal documents and cheques can be posted

Limited company

  • The full company name, i.e. the name which appears on your Incorporation Certificate issued by Companies House
  • If a different business name is used this needs to be included
  • Address where any legal documents can be posted
  • The registration number issued by Companies House

VAT registered

If you are VAT registered, you will also need to include the following:

  • A unique and sequential number (this is useful on any invoice, whether you are VAT registered or not)
  • The customer’s name and address
  • Date of supply for the goods or services
  • A tax point date, if this is different from the date of supply
  • Description of goods or services
  • VAT registration number
  • VAT rate per item
  • VAT amount
  • Total invoice amount excluding VAT
  • Each item will need an individual unit price
  • If you have any items which are charged at 0% rate, these must be shown clearly

Sales Invoice Template

We have designed two sales invoices UK templates VAT and non-VAT. You can add your logo, address and details; this will make your business look professional. Full instructions and download are on our sales Invoice template page.

Sales Invoice – Other Information

You may also like to include, contact phone and fax numbers, email address, website and details on how to pay for the invoice by BACS or online payments.

Include as much information as possible on an invoice, especially if you are providing credit terms. You should include your customer’s contact name, and a purchase order number if available: this may help your invoice to be paid quicker.

Terms and Conditions of Sale

Your customer should have a copy of your terms and conditions of sale. Many businesses include a printed copy of their terms and conditions of sale with their invoices; either printed on the rear or as a separate document.

Issuing a sales invoice

Make sure you always issue your invoices promptly: the sooner they are issued, the sooner you will be paid.

There are several ways to issue a sales invoice

Invoicing Software
Invoicing software is included in most accounts software packages. You will find it much easier to use this function as the information will automatically be recorded in the sales ledger and VAT control accounts.

Using accounting software will save you time and money. Some of the best packages available are FreshBooks, QuickBooks and Xero.

Read our guide to find the best accounting software for your business.

Free Excel and Word Invoice Templates
If you are using manual records, then there are free Excel and word invoice templates which you
can download.
Click Here to view a list of suitable templates.
Make sure you find the right template for your business structure.

Invoice Books
You can also purchase invoice forms or books.

If you only issue a few invoices and run a manual system, it is worth keeping an invoice log. It will list Invoice Number, Date, PO Number, Customer Name, Net Amount, VAT and Gross Amount.

This log will make it much easier to trace an invoice if you want to check any information in the future, rather than looking through the whole invoice file.

Invoicing Service
There are companies that will raise sales invoices for you. If you use a bookkeeper check it it is part of their service.

Once a Sales Invoice has been Raised

Once you have issued a sales invoice, you will need to keep copies of them for your tax purposes. By law, you will need to keep copies of these sales invoices for a number of years, and your accountant may require access to them when auditing your business accounts.

You will find it easier if filed in numeric order with the newest on top: this makes them easy to file and locate later.

Finally, you need to make sure your customer has received your invoice and that it is accepted for payment. Find further information on credit control and for tips on making sure your invoices are paid promptly.

Return from Sales Invoice to Bookkeeping Basics page.