Language of the invoice?
Thread poster: Catz1987
Local time: 17:43
Mar 21, 2014

Being rather new to "the business of translation", I find myself asking this question: what language should I issue my invoices in?

I've moved to Germany a few years ago, but while I'm still brushing up on the local language, I'm doing freelance work, evidently for clients abroad, e.g. France, Romania.
I wonder whether sending an invoice in German would confuse my clients, especially since in Romania there is another official currency. On the other hand, in the case of a tax control, it would be a lot more handy to have my invoice in German, i.e. a Rechnung.

What do you think? Should I provide a translation of the very same Rechnung on delivery? Thanks!

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Debora Serrentino  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:43
English to Italian
Invoices Mar 21, 2014

Invoices are usually in the language of the issuer, as you stated, for tax control. You can issue a bilingual invoice in order to be kind with your customer.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:43
Member (2007)
+ ...
Multilingual invoicing? Mar 21, 2014

You must first of all ensure that your invoices are legally enforceable in the originating country, and that means the authorities must be able to understand them. I don't know if everywhere insists on local language, but it must be a good idea, surely? Then, it makes sense that every one of your clients can understand the invoices they receive from you. How can you enforce payment if they can simply turn round and say they didn't understand the invoice?

I'm a Brit, and my clients all speak (at least some) English, French or both. When I lived in France, I developed a bilingual pro-forma for my invoice, where everything important was in both English and French (e.g. Invoice / Facture; Tariff / Tarif) and dates were in the international YYYY-MM-DD format. Each invoice had its free-form text area, where the description of the job itself was in our language of communication only.

When I moved to Spain, I added the local language for the tax-man, so I now issue trilingual invoices (although I never do the text part in Spanish as I don't speak the language properly.

It sounds a bit of a hassle, but the hassle is all in careful design. It's all text that hardly ever changes, if ever at all.

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RobinB  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:43
German to English
English is OK in Germany Mar 21, 2014

You can use English as your invoicing language in Germany for foreign clients. If you use another language, e.g. Romanian, the invoice should be bilingual (preferably together with German).

Please don't forget that there are strict formal rules for what an invoice issued in Germany (or, indeed, from outside Germany to a client in Germany) has to contain. For details see e.g.

Please remember also that German VAT law (UStG) applies to the formal requirements for the content of invoices even if you're not registered for VAT and/or the transaction itself is VAT-exempt.

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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:43
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Standard invoice Mar 25, 2014

That is to say, standard layout.

The layout of my invoice is in Dutch (because I am from Holland) and under it in English, so 'Factuur' and 'Invoice', 'Prijs' and 'Price', etc. But I do write the information conceirning the content in the relevant language.

Works for me.

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Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:43
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Put all languages on your invoice Mar 26, 2014

of potential readers of that invoice: your client language, English for finance issues worldwide and your local or home languages.

Since I live in Brazil and have clients in Germany, I wrote my invoices to them in English, German and Portuguese.

Sometimes, when I receive money from outside my country, the local bank asks me about what counterpart is for that money, since a bank could receive a fine of about 300% over that bank transfer, if that money transfer could not be well explained to the Central Bank.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Invoices in English Mar 26, 2014

I issue all my invoices in English and every month they go to countries with a total of 7 different local languages, including my local language. Everybody seems to be OK with that, even the Spanish tax authorities, who have never complained about the language in almost 20 years.

I reckon it is really the format that counts. As long as everybody can easily identify your own details, the customer's details, an invoice number, a date, the jobs done and their cost, and VAT and bank information, everybody is generally happy.

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Language of the invoice?

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