An invoice is an essential document which must be prepared correctly and sent within a reasonable time. Between traders, the invoice constitutes proof of the existence of a contract.
The notion of an invoice is covered in various legislation such as the code of commerce, the VAT code, the bankruptcy act, the law on invoice endorsement, the law on mortgages, etc.
Generally speaking, the invoice is defined as "written confirmation of the existence of a debt obligation arising from a delivery contract for goods or services that the creditor is required to deliver to the co-contractor by law or custom".
Subject to specific legislative provisions, no text governs the form, medium, content and presentation of the invoice.
In business matters, the invoice fulfils three essential functions:
- In general, it aims to attest to the commitment of a customer to a supplier. Therefore, it constitutes the acknowledgement and existence of a debt.
- The invoice is an invitation to pay, but it does not constitute notice.
- Finally, the invoice constitutes proof of the existence of a contract between two people.
The invoice is of crucial importance when it comes to VAT, given that the system is based on the consideration and deduction of invoices. This is the why the fiscal legislator has set out very detailed instructions concerning how an invoice is to be prepared. The sanction penalising non-compliant invoices in terms of fiscal provisions is considerable: the VAT control administration may reject or refuse the fiscal deduction for any purchase invoice deemed non-compliant.
The invoice must include the following information as a minimum:
- the date;
- an order number;
- the name or company name of the VAT payer;
- the address of the head office of the VAT payer;
- the registration number with the Belgian business register;the VAT identification number;
- the elements required to establish the transaction and the percentage of tax due;
- the indication of the percentage of tax due and the tax amount;
- a detailed description of the item delivered or the service provided.
- General conditions