The layout and information content of Procountor invoices are described on this page.
The technical standards used for invoices in Finland are EDIFACT’s INVOIC and electronic invoice standards.
Standardization of the layout of electronic invoices has frequently been advocated,since electronic invoices must nevertheless be viewed with the human eye.If the layout is standardized, why would the same layout not work for mailed invoices as well?A good feature of electronic invoicing is that an XSL description can be attached to the invoice, which will then be displayed in the browser exactly as the seller intended. For accounting purposes, however, standardized invoice images can be used in addition to such a description.You can include links to product catalogues within electronic invoices, enabling the recipient to see images of the products on the invoice.
Until 1992, bank statements by different banks differed in terms of layout and even size.Their information content was not harmonized, which made accounting laborious and difficult.In addition to bank statement information, separate payment receipts complementing the information on the bank statement were required for accounting.But these problems are now a thing of the past.Today, the bank statements of all financial institutions share the same layout and contents, which makes processing bank statements fast and enables automated accounting.The information contents and layout of paper bank statements and screenshots and printouts taken of electronic bank statements were standardized as early as in 1992.
Invoices are currently undergoing the same revolution.Several different invoicing standards and models have been planned for Finland (e.g. SFS, UN, the invoice model given in the bank transfer guides of banks, and the eLetter invoice model). Invoices nevertheless remain diverse in terms of their layout and content.They are drawn up on printed forms, using both colour printers and black-and-white laser printers.Some invoices are printed on carbonless copy forms using matrix printers.Some invoices include bank transfer forms, while many do not.On the other hand, some companies use windowed envelopes.A great deal of resources are spent on the design and tailoring of invoices.However, the end result makes the work of invoice recipients more difficult: the information is located all over the invoice, or necessary information may be completely missing. In addition, the presentation of information varies, with e.g. payment terms being presented in a multitude of ways.
The contents of invoices are regulated by legislation, principally the Accounting Act and Value Added Tax Act. The EU is also attempting to harmonize the information contents of invoices through VAT directives.
A general invoice standard is being prepared in Finland. This standard will require different versions for consumer invoices (including bank transfer forms) and corporate invoices (no bank transfer form). Yet further variations will be required for foreign invoices.
The general standard will also potentially specify standard locations and a set order for all information contained on invoices. If an item of information is not necessary on a particular invoice, it can be left out when printing the invoice. This will avoid identical address information being printed several times on Procountor’s Preview, E-mail and Mail invoices. We will not change the invoice processing page, however, since all Procountor invoices share the same structure.
Regardless of the major differences in invoice layout, many areas of invoice design have become standardised: the location of the address information, headers and dates, product rows and the bank barcode. At present, the greatest variation lies in the presentation of invoice identifier, payment and delivery details. Much of this information is mandatory due to legislation and for other reasons.
The benefits of standardisation
Electronic invoicing will eliminate the need for sellers to print sales invoices on paper. The Accounting Act nevertheless requires the capability to print individual invoices on paper if so demanded. Such printing can be performed in accordance with the standardised invoice image (in Procountor, the Preview view can be printed on paper using the Print function).
We do admit that standardised invoices look more monotonous. Set against this drawback, however, you can consider how important it is for your company to be able to:
- Send invoices at the click of a button
- Automatically verify the information content of invoices during their creation (unlike in the case of invoices created using typewriters, Word, etc.)
- Send invoices without envelopes, stamps/franking stamps, or inserting invoices into envelopes and carrying them to the mail box (how far is it from your office?)
- Immediately add the invoice to the accounts
- Have bank reference codes assigned to all invoices, enabling automated sales and purchase ledger management
- Make the accountant’s work more efficient, invoice verification simpler, be certain that all invoices are complete etc.
Differences between the Sales invoice screen and preview/paper printing
Paper invoices are usually printed on vertical A4 forms. Computer screens, on the other hand, rarely show the entire invoice at once, since they tend to be wider than they are tall. For this reason, invoice images can include technical differences which enable them to make maximal use of the benefits provided by different tools, without reducing the benefits of standardisation.
- Bank barcodes are only required on paper invoices.
- The seller’s contact details can be presented in small type on paper invoices. On e-invoices, such information can be accessed through a link when required.
- You can present the sales invoice creator’s and, correspondingly, the purchase invoice processor’s user stamps (username + date and time) on screen
- The invoice status is indicated on the screen (Approved, Paid, Sent etc.)
Layout changes/Your logo
If you wish to display your company logo on invoices, you can add it in Management > Company info > Invoice settings for no charge. On invoices, the logo will replace the company name displayed in the top left corner. The logo will also be automatically included on salary slips, orders, purchase invoices etc.
On invoice templates, a space of 1.50 x 9.0 cm (h x w) is normally reserved for the logo.A sufficient image resolution (pixel count) is required for good-quality printouts, but the file size should not exceed 30 kilobytes.Invoices mailed through (invoice channel Mail) Procountor are mailed in C5 envelopes (22.9 x 16.2 cm) with 9 x 6 cm windows located 1.8 cm from the left-hand edge and 1.5 cm from the top.
You can select from two free invoice templates in Procountor’s Invoice settings: the Procountor default template or an invoice template with a bank transfer form.
You can order invoice templates tailored to your company from Procountor’s customer service, firstname.lastname@example.org. Such work is subject to our hourly rate.
All information that will fit into the fields is printed on the invoice. If required, the information is divided into several rows, with line breaks positioned where spaces occur in the information. If a field contains a continuous character string without spaces, line division is not implemented.
- Billing address
It is increasingly common to use billing addresses that are different to the customer’s address, since invoices are directed to post boxes, group financial administration departments, accounting firms and purchase invoice scanning services.The placement of the address is determined by the location of the window on the standardised windowed envelope.Envelopes used for mailing invoices from Procountor are size C5 with 9 x 6 cm windows.Customer address The customer address indicates the legal recipient of the invoice.Delivery address A delivery address is required for invoices when the products have been delivered to an address other than the customer address.If this information is missing from the invoice, the buyer will be required to prove the delivery destination of the purchased goods with the notice of arrival or by other means.
Invoice identifier information
- Order reference Also referred to as Your reference or Reference. The seller uses this information to allocate the invoice to its order database, or to circulate the invoice to the person responsible for the purchase related to the invoice.
- Additional information This information can be used to provide a free-form clarification of the standardised invoice information in order to make the invoicing grounds unambiguous to the buyer.
- Invoice date
The term of payment is calculated and the invoice’s accounting determined on the basis of the invoice date (the entry period can be edited in Procountor, if required). The Accounting Act stipulates that receipts must be dated. Customer Business ID
All customer and supplier numbers should be replaced with a public and unambiguous business ID.This information is also needed by the buyer to make the invoice easier to identify.The business ID is also used in auditing and tax inspections.For internal-market invoices in the EU, such information has been decreed mandatory by the related directive (the business ID is optional in Procountor’s basic information and invoices. If you use the business ID, you can comprehensively categorise data even if the customer changes its name).
The business ID is also used to direct electronic invoices to the correct recipient.
- Invoice no The Accounting Act requires that the receipts are numbered. In electronic archives, the significance of invoice numbers is negligible since invoices can be found using various “real-life” information, such as the customer name. Invoice numbers on paper invoices make the invoice easier to find from folders, if the invoices are stored in numerical order.
Information required to pay the invoice
- Bank reference code
The bank reference code consists of the invoice number and a check digit.The bank reference code is required in order to allocate the invoice and payment (Procountor also allocates purchase/travel/expense invoices to payments on the bank statement by their bank reference codes).Account numberThe number of the bank account into which the invoice will be paid.If the account number is in IBAN format, the bank’s SWIFT/BIC code will also be indicated on the sales invoice.Term of paymentThis information is used to determine the invoice’s due date.Due dateThe due date set for paying the invoice.Penal interestPenal interest on the invoice can be used in the creation of interest invoices incurred by delays in payment.CurrencyBecause it is crucial to differentiate invoices in different currencies from one another, the currency is specified in the basic invoice information.
The separate delivery of header information, e.g. for the purchase ledger or payment transaction service, has also been raised as an issue during the invoice standardisation work.This would require the inclusion, in the correct currency, of the total invoiced sum in the invoice’s header information.
- Payment method The seller and buyer are free to agree on payment methods other than the standard bank transfer. Such payment methods include cash payment, card payment, direct debiting, monthly/quarterly clearing and setting the invoice off against a purchase invoice.
Invoice and service delivery information
- Invoice channel The invoice must also be visible on the seller’s screen, and the seller must know how the invoice has been sent.The invoice channel is basic information and can be changed.The route by which the invoice has been received should also be apparent in the buyer’s accounting (the channel information is also included on the bank statement, to enable the identification of the location of the original payment transaction).
- Managed by The representative of the seller, who will provide additional information on the object of the invoice or is responsible for invoicing in general.
- Method of delivery The delivery method of the goods/service. For example, this information can be used to demonstrate to tax inspectors whether the goods could have been in transit on the closing date.
- Delivery date The delivery date is required in order to allocate the receipt to the correct period. If the information is missing from the invoice, the seller and buyer must both demonstrate the delivery date of the goods or service with a dispatch list or other document. If the invoice includes information on the delivery date and goods sold, all such documents can be destroyed.
- Delivery date 2 Delivery date 2 indicates the end date of service delivery. This information can be used to automatically accrue payments such as leases, insurance premiums, leasing fees, maintenance fees etc.
- Product A product name or other clear description by which the product is identified.
- Product code Preferably a code that can identify the product in the accounting/inventory/shop of both the seller and buyer. Such common codes include the EAN for daily consumer goods, ISBN for books and ISSN for magazines. This information is optional. The column will not be displayed if no invoice rows include product codes.
- Quantity The quantity of the invoiced item.
- Unit The unit of which the quantity is constituted. This information is optional, and the column will not be displayed if no units have been specified on invoice rows.
- Unit price The item’s unit price before discounts.
- Discount The discount percentage given for the item. This information is optional, and the column will not be shown if none of the invoice rows include discounts.
- Taxable/tax-free value The invoice row’s taxable/tax-free value after discounts. In the additional settings of Basic company information, you can specify whether tax-free or taxable values will be used.
- VAT The VAT rate of the invoiced item.
Invoice sum information
If the invoice is in a currency other than the euro, the sum information will be displayed in both euros and the invoice currency.
- Total tax-free value Currency The total tax-free sums of rows.
- VAT Currency VAT amounts by tax rate.
- Invoice total Currency The total sum of the invoice.
- Contact information The Limited Liability Companies Act stipulates that sales invoices must include the seller’s name, domicile and business ID entered in the Trade Register.Including WWW and e-mail addresses will make it easier for the buyer to send any questions or complaints regarding the invoice.The seller’s bank account numbers are presented in the Bank account information section. These allow the buyer to pay the invoice into an account other than the one indicated at the top of the invoice.
More details are available in sales invoice information.