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What Is a Pro Forma Invoice and How to Create One

A proforma invoice is a valuable document for businesses engaged in international trade, as well as for those managing domestic transactions. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what a proforma invoice is, its importance, components, differences from other types of invoices, how to create one, its legal status, and when to send it.

What Is a Pro Forma Invoice?

A pro forma invoice is a preliminary bill that provides a detailed estimate of goods or services a seller intends to provide to a buyer. It is usually issued before the actual delivery of goods or services, serving as a reference point for both parties to agree on the transaction’s terms and conditions.

A pro forma invoice is not a demand for payment, but rather a document that helps clarify expectations and prevent misunderstandings.

Why Is a Pro Forma Invoice Important?

A pro forma invoice is essential for several reasons:

  • It helps both parties to agree on the terms and conditions of a transaction before it takes place.
  • It can be used as a reference to obtain necessary permits, licenses, and financing.
  • It provides an accurate estimate of the costs involved, helping buyers make informed decisions.
  • It serves as a basis for drafting the final invoice and related shipping documents.

What Is In a Pro Forma Invoice?

A typical proforma invoice contains the following information:

  • Seller’s and buyer’s details, including name, address, and contact information
  • Invoice date and unique invoice number
  • Description of goods or services, including quantity, unit price, and total value
  • Currency used for the transaction
  • Terms of delivery and payment
  • Estimated shipping costs, taxes, and other applicable charges
  • The validity period of the proforma invoice
  • Signature of the seller or an authorized representative

How Does a Pro Forma Invoice Differ From Other Invoices?

a) Pro Forma Invoice vs Sales Invoice:

A sales invoice is a legally binding document issued after the delivery of goods or services, demanding payment from the buyer. In contrast, a proforma invoice is a preliminary estimate that is not legally binding and is not a demand for payment.

b) Pro Forma Invoice vs Commercial Invoice:

A commercial invoice is a formal document required for customs clearance in international trade. It contains more detailed information about the transaction, such as country of origin, customs tariffs, and HS codes. A proforma invoice, however, serves as a preliminary document and is not used for customs clearance.

c) Pro Forma Invoice vs Final Invoice:

A final invoice is issued once a transaction is complete and all goods or services have been delivered. It is a legally binding document that demands payment. A proforma invoice, on the other hand, is issued before the transaction takes place and is not legally binding.

d) Pro Forma Invoice vs Credit Memo:

A credit memo is a document issued by the seller to the buyer, indicating a reduction in the amount owed due to returned goods, discounts, or other adjustments. A proforma invoice is an initial estimate and does not reflect any adjustments or reductions.

How to Create a Pro Forma Invoice:

Follow these steps to create a proforma invoice:

  1. Use a professional template or create one from scratch.
  2. Include your company’s branding and logo.
  3. Clearly mention that it is a “Proforma Invoice.”
  4. Provide the seller’s and buyer’s contact information.
  5. Assign a unique invoice number and date.
  6. List the goods or services, along with their quantities, unit prices, and total values.
  7. Include payment and delivery terms.
  8. Calculate and add estimated shipping costs, taxes, and other charges.
  9. Mention the validity period of the proforma.
  10. Obtain the signature of the seller or an authorized representative.

Is Pro Forma Invoice Legally Binding?

A pro forma invoice is not a legally binding document as it is a preliminary estimate of the transaction. It does not demand payment or serve as a formal agreement between the parties. However, it plays a crucial role in outlining the terms and conditions of a transaction before it takes place.

When Do You Send a Pro Forma Invoice?

A proforma invoice is typically sent before the delivery of goods or services. It is used when the seller and buyer need to agree on the terms and conditions of a transaction, such as price, delivery method, and payment terms. It is also commonly used in international trade to secure financing, permits, and licenses.

Make Invoicing a Breeze with Peakflo

Understanding the importance and use of proforma invoices is crucial for businesses engaged in both domestic and international trade. By providing a clear and detailed estimate of a transaction, proforma invoices help prevent misunderstandings and facilitate smooth business operations.

With Peakflo’s e-invoicing software, you can streamline your invoicing process by creating professional proforma e-invoices with customizable line items, discounts, and tax rates.

Our platform allows you to validate digital invoices before sending them to the vendor, simplifying your sales collections process and ensuring accurate documentation. Embrace the ease and efficiency of proforma e-invoicing with Peakflo and take your business operations to the next level.