You must send an invoice if you supply goods and services to:
- other entrepreneurs
- legal entities who are not entrepreneurs (for example, associations and foundations)
- private individuals, but only in a few specific cases (in Dutch) see paragraph 'rules on sending invoices to private individuals'
What must be on your invoice?
If you run a business based in the Netherlands, your invoice has to meet legal requirements. An invoice must state a number of details:
- your VAT identification number
- VAT amount
- invoice date
- invoice number
- your name and address
- the name and address of your customer
- your Dutch Business Register number (KVK-nummer) if you have one
- which goods or services were supplied
- the quantity of goods or services
- when they were supplied
Invoices must be numbered sequentially. You have to rectify invoices that do not fulfil these requirements. This is particularly important for VAT purposes: if your invoices do not meet the requirements, your buyer will not be entitled to a VAT deduction.
It is up to you to decide how the invoice is formatted (the design and/or layout), as long as you include the required information.
Invoices must be sent by the 15th day of the month following the month in which you supplied the service or product. For example, if you sold something in April, you have to send the invoice no later than 15 May. Your customer must pay the invoice within the payment term.
If your invoice's total amount does not exceed €100 (VAT included), or if it is an invoice to rectify a previously send one, the requirements are less strict (in Dutch). In that case invoices only need to contain the following details:
- name and address
- VAT amount
- invoice date
- goods or services supplied
- in the case of a rectified invoice: a reference to the initial invoice.
Keep in mind that you are not allowed to send simplified invoices if you supply:
- goods or services to another EU country (intracommunity deliveries)
- distance sales
- services in an EU county, while the VAT regarding that service has been reverse-charged to the person receiving the service.
Rules on sending invoices to private individuals
If you supply services or goods to private individuals (in Dutch), you do not need to provide an invoice, unless:
- You are a wholesaler in food, tobacco products, dental raw materials, or equipment and at least 80% of your customers are entrepreneurs
- You sell a new or nearly new vehicle to a customer in a different EU country.
- You are involved in distance selling.
Exemptions to meeting invoice requirements
You do not need to meet invoice requirements if you are an:
- entrepreneur in the taxi and public transport branch
- entrepreneur who supplies exempt goods (unless you are partially exempt, in which case you do have to meet invoice requirements for those goods that do require an invoice)
- entrepreneur who has agreed that the customer provides an invoice (for instance at auctions)
Expiration date invoice
If you do not send an invoice in time, it may pass the limitation period. The client often does not have to pay anymore. An invoice is out of date:
- 5 years after the prescribed payment term has expired
- 2 years after the term of payment has expired if you sell products to consumers
- 5 years after the payment deadline if you sell services and travels to consumers.
If you send your customer a reminder before the end of the time limit, it will start again. This is called 'interrupting'.
Retention period of invoice records
You can issue, receive, and store your receipts and invoices in electronic format. Note that electronic invoices must contain the same information as the original paper invoices. You must keep invoices for 7 years. You have to keep invoices relating to immovable property for 10 years.
Electronic and digital invoicing
You can send a paper invoice by post, or you can send an electronic (e-invoice), or a digital invoice.
Electronic invoicing or e-invoicing is done through accounting software or a portal. In this case, your e-invoice is sent directly through an automated system to your customer. You must ensure your customer has agreed to accepting an e-invoice first. This is not mandatory, unless you carry out work for the Dutch central government. E-invoicing, also known as e-billing, is an accepted method of invoicing throughout the European Union (EU).
If you send a digital invoice, you send an invoice as pdf by email. Electronic and digital invoices must satisfy the same requirements.
Send electronic invoices to government bodies
If you carry out work for the Dutch central government, you are obliged to send an e-invoice. You can submit an e-invoice online by using, for example, the organisation's electronic letterbox Digipoort, your accounting software, or the central government's suppliers portal. All government organisations (such as ministries, municipalities, provinces, and non-departmental public bodies) are obliged to be able to receive and process e-invoices.
Do you supply goods or services to the Dutch government and do you want to send e-invoices? You can consult the e-invoice helpdesk's infographic (in Dutch). This infographic helps you decide which method of e-invoicing is suited for your company.
If you do business with companies in other EU countries from within the Netherlands, there are additional requirements for invoices regarding goods and services (in Dutch). For more information contact the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. As far as electronic invoices are concerned, EU countries may have their own additional requirements.
The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration provides more information on Dutch tax laws when doing business outside the EU (in Dutch).