I've recently registered for VAT and I'm not sure if I've been numbering my invoices correctly.

I don't have many clients and I simply run a sequential count so it would be invoice #01...#02..#03

every new client has their own sequence starting from #01 although I don't have a specific client identifier on the invoice number so it could be that I end up with invoice #01 for client A and also client B..

is this correct/acceptable or should I make sure numbers are unique for every client?

  • Uhhh, what? I don't understand what the dilemma is? – Canadian Luke Sep 14 at 17:09
  • I just number mine from YYMM01, so that this month I have 180901, 180902 ... but I only have one client. If I had more, I would probably add a unique client Id at the start, but my method as it stands works even for multiple clients. – Mawg Sep 24 at 14:09

I have no knowledge of VAT (because I'm US-based and don't need it).

However, customarily every invoice has a unique number - regardless of client/customer. You should never have more than 1 invoice with the same number, ever. This allows you to find the exact transaction at a later date. Having multiple invoices with identical numbers will inevitably result in a nightmare.

If you have multiple invoices, all numbered as #01.... then you'll be scouring every 01 invoice to try and find the correct one. That's not good. It may seem minor with 50 invoices, but after a couple years you may have thousands of invoices to wade through.

Again, without VAT knowledge here ... you can add a unique client identifier to invoice numbers if you'd like. I do, just to make it easier to find those "jobs" in my tracking. How you add that identifier is kind of up to you. The important aspect is that no 2 invoices ever have the same number. As far as I'm aware the only rule regarding invoice numbers is that the be unique. (If VAT is different and someone knows, please comment to let me know I'm mistaken for VAT).

For a client ID:
You could use a range of things...
from #001-001 where the first three digits would be the client ID
Or #AAA001 where the first 3 alpha characters are the client ID.

I, personally, add the year to my invoice numbers as well as a client identifier. As in 18AAAA0001 --18 for the year AAAA for the client, followed by the actual invoice number. This allows me to typically keep invoice numbers to 4 digits since the year changes every 12 months. So I can have unique invoices numbers such as 17AAAA0300 and 18AAAA0300.

In a list, this generally sorts the numbers by year-client-invoice which I find helpful.

Merely forward thinking -- I'd suggest all invoices have a minimum of 4 digits (if not 5 or 6) with leading zeroes. It'll merely makes things more organized once you start getting a record of many invoices.

The gov.uk website has some useful information on how to invoice customers and what information needs to be included on an invoice. See https://www.gov.uk/invoicing-and-taking-payment-from-customers.

Invoice numbers need to be unique across the business, not per customer:

You must include ... a unique identification number

There are some additional requirements for VAT invoices:

Include the following on your invoice ... a unique invoice number that follows on from the last invoice

A single sequential counter for numbering your invoices as you send them fulfills this, eg: invoice 1 to client A, invoice 2 to client B, invoice 3 to client A, and so on.

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.