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France Invoices for Goods



2:00 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I do a small amount of digital goods sales in France. The sales are all online transactions with Paypal, Google Checkout or credit card and it seems that often I am asked for an invoice.

The want for a company generated invoice seems to happen almost exclusively from France... Should the order payment success notification from the particular money processor work as an invoice or proof of purchase?

Heck, we do not generate invoices for these small sales. Perhaps someone knows about such online sales in FR?


3:10 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I would guess this is required for the local tax regime.

Why not give the option to create a downloadable version as part of the sale process?

I have a site that takes advertising for a printed magazine and I drop the user onto a printable invoice as the landing page after submitting the copy.


3:56 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

French companies need an invoice from you and not your processor ( said invoice can be emailed to the customer ) if they are to claim back the cost of goods or services from revenue / fiscal authorities here ..

French law says that all french companies or traders / shops / tradesmen etc must provide an invoice ( known as "facture") for goods or services purchased ..

The latter does not apply to foreign companies selling to France ..However few French people realise this ..

Some foreign companies take it a stage further ..for example godaddy charge VAT ( or as it is known in France TVA ) on purchases made from them in the USA if the online purchaser is in France ..This is shown on the purchase page in their system at the point of authorisation ..Thus their true prices are 19.6% higher than advertised "sticker" if the purchaser is in France ..but as the company is not in France then this is not illegal that they did not display their prices as marked HT..
It is in fact optional to them as a non french company if they wish to charge TVA or not ..

They then also email an invoice in confirmation..

However all French companies or traders etc are obliged by law to show the prices on their sites as inclusive of VAT/TVA ( prices shown thus are known as Toutes Taxes Comprises or TTC ) unless they are specifically selling only as B2B in which case they can show prices as HT ( "hors taxe" or "without taxes" ) ..french law obliges you to indicate which prices are HT ..<aside>Gandi for example doesn't do this ..( sooner or later it will get them into major trouble with the courts here ) ..as they are a French based company ..even though they only charge the "sticker" price to non European buyers ..all European buyers pay 19.6% on top ..

Those of us with European or French businesses pay the tax ..but "get it back" later via our accounting and fiscal systems ..private individuals based in France or Europe pay it ..but cannot "claim it back" ..This is why the law states that the prices indicated by companies based here must state clearly if TVA is included or not ..

I suspect that you are like godaddy not European or French based ..thus you can choose ? ..

My advice ..if I were you I'd choose not to get involved in TVA /VAT ..don't even mention on your sites whether it is included or not ( that will be fine and legal if you are not French based ..ie if you do not have what we call a "siret number" )..But you may want to auto generate an email invoice for your customers after they have purchased ..that way they will stop pestering you for one :)

Legally for the French customers it would just have to include your company name ,business registration number ..( if you have one ..UK limited companies do ) address, date , customer name, their address, brief description of the goods or service ..downloaded software for example would be "logiciel" ..the Price ..in whichever currency they got billed in ..and the mention "invoice/facture" ..

For our fiscal authorities in France..that will be fine ..

HTH :)


7:29 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Thank you so much for the thorough explaination.

To my couriosity, if it is a foriegn purchase which in this case it is, can the French company still make a business expense claim without the invoice, with just the processor sales receipt?


7:57 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Not normally ..the fiscal authorities here ..we just call them "le fisc" probably would disallow the claim ..

And what would worry the average French business more .would then maybe start looking more closely at the rest of the businesses accounts ..going back years ..and years ..this is known as a "control" ..or a "p****** control" ..and is a source of major unhappiness as many businesses here do not submit what would be called clean books :)

Claiming to have bought something from a foreign business without a facture is viewed by the fisc( I have friends who work for the fisc as inspectors ) as "taking the yellow liquid°" ..and as such entitles one to a control ..plus the individual inspector gets to keep tax free a percentage of what undeclared monies he or she may uncover ..( not many french businesses know the latter fact ) ..But they do not want to give the fisc a reason to look twice at any accounts presented to them :)

°BTW ..the French expression the inspectors would use is far more "colourful" than the English one to which I alluded ..

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