What do I need to add on a French invoice?

By Valérie Aston on 1 November 2022 · Viewed 602 times · Questions

Compulsory Info on French invoices

You have registered your French business and you are ready to invoice your first customer. Congratulations! But what on earth are you supposed to add to a French invoice? This article shows you the compulsory information on French invoices.

Do I need to write an invoice for my customers?

An easy way to remember this is to say that an invoice is mandatory in France from €25. By law, you have to write or send an invoice if:

  • You work with another professional (B2B).
  • Your customer asks for an invoice.
  • The amount invoiced is above €25.
  • You sell online, regardless of the amount.

You can use paper, a word processor, or accountancy software to produce your French invoice.

Do I need to keep a copy of my invoices for my French business?

Oui, tout à fait! You will need to keep your invoices and bookkeeping records for 10 years! Make some space on your drive or in your office. If you keep everything online, make sure you have some kind of backup. What would happen if your computer crashed?

Here's a list of the compulsory mentions on a French invoice:

  • The word "Facture", which identifies the document and differentiates it from an estimate “Devis”. I would leave this word in French.
  • The invoice number, for which you must respect a chronological order. It’s forbidden to draw numbers out of your hat or to use a numbering system for each customer.
  • Your customer’s identity: their SIREN number if B2B, address and name or trading name if any. For a private individual: their first and last name.
  • Your micro entrepreneur’s identity. This means your name and surname, without forgetting the EI mention (for Entreprise Individuelle). And your trading name if you have any.
  • Your business address.
  • Your VAT number if you are VAT registered or your European VAT number “Numéro de TVA intra-communautaire” if you invoice over €10,000 per year in Europe.
  • Date the invoice is issued.
  • Date of the sale or provision of your services.
  • Description of what you sold with the quantity, unit price excluding VAT, the VAT rate if applicable and the total amount per line.
  • Discount rate or rebate if any.
  • Amount to be paid before and after VAT if you are charging VAT.
  • Date the payment is expected “délai de paiement”.
  • Penalty fee for late payment if working B2B “ indemnités de 40 € pour les frais de recouvrement”. This is a compensation for collection costs if your customer does not pay you on time if, you are invoicing professionals.
  • The mention "TVA non-applicable article 293b du CGI" when you are not VAT registered. This is the case for all new micro entrepreneurs, which are registered “En franchise de TVA”, i.e. not VAT registered. If you are invoicing abroad, this mention will change whether you are invoicing B2B in Europe (reverse charge or auto liquidation «Exonération de TVA, article 262 ter, I du CGI» for goods, or «Exonération de TVA, article 283 du CGI» for services) or outside of Europe, which is seen as an export. This also varies if you are selling B2C, so it is always best to speak to an accountant when you do become VAT registered.
  • Your compulsory professional liability insurance, if you work in the construction industry “assurance décennale” or in a regulated profession liberale (lawyer, insurance, health professionals).

What happens if I forget something on my invoice or didn’t invoice

A quick reminder that a Paypal or Stripe receipt is not an invoice. But with this type of tool, you can usually set up a template invoice to be used. I would only recommend this if you don’t use another medium to get paid (cheque, bank account), as you won’t be able to provide an invoice numbering system using chronological order using two invoicing systems. 

France being France, we like penalty fees... In theory, penalties for forgetting or making an error on an invoice can go up to €75,000.  In practice, if you have a “controle fiscale” i.e. the tax office comes to check your bookkeeping, the penalty fee is €15 per incorrect or missing element, but cannot be more than a quarter of the price of your original invoice.

Having a future-proof French invoice

France is moving toward electronic invoicing, where each invoice will have to be sent electronically with a unique key or secure ID number. “La facturation électronique” already exists for businesses working with the public sector. It will be rolled out to the private sector steadily, starting will large companies from 1st January 2014. The timescale for now for micro-entrepreneurs is 1st January 2016.

The mentions that you will need to add from 1st Jan 2014 (1st Jan 2016 for micro entrepreneurs) are:

  • Your customer's SIREN number for B2B.
  • The delivery address of the goods if different from the invoicing address.
  • Whether each line refers to a service “prestations de services” or goods “vente de marchandises”.

The aim is to simplify turnover declaration, limit VAT declaration mistakes and facilitate controls by URSSAF and Impots.

Am I doing everything right with my French business?

By now, you should feel better about sending a French invoice with all the compulsory mentions. But what about other admin tasks? Have you set up your online account with URSSAfF, Impots, Ameli and the training fund? Are you declaring your turnover correctly? Is your bookkeeping up to scratch with French standards? If you are a Micro Entrepreneur, I’ve designed the right course for you.

Join Manage Your Micro Entrepreneur group course

Manage Your Micro Entrepreneur  is the right course for you, if you want to tick all the boxes for your French admin and make sure you haven’t missed anything. If you have created your micro entrepreneur yesterday or up to 12 months ago, you will find some great resources in the course to finalise your setup, handle all your bookkeeping, as well as prepare to become VAT registered and even come out of the micro entrepreneur when you are ready.

Manage Your Micro Entrepreneur helps you build French business skills week after week. It follows an 8-step roadmap to help you become autonomous with your French business:

  • Getting started.
  • Getting organised.
  • Handling forms.
  • Let’s talk about taxes.
  • Creating your online accounts. 
  • Bookkeeping & declaration.
  • Becoming VAT registered.
  • Coming out of the Micro Entrepreneur.

This course is based over 3 months, so that:

✅ You steadily build your expertise.

✅ You can watch the videos, then practice.

✅ You get a chance to ask me questions as we go along.

✅ You get to do at least one turnover declaration for the training.

✅ You get time to receive key healthcare documents.

A new group session will start every year in February and October. Join the waiting list.

What do I need to add on a French invoice?

Valerie Lemiere: Start Business in France

About the author: Valérie Aston

I've been helping people who want to start or already have a small business set up in France since 2009. After graduating from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, I worked as a senior marketing consultant in the UK and France for various International companies. I worked as a conseillère en création d'entreprises (senior business advisor) for BGE here in France and run this independent business on a daily basis.