How to write a receipt - Finder UK

How to write a receipt

Issuing receipts can sound complicated, but it's actually pretty straightforward and helps your business as well as your customers.

Whether your business sells goods or services, you will normally have to issue a receipt to customers when they make a purchase.

This can be done in paper or electronically, and will also help you keep your business records in good order.

What is a receipt?

In a nutshell, a receipt is a document that says that someone has bought something from you. It is a proof of purchase.

Receipts can be useful in a number of situations: for example, a customer may ask for one for its own records, or to bring it back to their boss if expensing the purchase for work.

Customers will also normally need receipts if they want to return something they have purchased.

When do I need to write a receipt?

Receipts are not a legal requirement unless your business is VAT-registered. If that’s the case, your business must issue VAT invoices to keep track of how much VAT it charges and has to pay.

Even if you are not legally required to do so, you should still issue a receipt every time someone buys something from you. As we said, both your business and your clients may need it in a range of situations.

What information should a receipt include?

Receipts should include all basic information about the purchase:

  • Receipt number.
  • Name and address of the business.
  • Items purchased and price.
  • Date and time of the transaction.
  • Payment method (cash, debit card, and so on).
  • VAT charged (for VAT-registered businesses).
  • Returns policy if appropriate.

A template showing how to write a receipt

How can I issue a receipt?

Receipts can be issued electronically or on paper. Cash registers usually have both software that you can set up to automatically issue receipts, and a printer to print it out and give the customer their copy.

You can also ask the customer if they want the receipt sent to their email address, rather than printed out (the environment will be thankful). Similarly, if you trade online, you can make arrangements to send your electronic receipts via email.

If you prefer a more old school approach instead, you can simply manually write up your receipts. Just buy a receipt book from your local stationary and you are sorted. Receipt books usually make two copies of each receipt, one for you and one for the customer.

Do I need to keep a copy of all receipts?

You should, so that you can always check back what you’ve sold and when.

If your business is VAT-registered, you are legally required to keep copies of all the sales invoices you issue, and of all the purchase invoices for items that you buy.

If you run a limited company, you are required to keep your business records for six years, and so should you do with receipts. HMRC can always check your business records to make sure you are paying the right amount of tax.

Receipt vs invoice

Receipts and invoices are not the same thing: invoices are a request of payment in exchange for goods or services, while receipts are documents to prove that a payment was made and the purchase was completed.

Depending on how your business works, you can issue invoices, receipts or both. A way of keeping good records while limiting the paperwork is adding the date to each invoice once it has been paid, and send a copy as confirmation of payment received to your customer. This is in practice a receipt and can count as proof of purchase.

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