How to create legal Swiss invoices?

I just checked all the invoices I received in July.
And you know what? I surprisingly realized that some of them did not meet the requirements of the legal Swiss invoices.

What was missing?

  • Invoice date
  • Address
  • Invoice number
  • Terms of payment
  • Payment details
  • A clear list of invoice positions
  • VAT information even if you are not VAT registered
  • AVS information if you are self-employed

Due to these missing information, these freelancers/businesses increase their chances that I won't pay, or that I will simply delay my payment. Processing these invoices takes more time and energy.

In addition, these invoices are unprofessional.

Important to realize: an invoice is a business card.

Let's take a bad example:
this invoice that was given to us.

 How does this company want me to pay their bill if they forget to write how to pay the invoice?

No IBAN number, no bank account. Nothing. Thus, my only solution: call them or send them an email... 

fake facture

To complicate matters, there are different organizations making rules and influencing what you should put on your invoices:

  1. 1
    The Federal Tax Administration
  2. 2
    Federal Department of Finance, VAT Section
  3. 3
    Cantonal compensation fund for the AVS (Old Age and Survivors' Insurance)
  4. 4
    Large companies

Don't worry, in this article you will find all the information you need to create a legal Swiss invoice that meet all the customary conditions.

Besides we give you everything you need to generate beautiful legal Swiss invoices that your customers pay quickly!

Try EZYinvoice to create legal Swiss invoices.

Which are  payed quickly. 

Now with QR invoice included!

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Information on the legal Swiss invoices

Imagine, after sending an invoice to a customer, that customer calls you to tell you that some necessary information is missing on your invoice! A loss of image, time and energy.

Don't worry, I have gathered in a list all the required information by Swiss law as well as the information necessary for your customers to process your bill quickly.

The necessary information for the legal Swiss invoices

  1. 1
    Date: the invoice date defines when you inform your customer about the invoice.
  2. 2
    Name and address: your name or company name and address to clearly define who is invoicing.
  3. 3
    My VAT number: If you are not registered for VAT, enter "Not registered for VAT". Your customer will not have to contact you to ask if you are VAT registered and forgot to put your VAT number.
  4. 4
    The customer's name and address clearly define who you are billing. 
  5. 5
    The delivery date defines when you have delivered.
  6. 6
    The description of the product or service to clearly define what you have delivered.
  7. 7
    Prices and VAT rates must be clearly informed.

Recommended information to put on the legal Swiss invoices

  1. 1
    Terms of payment: In how many days the customer has to pay - usually 30 days in Switzerland. However, feel free to state 10 days to get paid faster.
  2. 2
    Payment account: IBAN number, name of the bank, name of the beneficiary of the account. Insert all the necessary information so that your customer sends you the money on the first try.
  3. 3
    Contact information: If your customer has a question, how can she/he get in touch with you? Include a phone number and an email. If your customer has a question about an invoice, you want to answer it as soon as possible so that your customer can make the payment as soon as possible.
  4. 4
    Invoice number: Each invoice has a unique number that makes your life easier when you have questions or during the accounting process.
  5. 5
    Logo: Customize your invoice with your unique logo
  6. 6
    QR Invoice: Add a QR Invoice - more information below. 
  7. 7
    Purchase order number for large companies: Large companies integrate your invoice into a complex purchasing management system. This system needs the purchase order number in order to quickly link your invoice to the purchase order. This is a mandatory step in large companies. Without it, the payment on your account will not be made.

The QR Invoice - give professional style to your invoices

QR incove

Have you ever received a QR Invoice like the image above?

Since July 1, 2020, it is possible to send QR invoices in Switzerland instead of a payment slip. At the bottom of the page, the usual ISR payment slip has been replaced by a QR code and text.

This change was made for two reasons:

  1. 1
    The ability to scan a QR code with your smartphone.
  2. 2
    Better traceability of financial transactions.

First, let's look at how to scan a QR code.

How to scan a QR code from an QR invoice

The QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can store a large amount of information. Therefore, if you have a smartphone, there are applications that can read QR codes to generate payment information in your e-banking without having to manually enter it.

Swiss banks have launched specific applications to scan a QR code and send it directly to your e-banking. To limit technical problems, preferably use your bank's official application.

When you send a QR invoice to your customer, one advantage is that the customer no longer needs to enter the amount, the reference number and your information in his e-banking. He simply scans them.

At the same time, he makes fewer typing errors and you get paid faster.

The QR invoice improves the traceability of financial transactions

Traceability of financial transactions has not been given much emphasis in the communication on the QR invoice.

However, it is a very important point. The European Union has modified the rules for financial institutions regarding tracing of financial transactions. Newly, information about the biller, the person paying the bill and the person receiving the money must be included in the bank transfer so that each financial institution at the beginning, middle or end of a financial transaction has a complete view of the transaction.

A little complicated? Simply put, your bank or your client's bank must be able to show who pays and who receives the money.

In the past, and especially with ISR, this was not the case.

With the current in-payment slip system, I can take my brother's bill, pay it at the post office and no one will know who actually paid the bill.

This is no longer possible with the QR invoice.

That is why paying with a QR invoice is faster, easier and offers better traceability.

How to create an QR invoice in 7 easy steps

To create a QR Invoice follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Ask your bank for the QR invoice registration - it's free.
  2. 2
    You receive your QR-IBAN which is different from your IBAN.
  3. 3
    Use an invoicing system that can generate QR invoices. (like which has a free version)
  4. 4
    Insert your QR-IBAN into your billing system.
  5. 5
    Activate the generation of QR invoice in your invoicing program.
  6. 6
    Fill in all the necessary information for your customer such as name, address and postal number.
  7. 7
    Generate the QR invoice.

Manage the collection of QR invoices

A clear advantage of a QR invoice is the large amount of information transmitted to your bank when your customer pays.

Your customer has scanned your QR invoice. The scanned data is transmitted to the bank. The probability of typing errors when inserting fields is zero.

When you look at your bank statement, it is therefore easier to reconcile the payment with the invoice.

Please note that not all banks have yet fully implemented QR invoice in ebanking.

Let's take an example, I paid a QR invoice from our account at the Cantonal Bank of Valais to our account at the Raiffeisen. I use this example because both banks can be connected automatically with EZYcount which on the one hand makes my accounting easier and saves me a lot of time.

The collection in the Raiffeisen ebanking system is very detailed with information about the customer, the reference number and even the invoice number! It's very easy to find the invoice and close it.

Now that you know the advantages, let's take a look at the disadvantages of QR invoices.

Disadvantages of QR invoice

There are currently two drawbacks when using QR invoice :

  • Some people and companies don't know what to do when they receive a QR invoice.
  • The IBAN of your bank account is not the same as the QR-IBAN which can lead to confusion and payment difficulties.

We have seen why it is interesting to make a QR invoice: easier to pay with fewer errors during payment, which facilitates the reconciliation of the invoice with the collection during the accounting.

The current challenge is that few people know how to pay a QR invoice.

Why add your AHV registration to your legal Swiss invoices?

If you are self-employed, I recommend that you add a copy of your AHV registration as a self-employed person to all your invoices to facilitate the processing of your invoice or at least to each first invoice sent to a client.

If your customer does not check that you are registered with the AHV - and by omission you are not registered - the compensation office can send the invoice for your social security charges for the amount invoiced directly to your customer. An unpleasant surprise for your customer and probably a difficult customer relationship to manage.

With this in mind we look at the AHV in more details in a future article.

How I get the confirmation of my registration with the AHV as a self-employed person?

In the first place, contact your AHV compensation office.

List of AHV offices in Switzerland:

All in all, it is possible to create beautiful legal Swiss invoices that can be paid quickly!

If you need a quick and easy tool to create invoices with a professional look and with which you can also do QR invoices, try which has been developed just for you.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Which invoice should be kept to archive?

Invoices must be kept for at least 10 years in Switzerland.

Invoices relating to the purchase and sale of real estate must be kept for at least 20 years.

What is the difference between the legal Swiss invoices and the receipts?

A receipt is a confirmation of payment which does not usually include the customer's name. Legally, from an amount of CHF 400, the receipt is no longer valid and an invoice must be requested. The invoice must include all the data required by law. More information here

What is a pro forma invoice?

The pro forma invoice or "for the form" is a not definitive invoice that is sent to the customer as an estimate.
Large companies require pro forma invoices to start the internal purchasing process.

What is a digital invoice?

A digital invoice is an invoice that is only on digital media such as a PDF or website.

Do I need to keep a paper or PDF copy of the invoices I send?

No, it is not necessary to keep a paper or PDF copy of sent invoices if your invoicing system keeps the information from the sent invoices. You can generate a copy of the sent invoice at any time, which is accepted by the tax authorities.


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