What is the difference between a proforma invoice and a draft invoice?

Have you ever heard of the terms ‘proforma invoice’ and ‘draft invoice’ but are unsure of what they actually mean? Don’t worry, these two invoice types can certainly cause some confusion. 

The article explores what proforma and draft invoices are, how they’re used, how they differ from each other and how to create them.

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What is a proforma invoice?

A proforma invoice is a document sent to a customer before all of the details of the sale have been finalised. It will state ‘proforma invoice’ on the document to differentiate it from a full invoice, however, it will usually have the same format as a full invoice.

A proforma invoice will be sent to a customer instead of a full invoice if the customer committed to the purchase but the final details have not yet been confirmed.

It’s different from a quotation as a quotation is issued when the customer has submitted an enquiry but not yet committed to a purchase.

What is a draft invoice?

A draft invoice is exactly how it sounds, a draft. It’s an invoice template that’s saved for you to either make future modifications or to convert into a proforma or full invoice to send to the customer.

A draft invoice isn’t an official document that can be sent to a customer. For example, it would be created if a customer has committed to a sale, and you have started building the invoice, but saved it to complete at a later time.

How does a proforma invoice and draft invoice differ?

A proforma invoice is a document that’s issued to a customer, whereas a draft invoice can’t be sent to a customer. A draft invoice is a preliminary outline of the sale only for your records.

You can think of a draft invoice as a sale ‘in progress’, whereas a proforma invoice is a sale ‘waiting to be finalised’. Essentially, they’re created at different stages of the sale process.

Examples of when to create proforma or draft invoices

Below, we’ve provided some relatable examples of when to issue a proforma invoice and when to create a draft invoice.

Example 1 - proforma invoice

Sally calls a bakery to purchase a birthday cake for her son. She tells the baker that it should have a picture of Spider-Man on the top, but she’ll need to find the right picture and will send it to the baker at a later date.

The baker issues a proforma invoice for the cake but states that the cost may differ slightly depending on the picture that is to go on the cake.

Example 2 - draft invoice

Tom runs a construction company. One of his regular clients, Andy, calls him to make sure that he has availability next week to get some work done. Tom confirms he’s available and Andy will call him back with the specifics.

Since Andy is a regular customer, Tom already knows the type of work that will be requested so he starts creating a draft invoice so he can instantly send it to Sam when he calls back to confirm the details.

Creating proforma invoices and draft invoices with invoicing software

Invoicing software can help you with all of your invoicing needs. With SumUp Invoices, you can create proforma invoices, draft invoices, full invoices and quotations.

With our intuitive software, you can create a professional document, send it to your client’s email and have them pay via various payment methods.

Full invoices require specific information to be valid. With SumUp Invoices, you can save product and customer information for quick selection when creating a document. SumUp Invoices will make sure that all of the required information is on the document before you send it to your customer.

You can also easily create a draft invoice for your records to be completed at a later time. All you need to do is create a new invoice, enter the information you currently have and click ‘Save’. This will save it to your profile, but not send it to the customer. You can later edit the information and convert it into an invoice to send to your client.

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