Forums · General English Grammar & Vocabulary, Listening & Speaking · General English Grammar Questions
When are they interchangeable? When are they different?
You can use the word "bill" as either a verb or noun in a business settting as well, but it is less precise than an invoice.
If I am eating a casual dinner out, I get a "bill" (or check, or tab) from the server, never an invoice. However, if I am having a catered event for 200, with a contract required to set it up, then I would have an invoice.
Also, my utilities and credit cards, etc., send me a bill, not an invoice.
There's probably not much difference in meaning. In either case you will have to pay!
Nevertheless, nobody is going to talk about paying their gas invoice or electric or phone invoice.
It appears to me that invoice is used for individual items and services requested by a customer and delivered by a provider. Bill is used for long-term contracts involving regularly repeated charges for services such as gas, water, garbage pick-up, electricity, and phone. Rent is a special case: You don't pay the rent bill, and you don't pay the rent invoice. You simply pay the rent.
That said, in large businesses, billing is the process of calculating the amounts to be charged to customers. Often thousands are calculated in a single, huge computer run. Invoicing is the process of transferring the appropriate amounts, names, and addresses onto the individual paper copies - the invoices - which will be mailed to the customers. Invoicing is also called "cutting invoices". In this specialized setting, then, you may hear such things as "Billing is complete, but invoices have not yet been cut."
Grammar GeekIn my experience, invoice is used only for business purpose. An invoice usually includes terms for payment, such as the fact that a late fee will be included after X days, or a discount applied if payment is received within Y days, etc.Please allow me to share my 2 cents with the forum. I deal with this quite a bit but it doesn’t mean it’s how everyone defines them.
Invoice is a piece of document which is used to acknowledge goods received or service rendered. It’s not a bill.
A bill is a notice for payment which is supposed to be preceded by an invoice in most cases.
That’s why there is a billing address, not an invoice address.
When you have the phone or cable company to come to your house to connect your cable TV or internet service, the technician will give you a service invoice after the subscribed worked is preformed. The bill will come later typically through the mail.
However, if you call a plumber or aircondition serviceman to fix a water leak or to recharge you air cond, he will ask for the payment on the spot when work is completed. Upon receiving the payment, he then will give you a receipt or invoice to acknowledge the received payment (either in check, cash or credit card).
Actually, that makes a lot of sense. The invoice represents a sale to the company issuing the invoice. The sale is considered to have taken place whether the money is received or not. The company can claim such transactions as sales in, for example, its quarterly report even if no customer has paid anything. The amounts still owed by customers are recorded as receivables.
The bill, on the other hand, is the notice to the customer that he must pay. When he pays, the company records it by subtracting it off the receivables. Nevertheless, that notice to pay is often labeled "Invoice". That's what makes it so confusing.
CalifJimGoodman,Thanks for adding the details I should have included in the first place.
1. Both invoice and bill are documents created by seller to inform the buyer about what was sold, in what quantities, how much money is due, and other terms and conditions.
2. The main purpose of both documents is to formally claim money from the buyer for what was supplied/delivered.
1. Invoice is used in B2B (business to business) setting while bill is used in B2C (business to consumer) setting.
Anonymous:very great analogy. i guess you are a seasoned accountant.
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