Quote, Proforma, or Invoice?

15/01/2024 4 min Administration / Business in the Netherlands

What is the difference between a commercial document and an accounting document? Which document is a business custom and which is a fiscal obligation? Quote, proforma, and invoice – learn their role in the sales process in the Netherlands.

Quote in the Netherlands

The quote regulates the terms of the transaction, i.e., it defines the basic agreements between the contractor and the client.

Main features of the quote:

  • Contains a detailed description of the goods or service.
  • Indicates the price and payment terms.
  • It is a proposal that can be accepted or rejected by the customer.

When and how to use a quote?

Before starting each new assignment, it is worth presenting a quote, although it is not your duty. Agreements included in the quote are legally binding on both parties. This means that in the event of a dispute, the quote is formally as important a document as a contract.

Do you have to add another administrative task and create an additional document before each project? Not in eFaktura.nl, where the QUOTES function is integrated with invoicing. Start the project with a QUOTE and send it straight from the program. Has the client accepted the terms of the quote? One CLICK is enough and the offer will turn into a ready invoice.

Read how a good administration program improves the entrepreneur’s workflow HERE.

Proforma Invoice in the Netherlands

Proforma is a commercial offer with payment data, so it can be the basis for payment for a product or service. It is often also used to collect part of the payment in the form of an advance.

Unlike an invoice, proforma does not obligate payment and, above all, is not a fiscal document. After a transaction based on a proforma invoice, it is necessary to issue a proper invoice with a note in the remarks about the previously made payment.

Main features of the proforma invoice:

  • Contains the same information as a standard invoice, including price, description, quantity, etc.
  • It is not an accounting document, which means it is not used for tax settlements or other accounting purposes.
  • Informs about the expected amount to be paid.

Do you have to issue a proforma invoice in the Netherlands?

No. Proforma is rather a commercial custom, not a fiscal requirement.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the role of proforma is fully fulfilled by a commercial quote, and payment, even in the case of prepayment, is made on the basis of an invoice. Proforma in these countries is most useful in situations related to foreign imports, where the buyer wants to have all the data necessary for customs clearance. Entrepreneurs from Poland and Germany, however, willingly use the proforma invoice.

Want to better understand business customs in the Netherlands? Read HERE.

Invoice in the Netherlands

What is proof that a transaction has taken place between two business entities on specific commercial terms? Of course, an invoice!

The invoice also imposes a tax obligation, i.e., obliges the contractor to pay.

For the tax office, it is a key tax document, so absolute correctness is required from the entrepreneur when invoicing.

Main features of the invoice:

  • It is an accounting document.
  • Requires payment from the customer.
  • Can be used for tax and accounting purposes.
  • Contains all the details of the transaction, including the date, product description, quantity, price, tax, etc.

What to pay attention to when issuing an invoice?

The most common mistakes when issuing invoices are:

  • Incorrect numbering – take care of its continuation.
  • Mistake in the seller’s and/or buyer’s data – check the contractor’s data twice when adding them to your customer base.
  • Mistakes in the subject of the transaction, price, and VAT rate – pay attention to the transaction details.

eFaktura.nl minimizes the possibility of errors in invoices:

  • in the program, you will find only the VAT rates applicable to you,
  • automatically verify the EU VAT number of the contractor,
  • use your own customer base to avoid errors in the data,
  • made a mistake? Connect with an accountant in the program and let him fix the error on your behalf.

Although a quote, proforma invoice, and invoice may seem similar, each of them has its specific role in the sales process. A quote serves as a preliminary proposal, a proforma invoice in the Netherlands is a preliminary confirmation of the transaction, and an invoice is the final accounting document requiring payment. Understanding these differences will help in the smooth running of business and communication with customers.