The Difference Between a Pro Forma Invoice & Tax Invoice

Woman looking over invoices with a calculator
Woman looking over invoices with a calculator (Image: gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images)

A pro forma invoice is a general invoice itemizing the products or services included in a delivery to a buyer. A tax invoice is documentation used specifically with international shipments to denote the foreign sales tax applied to commercial goods.

Basic Differences

A pro forma invoice lays out the different products, services, quantities, itemized costs, weights and total costs for items included with a shipment. It serves as a record of transaction charges for both the customer and provider. A tax invoice must include a clear header, "Tax Invoice." It includes a company's registered tax identification number in a foreign country and denotes the foreign tax applied to the sale of goods, along with the actual cost of items.

Additional Details

A pro forma invoice also is referred to as a commercial invoice in some cases. Typically, a company uses a commercial invoice when it ships items for non-resale purposes. An international company sending basic promotional materials to prospects in a foreign country would likely use a commercial invoice. When the items shipped are intended for resale in the foreign country, tax must be added, and a tax invoice is used.

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