What does Invoicing Mean? Part 1

Whenever you invoice a customer, you are invoicing a service or a product. This invoicing to the customer is called invoicing. The invoice or billing document issued in the process represents the basis for every business transaction to be recorded in the accounting . In addition to this billing, you should know how you actually create the billing document, which mandatory information it must contain, how you proceed with invoicing abroad and which regulations for small businesses be valid. You can find out more about all of these topics here.

Pre-billing and post-billing

Depending on when you create the invoice, a distinction is made between:

  • Pre-invoicing : Invoicing takes place before the delivery to the customer is put together. However, a sufficiently high stock level at all times is essential for this.
  • Subsequent invoicing : In this case, the invoice is issued after the goods ordered by the customer have been compiled . The invoice is either enclosed with the delivery or sent to the customer at a later date.


Pre-invoicing means that the customer receives the invoice with or before the delivery of the goods. This should enable the delivery to be processed quickly. The prerequisite for you as an entrepreneur is that you have a sufficiently high stock level so that you can guarantee delivery.

According to DEFINITIONEXPLORER.COM, pre-invoicing is particularly popular for standard deliveries of goods that are delivered together with the invoice. This includes, for example, electronic items, clothing and other goods. The invoice serves as a payment instruction for the customer, but also as a checklist for the packing department. The company saves additional postage costs and effort, as the invoice is sent directly with the goods.

This also helps to enable the eventual return of goods. Because the customer looks at the goods and only transfers when they are sure that they want to keep all the products. This saves both the customer and the company time and effort.


Post-invoicing, on the other hand, means that you only create the invoice after ordering the goods . You can include them in the delivery or send them afterwards. When shipping afterwards, you should make sure that postage costs are incurred. If the invoices are not sent quickly, the payment process will be delayed.

For more complicated orders, for example, subsequent invoicing is unavoidable. This often also applies to services , as you only know how much work to calculate after extensive planning or even after the tasks have been carried out. Post-invoicing is also common for large projects, for example in the construction industry.

Duty to issue an invoice: Why can’t it be done without invoicing?

According to §14 Abs. 2 Satz 1 Nr. 2 Satz 2 UStG you, as an entrepreneur who provides a service to another entrepreneur, are obliged to issue an invoice after the performance of your service. You have 6 months for this. This obligation also applies to invoiced tax-free services that do not exclude input tax deduction, such as intra-community deliveries and / or export deliveries . You are not obliged if the billed turnover is tax-free according to § 4 No. 8–28 UStG. This applies, for example, to services from the health professions.

In the case of a sale to a private end consumer, there is no such obligation (Section 14 Paragraph 2 No. 2 Sentence 1 UStG). Accordingly, as an entrepreneur, a private customer does not have to issue an invoice. You can, however, if the customer so wishes. This is often a point of contention when selling online to private individuals, for example. Private customers are not entitled to an invoice for the goods purchased in the online shop . According to Section 368 of the German Civil Code (BGB), private customers are only entitled to a receipt that certifies that they have paid the amount you requested.

How do you write your invoice?

The legislature also has its own ideas here, which you should better meet. This not only makes your life as an entrepreneur easier for yourself, but also saves you a lot of trouble with the tax office and your customers.
If you want to set yourself apart from the broad mass of entrepreneurship with the formulation of your invoice so that your customers will remember you, you can choose, for example, the following formulations for the calculation of the service or delivery:

  • We will charge you the following amount for work and material: …
  • Thank you for your order. We will charge you for the following deliveries and services: …
  • Thank you for choosing our offer! The job is now done and for this we calculate: …

You are perfect when you thank your customer for the job or the order, as a starting point, so to speak. You will then not go straight into the house and the required invoice amount will be easier to digest. The following formulations are suitable for this:

  • Thank you for your order! We loved to work for you / We loved to deliver.
  • Your new logo is meaningful and fits perfectly with the services you offer. Good luck!
  • If you were just as satisfied with the cooperation as we are, please recommend us to others!

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