Invoice vs. bill: What are the differences?
The words “invoice” and “bill” are often interchangeable — but not always. Learn the important differences between the two so that you’ll know which one to send and why.
It’s important to understand the difference between an invoice and billing statement because neither word is just a synonym for the other. Although the two terms are closely related, and in some cases interchangeable, there are times when only one is correct. Moreover, whether you’re the sender or the receiver really determines using an invoice vs a bill.
The definition of an invoice.
An invoice is a business record used to describe and itemize products sold or services performed. It can be on paper or in a digital document such as a PDF. In addition to a description of the products or services provided, an invoice will state the amount due, the due date, and list the most recent previous payment.
If there’s an account dispute, invoices can be used as legal documents to support either side’s claim. An invoice will also identify remittance (or payment) instructions and can be authenticated using a secure e-signature system.
Is an invoice a bill?
They may seem the same, but a “bill” has a more subtle connotation. When you receive a bill, it implies a payment is due. Think about the itemized bill you received at the end of a restaurant purchase. In this case, the word “invoice” wouldn’t apply because you’re expected to pay your “bill” before leaving.
Invoice vs. bill — the real difference.
The difference between an invoice and a bill is often just how it’s perceived, depending on whether you’re the sender or the receiver. A company may send you an invoice for services performed but upon receipt you see it as a bill. Using the word invoice can imply that payment terms, such as NET-30 days, have been established — whereas a bill is a simple statement of what is due now.