How to correct an incorrect invoice
An invoice is an official document issued when a transaction takes place between a business and a client. It details the exchange of goods or services for money. If you issue an invoice and later realise you’ve made an error, there are procedures you can follow to correct it. This article explains these procedures and tells you what to do if you need to correct an incorrect invoice.
In order to be able to change the invoice in the right way, it’s important to first determine where in the invoice process it is, and which information is incorrect.
If you realise your invoice is incorrect before you’ve actually sent it to your customer, then the problem can easily be solved. You can simply edit the invoice and fix the error.
An invoice is not considered “issued” if it hasn’t yet been delivered to the addressee.
If you’ve already issued your invoice - meaning you have sent the invoice to your customer - and only afterwards noticed it’s incorrect or contains an error, you then have different options depending on what the error is.
If you would like to change the original amount issued on the invoice, you’ll need to issue a credit note. This occurs in cases where you forgot to include a discount, or you need to issue a refund to someone for damaged goods.
More information about correcting invoices with credit notes can be found here: “How to legally change an invoice with a credit note”
Occasionally, you may be able to edit an invoice that’s already been sent, although this isn’t common practice. Suppose you’ve made a small error such as an embarrassing spelling mistake, or a typo in your contact details. This can be easily corrected. What you should do is open the sent invoice and click ‘⋮’ > ‘Edit’. You can then make your correction and when you’re done, click ‘Save’.
Remember though; you’ve already sent this invoice to your customer. This means your customer has received an email from you with the details of the invoice and links to download the invoice as PDF and pay the amount due.
If you then make a later change to the invoice, the links will direct your customer to the updated version of the invoice. However, the details in the email itself will not be updated. It might therefore be necessary that you explain what you’ve done so that both you and your customer are on the same page.
Remember: never make changes to the prices on an invoice you’ve already sent. The amended invoice will still have the same invoice number and changing the price will confuse your customer. To amend a price, you must create a credit note instead and start again.
Generally speaking, you should never delete an invoice. In cases where you want to delete or amend an invoice, a credit note will usually suffice as the solution. A credit note allows you to effectively - and legally - cancel an invoice.
It’s required by law that you always keep a copy of all invoices you issue for control purposes. Authorities should always be able to see the initial invoice upon their request, even if it’s incorrect.
However, many invoicing programs do allow you the option to delete the invoice, but not before warning you that it’s not legally recommended.
Want to know more about keeping records of your sales? Read more: “How long must a business keep records of its invoices?”
The nature of a proforma invoice is to declare the seller’s commitment to provide goods or services to a buyer at a specific price, before all invoice details are known.
Since the proforma invoice is not an “official” invoice by definition, it does not hold any fiscal value. Due to this, if you find an error in a proforma invoice you have already issued, it’s not necessary to issue a credit note, or to modify its content in a formal way.
Once you convert the proforma invoice to an ordinary invoice, then you can correct any incorrections you may have.