Credit Note, Debit Note and Purchase Order

Last Updated
August 22, 2009

Credit Note

Issuing a credit note is almost the reversal of issuing an invoice. The customer must receive a copy in order to repay any VAT claimed, and you can recover any VAT paid. Credit notes, as with invoices, must have a sequential numbering system.

Debit or credit notes to be raised by one party and received by the other within one month of being discovered or agreed: further, in the ”details’ section of the note, a reference to the reason for the note (‘damaged goods’, ‘not delivered/received’) the invoice number and date (see section 7. HM Customs & Excise ‘The VAT Guide’ for full details).

Debit Note

The answer to most of these problems is to have a simple, effective and efficient system for customers to inform you of the issue at hand. For instance: if your customer gets a short delivery or goods are damaged in transit or the customer no longer requires some part of your goods/service, the customer (with your carefully considered authority) can issue a debit note to you for the amount in ‘dispute’.

For example:

Invoiced Amount £300.00
Customer sends to you
Debit Note for damaged goods £ 30.00
Cheque for £270.00

The original invoice remains the same: which ensures there is no delay due to the customer notifying you of the damage, and you then having to send either a credit note or a new invoice, prior to payment. Or you having received the £270.00 cheque and trying to find out why it is £30.00 short of the invoiced amount.

You may encounter a customer who insists on the use of debit notes. If used sensibly the debit note is a great advantage to both parties.

Purchase Order

The purchase order is not widely used in small business; however, it has many good uses. The purpose of the document is to confirm a precise order with a supplier.

On the order you can set out a full description of what is to be purchased, the price, delivery date and any other condition that is applicable.

Larger companies will issue a purchase order with a number of conditions clearly printed on the front or back of the order: the supplier by accepting the order, accepts the conditions.

You must take care if you issue a purchase order. Trying to cancel an order when the supplier has made/bought the goods can be very difficult and costly: for this reason, you should have a strict policy and system when issuing a purchase order.

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