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Signed hardcopy of invoices? (follow-up to
Thread poster: PRAKAASH

PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:29
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
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Dec 20, 2006

I asked to fellow prozians regarding a payment matter. The outsourcer has sent a cheque. I'm bit busy to unable to deposit even the same. No matter, I'll do the same. I'd like to ask the people here, whether is it necessary to sign the hardcopies of invoice before receiving the payment? Earlier, I just sent the attachment emails. Now, the same outsourcer is stubbornly asking for signed hardcopies before payment. How many of you really sign the hardcopies of the invoices before payment, please let me know?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2006-12-20 19:26]

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Local time: 23:59
English to German
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Virtually sign Dec 20, 2006

You can sign your invoice with VeriSign e.g. , make a PDF and send it via email to your customer. The virtual signature is as valid as a real one on a hardcopy sent by snail mail or fax machine to the customer.
Or sign the hardcopy, scan it, make a PDF and send it by email.

Edit: A signature is a must on a document such as an invoice

[Bearbeitet am 2006-12-20 19:44]

[Bearbeitet am 2006-12-20 19:46]

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:59
English to German
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No signature Dec 20, 2006

Hi Prakaash,
My company only sends out invoices in hardcopy, by snail mail; however, none of them bears a signature. (One reason for not signing is that someone might place a confirmation of payment receipt in front of the signature...)

What you can do (but strictly speaking, I don't see a necessity) is to add a note that the document is valid without signature.

When sending out electronic invoices, you will need an authentication (often referred to as an 'electronic signature'), to make sure the electronic document has not been tampered with. (This is one of the key reasons we don't use electronic invoices as yet.)

HTH, Ralf

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Francesca Pesce  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:59
Member (2006)
English to Italian
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I think it depends on local legislation Dec 20, 2006

I think it is also a matter of local legislation. Signing the hard copy doesn't necessarily mean that one confirms its settlement.

In my country (Italy) a signature per se doesn't mean anything specific.
Many freelancers used to sign the original of their invoice on issue. Now it seems that you are not supposed to sign invoices anymore.

In the same way, I imagine that rules change according to different countries and customs.

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
English to Lithuanian
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I think it mostly depends on the client itself Dec 21, 2006

...because e.g. I have several clients from the same country - for several I send simple Excel files as invoices via email, others want to have them signed (and sent as scans). Now I have one client who asked for an original "paper invoice" to be sent VIA REGISTERED AIRMAL to them PLUS, apart that I listed all of their small-scale projects 1-20 into my invoice, they also asked me to fill in "their own" invoice form "because their accountant demands that" and that took me more than an hour (20 small-scale projects from 7 to 50 EUR). + I did not understand half of what was to be filled in into their "own form".

Yes, many things might depend on the specifics of the national legislation I think, but 2/3 of all that depends on the "inner procedures" of the company. I do not quite understand as why the translator (who has already spent his time doing jobs for the client) has to do the job for the accountant of the company filling all their "own" sheets?

I think that a proof of expenses (from the formal point of accounting procedures) is not the invoice itself, but the fact of payment (bank transfer slip or any equivalent documents). And invoice becomes just like a secondary paper where it's main function is to document upon what basis the company pays to that or another person (mainly needed for the bank clerks)...So, MAYBE it depends on the banks too?

And well, I do not quite agree with Ralf. OK, you put a signature, and they put a false "payment receipt confirmation" next to your signature. But you can say and you can PROVE that you have not received the payment (actually vice versa - if you claim "where is my money", they must have a proof that they have paid). So, if they do not have a bank transfer document (just becaise they did not make a transfer), so how can they actually prove that they have really PAID? I.e. no document - no proof. And making false documents and usage of them - a serious criminal liability already. But again, maybe these are national legislation peculiarities...

And, in my opinion, all these "own procedures", various requests to fill in sheets of whatever, requests for signed copies (esp. via registered airmail, or sending a checque) is just like an instrument to win some time and to drag on the payment to a longer period than promised instead of saying "sorry, but can we pay 2-3 later" or "sorry, we do not know the status of your payment because our accountant is giving a birth"

Regards 2 all

[Edited at 2006-12-21 00:50]

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English to French
invoice in PDF Dec 21, 2006


I asked to fellow prozians regarding a payment matter. The outsourcer has sent a cheque. I'm bit busy to unable to deposit even the same. No matter, I'll do the same. I'd like to ask the people here, whether is it necessary to sign the hardcopies of invoice before receiving the payment? Earlier, I just sent the attachment emails. Now, the same outsourcer is stubbornly asking for signed hardcopies before payment. How many of you really sign the hardcopies of the invoices before payment, please let me know?

Never, in 2006 (and already before that) we send an invoice in PDF in attachment to the e-mail saying we send the invoice.
The client insisting for a hardcopy can print it.

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Local time: 23:59
German to English
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signed vs. unsigned; electronic vs. hardcopy Dec 21, 2006

Hello everyone,

Allow us to share our experience with the issue of signed vs. unsigned and electronic vs. hardcopy invoices.

In Austria, invoices without a signature have always been permitted - but if you receive invoices without a signature you are not entitled to use them for input tax deducation since their "uniqueness" cannot be proven. Faxed invoices are permitted until the end of 2007 (this deadline has been extended by 1 year) only.
So, if you want to use invoices for input tax deduction - you either have them signed and sent by regular post or faxed (at least until the end of 2007) or you have them signed electronically and sent by email. In both cases, Austrian law provides that the invoice must be unique. And it is this required "uniqueness" that makes life so difficult for invoice senders.
Signing them electronically is a major undertaking - you need to use a special system when placing your "digital signature" on the invoice. The receiver must be able to verify that the signed electronic invoice is yours using a password and/or a verification code. Then the receiver also needs to keep the originally sent invoice for 7 years for compliance with fiscal law. As far as we know, the digital signature systems make you pay for every single signature you place on an invoice.
Merely placing a signature on your invoice in Word or pdf or scanning a signed invoice and sending it by email is not lawful in Austria.

BUT, of course, you have big Austrian utility companies giving people the choice of receiving invoices by email. These invoices are not signed and as far as we know are not in compliance with law. Perhaps it is the utilities' economic weight that exempts them from complying with the law or perhaps they've had a closer look at Austrian and EU legislation and believe they are exempted.

EU law specifically provides that invoices do not need to be signed, on the one hand.
"Member States shall not require invoices to be signed."!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=32001L0115&model=guichett

On the other hand, the directive continues: - by means of an advanced electronic signature within the meaning of Article 2(2) of Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signatures(9); Member States may however ask for the advanced electronic signature to be based on a qualified certificate and created by a secure-signature-creation device, within the meaning of Article 2(6) and (10) of the aforementioned Directive;
This seems to be the way Austria is handling the issue.

Basically, Austrian invoices to Austrian's need to be signed and sent by regular post or faxed (until the end of 2007). Technically, invoices from other EU countries will most likely not be subject to this requirement as you cannot expect a translator in Greece to comply by Austrian law. And we wouldn't know what the requirements are for invoices from countries outside the EU - our guess is that they do not need to be signed either.

In any case, our tax adviser has told us only to accept signed invoices by regular mail because of the "uniqueness" requirement we have here in Austria. We have included this provision in our Purchase Order and expect translators working with us to comply.
Hope this throws some light on this rather murky issue.

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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:59
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
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Government Organizations Dec 21, 2006


My personal experience is that only government organizations (in Indian context) insist on paper invoices signed and sent by snail mail.

In fact, I tried to negotiate with them that I'll send them signed and scanned docs, they agreed, guess I was dreaming 'coz a couple of weeks later I received a call from them telling me to send a proper paper invoice as their a/c section needs that.

Only I'm thankful that they don't require us to affix revenue stamps anymore (of course, if one invoice is above INR 5000 that's obligatory, but no fear of that with the rate the govt. pays)

Guess all this is still a dream when Govt. offices are concerne. For a recent work that I did for the University, I've been advised to print-out the invoice that they sent (true) and affix a revenue stamp, sign and send it by snail-mail. Of course, one can easily imagine my reaction
Ritu Bhanot

[Edited at 2006-12-22 10:18]

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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:59
French to English
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Digital signatures Feb 2, 2007

Sorry this is a very late addition to this topic! Following on from Brainstorm's note about the situation in Austria, I have hust been informed by an Austrian client for whom I do a fair amount of work that invoices will no longer be accepted by e-mail unless they are digitally signed. I can send them by fax until the end of the year, as Brainstorm says, but thereafter they must be digitally signed or posted.

Although I've had a quick glance at the Verisign link, I'm not sure whether that's appropriate for my case as a freelance translator - and it doesn't say whether you have to pay to do this or not! Can anyone point me in the right direction to a free - or at least inexpensive! - way of attaching these digital signatures to my invoices? I really don't want to have to revert to the post, as it seems such a backward step.

Many thanks

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