Meaning of Invoice

The invoice generated by the invoicing (also called invoicing ) forms the basis for the recording of a business transaction in the accounting on the corresponding accounts.

What is an invoice?

Behind the concept of the invoice is the issue of an invoice . Conversely, accounting also likes to refer to invoicing as invoicing. The term “invoice” can basically stand for an invoice. Strictly speaking, in Germany it is an umbrella term that can include several documents.

The classic invoice is one of three possible documents that prove an order as a valid document in the context of invoicing. The invoice shows which services were provided by the client and at what price. In addition, VAT and any additional costs are of course also shown. In addition to the invoice, there are also receipts and own receipts, which are also summarized under the heading “Invoice”.

What does “invoicing” mean?

The term “invoicing” includes not only the actual invoicing itself, but also all associated areas such as creating a credit note and posting the respective business case. We find the literal origin in Latin, because here “factura” means “invoice”. Correctly, however, the term “invoicing” does not only refer to the invoice itself, but to the entire invoicing process . In other words, the legally required, correct issuance and booking of all invoices. This is why the term “accounting” is often used synonymously, although there are some differences here. Strictly speaking, the billing process also includes the Booking credits and, if necessary, issuing payment reminders or reminders .

Good to know : The billing matters as well as the accounts receivable, the payment order and collection of accounts receivable management . All of these processes are necessary to ensure that you are actually remunerated for the services you provide. In addition, we can differentiate between pre-invoicing and post-invoicing.

Are the invoice and invoice the same?

The answer to this is: No, because even if an invoice can be called an invoice, not every invoice is an invoice straight away.

Are these just synonyms?

Even if the two terms are often used synonymously, there is a clear difference. As already mentioned, this is a generic term for different documents . As a result of a purchase contract, these inform the customer about the fee due. The classic sub-forms include the following:

  • bills
  • Receipts
  • Own receipts

You will find out in a later section how these three types of invoice differ.

Important : In principle, it is important to know that the difference between an invoice and an invoice can be defined in the financial world . In general usage, however, it is common to use the two terms “invoice” and “invoice” in a uniform manner. This approach can be observed especially in countries like Austria and Switzerland.

Invoicing: What is the difference between pre-invoicing and post-invoicing?

Two terms are particularly important when it comes to invoicing: pre-invoicing and post-invoicing. Accordingly, a distinction is made in invoicing whether it happens before or after the service is provided. But what are the real differences? We’ll tell you:


The more frequent process is certainly post-billing. In this case there is the service first, then the invoice and, last but not least, the money.

Two examples to explain : The painter paints the walls, then sends an invoice to the customer and ultimately receives his money. The butcher shop seller hands the sausage products over the counter and, with the change, also the receipt.

The pre-invoicing

If the claim is issued before delivery, this is known as pre-invoicing.

An example for clarification : The advance payment for online shopping counts in the category of pre-invoicing. The customer orders goods, receives a payment request from the seller, pays the outstanding amount and only then receives his goods. The goods are only dispatched when the open payment has been received by the seller. Prepaid systems and contracts also belong in the area of ​​pre-invoicing, because here, too, fees are paid before the service is provided. With pre-invoicing, the accounting process always takes place before the service.

What is a receipt?

A receipt is a receipt for a delivery or service. In most cases, the receipt of a cash benefit is documented.

Good to know : In colloquial terms, receipts are also known as receipts, but these are considered to be small-value invoices.

Receipt of goods or services is acknowledged or confirmed with a receipt. Often, however, these are amounts of money. It does not matter what type of delivery it is, because the supplier can always ask the recipient to issue a receipt in order to confirm receipt.

The function of a receipt:

In practice, receipts are mainly used for cash payments. After all, unlike payments made by bank transfer, cash payments cannot simply be documented using a bank statement. It therefore makes perfect sense to have the payment confirmed by a receipt. As a result, the proof of payment is clearly provided to the creditor but also to the tax office. Paragraph 368 in the BGB states that the obligee is obliged to issue a receipt upon request.

The mandatory details of a receipt:

Compared to invoices, significantly less information has to be provided on receipts. The minimum information therefore includes the following:

  • Last name of the recipient of the receipt
  • date of issue
  • Place of issue
  • Type and quantity of the product or service
  • Tax amount
  • Tax rate (either 7 or 19 percent)
  • Gross price in numbers
  • Gross price in words

As can be seen from the list, the scope of the content of receipts is significantly tighter than that of invoices. For this reason, a receipt cannot replace a proper invoice. Anyone who needs a receipt template can download it free of charge.


About the author