Template Invoice for Sales in Italy

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:

Template Invoice

 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.

Invoice number

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.

Other elements

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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45 Responses

    1. Hi Marina, the Italian VAT tax (IVA) increased from 20% to 21% last 17 September 2012. Also note that a few products have a different VAT (for instance 4% on beverage).

  1. ways to learn many things about Business information,very useful! I am looking for a fraud custom lawyer for my import cosmetic from Asia’n made… how to find? Thanks for you advise!

    1. Welcome. To help you I need to understand what kind of fraud you are talking about (intellectual property? Debt collection? Italian custom? Asia custom?). Regards

  2. Stefano, this posting was very helpful, thank you. I have a supplementary question concerning invoice numbering in Italy, is it possible/legal to show the Invoice Number like this 01-2012, 02-2012 and then 01-2013, etc.? This way the invoice numbers would be unique and easy to program.

    1. Hi Christoper. Yes your invoice numeration is possible. In fact I have used exactly this numeration for some of my companies.

      In the last years I have successfully moved the invoicing online to Freeagent.com. This software was born in UK/US but it can be used in Italy as well.

      The Italian version has less features (due to the complexity of the Italian accountancy). On the good side, the price to Italian companies is discounted more than 50%.

  3. Hello

    Are Italian companies allowed to issue pro forma document for deposit of 30% and the balance months later (when the goods are ready) but prior to shipment. IWhat if any are the rules concerning proforma invoices ? and VAT?
    Also are there specific rules regarding the numbers of documents such as pro forma and real vat invoices ?

    1. Hi Marcia, how is it going the business in the fashion industry?

      About your question, you should ask an accountant. And he will probably reply that a company should send invoice only. And credit note if the debtor doesn’t pay. Proforma are usually used by professionals and firms, not companies.

      Many of my clients move around the obstacle, issuing a “Preventivo” (“preventivo” means “quote”) and not a proforma. Different name, identical document, less risks. You didn’t listen this from me …

    1. Hi K. There is NO requirement to mention ANY bank account in an Italian invoice. In fact my old notary was used to send invoice without any bank account (and we had to call him every time to be sure that he didn’t had moved to another bank).

      Our template invoice has one bank account, because it’s easier to be paid by a customer, not because it’s a “legal requirement”.

      Many Italian companies – especially the traditional small one – where used to add 2 bank accounts to their invoice, because bank transfer were very expensive in Italy (they still are, but not as much as in the past). Payment between banks of the same group were less expensive. So small companies were used to offer their customer the choice between 2 banks of 2 different groups.

  4. Hi Stefano. This may not be the most appropriate question for this post, however I hope you could answer as you obviously know your stuff! I am a UK citizen and I am currently receiving quotes from wedding planners for a wedding in Italy. The Italian company that we are looking to go with are unwilling to give us an itemised quote or an invoice for services rendered. Alarm bells are starting to ring since I think this is a basic business requirement. What is the legal stance on issuing invoices? They are looking for a deposit soon however I am wary to send any money.

    Any help will be much appreciated.


    1. Hi Mark. First of all … congratulations for the wedding! And it’s great that you’ll marry in Italy.

      About the invoice. I can understand why they don’t want to send you an invoice. If you don’t pay, they will still pay taxes on the invoice. “Writing off” is not easy in Italy. Did you asked them a proforma invoice instead? They don’t pay taxes on a proforma. And you can still register a proforma in the UK for tax purpose if it matches to a payment.

      1. Hi Stefano, thanks for the prompt reply. I had not appreciated that there may be tax issues on the invoice. I can now understand why they don’t wish to issue an invoice! We will have a contract with a payment schedule on it so therefore I’m willing to take that instead of a full invoice.

        Thanks for your help.

  5. Hi Stefano, quick question, my UK company is not registered for VAT in the UK as it’s turnover is below the UK VAT threshold. If I’m invoicing an Italian company for services provided by my UK (non VAT reg’d) company in Italy, what does my invoice need to show, and who would be responsible for paying Italian VAT, if any?

    I look forward to your reply!
    Thank you

  6. Hi Stefano,

    Thats interesting, have you ever seen a client in a situation they use a Global ERP like SAP or Oracle that use a global sequential number and not per country. For example if an invoice for UK gets issue its 001, then France its 002 and Italy 003. Thanks Martin

    1. Hi Martin, I have seen many of those clients and … they all get sanctions from the Italian Tax Agency.

      If you have an Italian company or subsidiary, you should sequence the invoice IN ITALY and BY THE YEAR. Thus if your last Italian invoice this year is invoice no. 345 (just a random number), that’s the correct sequence (to be written on the invoice as well):
      – Invoice 345/2013 of December 31st 2013
      – Invoice 1/2014 of January 1st 2014

      In my opinion, this is a bad law. When May 2014 comes, and taxes have to be paid, dishonest entrepreneurs can issue a backdated invoice no. 346. However, until they provide a better law, no other sequences are admissible.

    1. Hi Tim, never trust an Italian law until it has been used for at least one year (than be “just” cautious). I spent a few years in regulation and lobby and I have my personal view of the Italian politics.

      Anyway, you deserve a detailed answer.
      i) Yes, the former Government – in power for a very short time under Prime Minister Monti – has issued a law decree called by the Parliament “Monster” (not joking. The first article has more than 550 sub-clauses).
      ii) One of this sub-clauses suggests to switch the invoice number to a progressive numbering (thus if you issue invoice no. 100 on 31 December 2013, you will issue invoice no. 101 on 1 January 2014).
      iii) But … the Italian Tax Agency issued an official note on May 3rd 2013 stating that the old system is still valid (I guess your link was written before the note). Moreover, many officers and accountants are used to the old system.

      I wrote a post about the new number system last January 2013, but sadly I haven’t pushed the publish button yet. I intend to keep it like a draft until next year, when I am really sure that it’s not going to damage my reader.

      In the meantime, I would suggest to ask your Italian accountant. If he feels confident to switch to the new system, do it.

      In the meantime (part 2) Mr Monti is not in charge anymore. Italy gets a new government, a major election, and there is a possibility that they are going to have another government and another election. Carpe Diem (“Seize the day” in Latin).

      And thanks for your link. I will check it in the weekend.

  7. I like this site very much, but the comments even more. I have seen such engagement only in website about web marketing or travel or photography, never law

    1. Thanks but not completely my merit. Many Italian lawyers refuse to share online or simply they don’t speak English. So I guess the few of us writing a blog have a sort of monopoly. Appreciate anyway!

  8. Hi Stefano, how about copyright levy and environmental tax for Italian tax invoicing requirements?

    How would the tax invoice look like when 1) environmental tax and 2) copyright levy comes around the picture in this case?

    Should both be mentioned on the tax invoice separately or not mentioned at all? And should it be taxed with VAT?

    And where can I find the legal requirements for 1) and/or 2) how to treat this in tax invoicing from Italian perspective?

  9. Ciao Stefano,
    I am wondering if it is Italian law that Italian customers must receive their invoices in Italian (or is it just nice for them to have it in Italian)? Can I send my Italian an invoice in English with the required headings in English as long as I follow the the other regulations regarding invoices?
    Thanks in advance for your time!

  10. Hello, can you please explain what a “regimen of margin” partita IVA is, as I have been asked to get into this “category”. Apparently it can help/ effect my invoices? Thank you.

  11. For invoice pertains to Italian Output Reverse Tax Charge,
    (1) Are we required to show any VAT amount?
    (2) Alternatively, only showing the Tax Base Amount, is it acceptable?

    Looking forward to your kind advice. Thanks.

  12. Hello,

    I have a company based in EU not Italy, and an Italian customer just placed an order.
    In the comments he is asking me to sent him a PROFORMA. He also gave me his P.IVA number. What is the proforma he is asking for?

    1. Hello Pavlos,
      “proforma” is a quote/estimation. In Italy a proforma has legal value. It means that if they pay, and you don’t send an invoice, they can record your proforma in their accounting.

  13. Hi Stefano,
    I am resident in Italy but my clients are UK Based. They wil require that I invioce them in English and in GBP. At the end of the Italian tax year I need to demonstrate my invoices for la dichiarazione dei redditi. Will my invoices be acceptable evidence if they are in english or should I produce a duplicate invoice in Italian for my own records? Thanks

  14. Hello Stephano,
    Your information is very usefull. Thank you very much.

    Can you tell us also which are the legal requirements of a returning in Italy?

    Best regards,


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  16. Hello,

    I found this blog by chance and it is very interesting. I am a UK company, trading in E commerce, mainly through Amazon. I am not yet registered for VAT in Italy because I am not quite at the Distance Selling limit. So I charge VAT at 20%, which is the UK rate.

    I have a question. If I am UK company sending an Invoice to an Italian company, do I still have to put the CF and P.IVA number on the invoice? In the UK, I do not need a customers CF (social security number) In fact it is not my responsibility to put this on the invoice. I am just accountable for the VAT. However Italian customers are insisting that I do this.

    If I am Italian VAT registered I guess this will be different. However at the moment I am not.

    Any advice appreciated! 🙂

    1. Hi Giles
      in theory you do NOT need an Italian ID because your company is not Italian.

      However many accountants don’t know that. Also 99% of the accounting software ignore the international exceptions. Why? May be ignorance, may be that they don’t care.

      If you do regular business with Italy, it could be useful to setup an Italian ID (CF). This is NOT a tax ID and you will NOT be required to pay taxes. It’s just an identification. it can be done without going to Italy and the cost is limited. Ask your local lawyer or agent.

  17. Hi Stefano,
    Since you seem to have all the knowledge, I am hoping that you can help me. We are implementing new systems, and there are two systems that will be producing invoices, depending on the nature of the invoice, and whether they are periodic or invoiced on delivery.
    If we have two systems, does the sequential numbering apply across all systems, or could we have sequential numbering by system?

    Many thanks!


    1. You can ask your bookkeeper to record two different business line. Then you can use a separate numeration for each of them. I was used to do the same for consulting and virtual office services. The first group of invoice was CO001, CO002, etc and the latest VO001, VO002, etc

  18. Hi. I want to sell products on Amazon.it. Do I need to have P.IVA? or I can just publish my products?

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