In which language should I draw up my invoices?
Suppose that I, as a Belgian company, have a non-Dutch-speaking customer. In which language should I draw up my invoice? At first sight, the answer may seem logical. To Dutch-speaking customers, you need to send an invoice in Dutch; to French-speaking customers, you need to send an invoice in French, and to other international customers, you need to send the English version. But, legally speaking, things work differently. We will explain it to you!
Language of the invoice = language of your language area
Taal van de factuur = taal van jouw taalgebied
As a Belgian company, you are subject to language legislation. The language spoken where you are located determines the language of your invoice. So, the language you use on your invoice depends on the language area in which your company's registered office is located. It does not matter what language your customer speaks.
- Is your enterprise located in the Flemish community? Then you must draw up your invoices in Dutch.
- If your place of business is in the French or German-speaking areas, the same rule applies. You must invoice in French or German, respectively.
- There is an exception! If your place of business is in the Brussels capital region, you may choose between Dutch and French.
But what if your customer does not understand the language of your community? For non-Belgian customers established in the European Economic Area (EEA), you may send a translation in addition to the invoice in the official language. Note: this must also be in the official language of one of the other countries in the EEA.
Tip: check your invoice carefully!
- Start by drawing up a correct invoice containing all the necessary and legally required elements. > View an example invoice.
- Do you need to send a translation? Check it thoroughly. Because if the original version and the translation do not correspond exactly, they may not be legally valid.
What if I have written my invoice in the wrong language?
Have you used the wrong language on an invoice? As long as your customer pays it, there is no problem. If they do not, you do have a problem.
To enforce payment of an unpaid invoice, you can go to court. But if your invoice is in the wrong language, you will lose. The judge can declare your invoice null and void for this reason, and that means he or she cannot order your debtor to pay it.
In short, avoid problems and quickly replace an invoice in the wrong language with an identical invoice in the right language.
In which language should my general terms and conditions be?
While the language rules for invoices are clear, no law prescribes in which language you must draw up your general terms and conditions. However, you must formulate them in an understandable language so that you can invoke them if a customer fails to pay.
It is therefore not sufficient to mention on your invoice that your general terms and conditions are also available in other languages. Send your customer your general terms and conditions in a language you are certain that he or she understands.
Would you like to collect your unpaid invoice?