Invoices, under french law, need to contain specific information defined by article L441-9 (previously article L441-3) of the French commercial code.

Two new items have been added to the list of mandatory information. This updated provision is applicable since the 1st of October 2019.

Invoices before the 1st of October 2019 already needed to contain the following information:

  • names of the parties and their addresses, 
  • date of sale or provision of services and the quantity, the precise name, and the unit price excluding VAT of the products sold and the services rendered, 
  • any price reduction acquired on the date of the sale or provision of services and directly linked to that sale or provision of services, excluding discounts not provided for on the invoice, 
  • date on which payment is to be made, 
  • discount conditions applicable in the event of payment on a date prior to that resulting from the application of the general conditions of sale, 
  • rate of penalties payable on the day following the payment date indicated on the invoice, 
  • amount of the fixed compensation for collection costs due to the creditor in the event of late payment.

As from 1 October 2019, invoices under French law will have to contain two new elements:

  • The number of the purchase order when it has been previously established by the buyer ; 
  • The billing address of the seller and the buyer if the latter is different from the address of the registered office.

Indeed article L441-3 of the French commercial code has been modified. These questions are now dealt under article L441-9 and two new items have been added to the list of mandatory information a French invoice must contain.

It seems important to remind that any failure to comply with these mandatory provisions is sanctionned by an administrative fine of up to 75,000 € for a natural person and 375,000 € for a legal person. If the breach is repeated within two years, the maximum fine incurred is increased to €150,000 for a natural person and €750,000 for a legal person .

To be complete, the invoice, as any other commercial document, must also contain additional information defined by another provision of the French Commercial code (Article R 123-237 of the French commercial code).

Invoices in France must also contain:

  • The unique identification number of the company issued in accordance with Article D. 123-235; 
  • The mention RCS followed by the name of the city where the registry is located; 
  • The address of its registered office; 
  • If the company has its registered office abroad, in addition to the information the invoice must also mention its name, legal form and registration number in the State where it has its registered office, if there is one.

All companies should therefore carefully check their invoice models to make sure they fully comply with these partially new French regulations.

Article written by Olivier VIBERT

Lawyer, Paris, France