Setting dates for payment of invoices
Thread poster: Colin Mansell

Colin Mansell  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:22
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Sep 18, 2009

The question of setting a date for payment of an invoice has been put to me and I would be very interested to know what my colleagues do and think about this.

I have never set expiry dates, but usually I send my invoices in late.

Is there an accepted practice in the translation sector? I expect this changes with the country and the agency.

Also, do agencies respect the date set?

I would be very grateful for your experience and thoughts on this matter.

Colin Mansell

PT > EN translator

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:22
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I set dates on my invoices Sep 18, 2009

Hi Colin,

I always write a target payment date at the top of my invoices, underneath the invoice number and date of the invoice. How good an idea this is may be debatable.

On the one hand, it makes it easy for the recipient to see at a glance the last date by which they should pay.

On the other hand - at least here in Germany - it can be a disadvantage from the debt-collecting perspective. If you set a date, then that is the "due date" for payment - even if, as I do, you clearly write "Please pay by....", meaning that, as far as you are concerned, that is the latest date by which you want to receive payment. You can only send a reminder from the day after that date onwards, and the invoice only starts to become overdue from that date. However, if you do not write a target payment date on the invoice, the amount is due for payment immediately, and you can start to send reminders as soon as you like, e.g. after a fortnight has passed.

Nonetheless, translation agencies often wish to make a formal agreement, in advance, about the payment term they are granted, most not being very happy about anything less than 30 days. This is because they usually have to wait at least a month for payment themselves. If you enter into such an agreement, then you may as well write the target payment date on the invoice.

As for whether clients (agencies or any other kind) respect the date: in theory, at least, some agencies have an interest in trying to respect it in order to preserve their Blue Board record. If they have no money, sometimes they cannot respect it. I personally find that the most common practice, among all types of client, is to gradually start thinking about paying it as from this date onwards, and this process can be assisted by sending a reminder on exactly the date following this cut-off date, so that you will then often receive the money about 35 days after issuing the invoice.


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