Every time we help a foreign client to start a business in Italy, we get a call from the very same client after 2-4 weeks asking a template invoice or complaining that their first invoice was rejected by their customer. I guess that many foreign entrepreneurs working in Italy have the same issue, if you are one of them I think you will find this post useful.
This post is the first one of a series of free templates to do business in Italy. If you have a specific template in mind, and you can’t find it in our website, contact me and I will eventually draft it for the next post.
How to write an invoice in Italy
First of all, here is a template you can copy and download:
Elements of an Italian invoice
The template is a standard invoice to sell products between Italian companies. In the next posts I will show you how to change the invoice if you are selling to foreign companies, or if you are providing services not products, etc.
You can use a letterhead, add a beautiful logo, restyle, and much more, however some elements are required to be in the invoice, or your invoice can be rejected by your customers (or worse, you can become a target of the Tax Agency).
Company number and VAT tax number
Your company number (in Italian “Codice fiscale” or “C.F.”) and your VAT tax number (“Partita IVA” or “P.IVA”) should always be detailed in the invoice, under your name or on the footer.
These elements are more important than you can think because in Italy it’s allowed to setup a company the with the same name of an existing company. Of course, if you decide to call yourself FIAT to produce cars or VALENTINO and design fashion, you will be sued by the existing companies. In fact they have the resources to protect their names with a trademark. However if you check a less famous name, you will find hundreds of companies with the same name at Companies House. For instance, write some of the most common Italian surname, such as Rossi or Bianchi and you will find many ROSSI S.R.L. and BIANCHI S.R.L. companies.
In short, to reduce the risk of frauds, the law requires your company number and VAT number, as well as the company number and VAT number of your customers. The last one should be written under their name like in the template.
This is where many of my clients go confused. The invoice number in Italy SHOULD start from one every year. If your last invoice of 2011 is no. 99, the first invoice of 2012 will be 1-2012 not 100.
This is not very effective to prevent fraud. I have seen many suspicious invoices dated 31 December of the “last year” and I don’t believe that so many Italians work the last day of the year. However this is the law and your company will be fined for using a progressive numbering. So remember to start back from invoice no. 1 every January 1st.
The other elements of the invoice are common to every country.
- Product description (“Descrizione“)
- Product quantity (in Italy usually referred as “Q.tà” short version of “Quantità” that in Italian means Quantity)
- Price per Unit (“Prezzo“)
- Price x Quantity (“Importo“)
- Total before VAT tax (“Totale imponibile“)
- VAT tax (“IVA” usually 21% in Italy)
- Total to pay (“Totale a pagare“)
- Payment details / Bank wire (“Modalità di Pagamento” “Bonifico Bancario“). Here you can add a different system like check (“assegno“), your paypal account in Italy, etc.
You will get very different invoice from lawyers and accountants and a few other regulated professionals. If you have a doubt, feel free to drop me an email. This website is alive for 2 weeks and I have already got more than 100 emails. I can’t reply to everybody, but I will read all your messages, and eventually post the solution in the website.
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