What is Pro Forma Invoice?

Have you ever heard of the pro forma invoice ? Actually, it can be classified quite normally in the invoice area. Yet there is one important and very significant difference. In contrast to other invoices, a pro forma invoice is not a request for payment . Rather, you are dealing with a “receipt” and you need this receipt almost exclusively for tax purposes. In the following article you will find out exactly what a proforma invoice is, when you have to issue it and what you need to consider on this topic.

What is a pro forma invoice?

According to whicheverhealth, the pro forma invoice does not represent a correct invoice at all . The meaning of a pro forma invoice lies rather in a production in the form of a receipt, which is very often issued in export transactions . The pro forma invoice does not represent any payment request for the recipient. The pro forma invoice enables you to send goods to a business partner free of charge. You yourself need a pro forma invoice primarily so that you can state the value of a shipment of goods for tax reasons, for example .

Proforma invoices and commercial invoices – the difference

You will find the term invoice in the name of the pro forma invoice, but in contrast to the commercial invoice, i.e. the normal conventional invoice, you do not have to deal with one. This is also the difference between a pro forma invoice and a commercial invoice . If you issue a pro forma invoice, you are not asking your customer to pay in any way. This is the big difference between these two terms and “types of invoices”. If you send goods to a customer and enclose a pro forma invoice with this delivery, this only serves as a receipt for the goods sent . A commercial invoice you put the other hand out whenever you for your shipped goods or services also have a commercial value have.

When is a pro forma invoice used?

You usually use the pro forma invoice whenever you send certain goods without a commercial value to a business partner . As a rule, these are the following areas of application:

  • Sending gifts, donations or sample shipments.
  • Dispatch of goods that have already been paid for by the customer in advance.
  • Proforma invoice for goods abroad that are only used temporarily.
  • Used when goods are exchanged, for replacement deliveries or as part of warranty processing.
  • When shipping goods as an offer.

In all cases, the pro forma invoice serves as proof for customs so that you can prove certain things in the area of ​​import and export.

What does a pro forma invoice look like?

As you know it from a conventional invoice, certain mandatory information must also be provided on the pro forma invoice . As a rule, this is the same information as in the normal commercial invoice.

Then you are always on the safe side right from the start. The pro forma invoice must contain the following:

  • The clearly visible identification as a pro forma invoice or pro forma invoice .
  • Your name with address and contact details.
  • The correct name and address of the recipient of the pro forma invoice including contact person and contact details.
  • If the billing address is identical to the delivery address, you can omit it. If the delivery address is different , you must also specify this precisely.
  • It is important to provide an invoice number and a note. For example, you can enter “Sample delivery – value for customs purposes only”. However, this is only an example. It is important that you simply state the purpose.
  • The delivery date or the performance date .
  • An exact description of the goods with information on the quantity.
  • The unit price and the total price.
  • Your sales tax identification number .
  • The EORI number and the commercial register number.
  • The indication of the costs for packaging , insurance and transport.
  • Indication of the delivery conditions.

Proforma Invoice – Importance to Accounting

The pro forma invoice has an important role to play in your accounting. The pro forma invoice has the meaning in accounting that it represents both the debit and credit deferrals . In simple terms, this means nothing other than that you can replace a pro forma invoice in accounting with another invoice that you do not yet have as a receipt. Booking with the pro forma invoice is no problem. You can simply book your expenses with it until you have the correct invoice. This also has the advantage for you that you can deduct input tax with a pro forma invoice as with a conventional invoice. In fact, the pro forma invoice exactly fulfilled in your bookkeeping actually function as you by own document know. This is important, for example, if you need the conventional invoice for your annual financial statements . So you can simply make a booking because of the form. This booking then debits your income statement as normal, for example. The reversal posting is then carried out in the following period. To do this, you simply have to post the original invoice, as described above. This means that in the end the result is neutral. The pro forma invoice therefore gives you a huge advantage for your accounting. In your accounting system, the pro forma invoice does not appear as an open item . This means that you can also prevent accidental reminders to your customer. After all, he shouldn’t even pay yet.

Once you’ve received the correct invoice, you’ll need to replace the pro forma invoice with this traditional invoice . A pro forma invoice is not recognized as a fully valid document with all the necessary requirements for an invoice.

You have to pay attention to this

The most important point that you need to consider when a pro forma invoice is the fact that you have a by no means false exhibition are allowed to perform. Specifically, this means for you that you shouldn’t even think about turning the pro forma invoice into a conventional invoice. A misrepresentation would have serious consequences and consequences. Not only would you risk a severe fine, the relevant bodies would also deal with you from a criminal law perspective. In addition, the customs would pay special attention to your pro forma invoice and it is quite possible that the customs claim debts here and you would have to pay them. You have to pay close attention to the following points:

  • Your pro forma invoice only serves as a receipt for goods that have no commercial value . It does not replace a request for payment.
  • You can enclose a pro forma invoice, for example, as proof of a sample shipment .
  • With the pro forma invoice you have a possibility with which you can deliver your goods free of charge .
  • As an attachment to the sample shipment, for example, you declare your goods and thus complete the necessary formalities for customs clearance. If the pro forma invoice is included with your delivery, you do not have to pay any customs duties .
  • As a rule, you use the pro forma invoice for business with countries that are not in the EU .

You must also ensure that you always state a value on the pro forma invoice that you have realistically estimated. This is very important for a sample shipment, for example. If you do not give a realistic value of the goods , you are normally only allowed to send a maximum of five samples or the goods do not exceed a value of 50 euros. A realistic estimate also means that you should never give a value that is too low. If your sample consignment is checked, this will be noticed and the consequences would then not be particularly pleasant for you. If you cannot make a realistic estimate, you can make use of the following alternatives:

  • You will report the value of the goods retrospectively .
  • You can submit a customs declaration that is not complete. But you have to make a note of the customs value .

Make sufficient copies of the pro forma invoice:

In order to avoid long delivery times due to unnecessarily long customs clearance, you should make sufficient copies of your pro forma invoice. Sufficient means exactly four copies . You have to attach it to your delivery in a clearly visible and clearly recognizable manner.


The pro forma invoice is usually used for all transactions that take place outside the EU . It is similar to a conventional commercial invoice , but only serves as a receipt and does not constitute a payment request. It is also important that you have the opportunity to post a pro forma invoice in your accounting department. So you can not only claim the input tax deduction, but it does not appear there in your bookkeeping as an open item. As with any other normal invoice, you can use a pro forma invoice template to create it. So you are on the safe side right from the start, especially with regard to the information required on this particular receipt.

Pro Forma Invoice