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Pro Forma Invoice


A Pro Forma Invoice is a preliminary bill of sale sent to buyers ahead of a shipment or delivery of goods. It details the items to be sent, quantities, and prices. This document serves as a commitment on part of the seller to deliver the products or services as notified to the buyer for a specific price.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Pro Forma Invoice” is: Pro: ProʊForma: ˈfɔːrməInvoice: ɪnˈvɔɪs

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Pro Forma Invoice is a preliminary bill of sale that provides information about the products or services to be sold. Essentially, it gives the buyer a clear picture of what they are purchasing before the transaction is finalized.</li><li>Even though a Pro Forma Invoice includes the details of the goods or services, it cannot be considered as a true invoice because the details of the transaction might change. Therefore, it doesn’t serve as a legally binding agreement.</li><li>On the flip side, Pro Forma Invoices are flexible and can be adjusted as per changes in the transaction. They are highly useful in international trade where buyer and seller may require details of the transaction before the final delivery like customs processes or obtaining import licenses.</li></ol>


A Pro Forma Invoice is vital in business and finance because it serves as a preliminary bill of sale. It is often sent to buyers before a transaction is finalized or delivery is made. The primary purpose is to provide the buyer with precise sale details – outlining the price, quantities, shipping costs, and other relevant information about the product or service being sold. Moreover, this invoice assists in avoiding misunderstandings between buyer and seller by clearly specifying the terms and conditions of the transaction. Also, in international trade, it is often used for customs purposes on imports. Therefore, a Pro Forma Invoice is an essential tool for effective and transparent business transactions.


A pro forma invoice plays a significant role in international trade and transactions by giving buyers a clear picture of their forthcoming monetary obligations. Essentially used as a preliminary bill, this document is sent to buyers in advance of a shipment or delivery of goods. Its main purpose is to outline the transaction details, allowing the buyers to see the expected cost. Not only does it help in understanding the financial commitment, but it’s also used for customs purposes in importation.While a pro forma invoice might not be a legally binding document, it serves as a commitment from the seller to sell goods at the quoted prices and terms. It aids in decision-making, enabling the buyer to decide whether or not to go on with the transaction. Sometimes, these invoices are used by buyers to secure financial credit to finalize the purchase. Thus, whether it’s for budgeting, arranging logistic operations, or obtaining a letter of credit, a pro forma invoice plays a vital role in smoothing the process of business transactions.


1. Manufacturing Company: An electronics manufacturing company based in the USA might send a pro forma invoice to a retail company in Australia who wants to order a bulk shipment of televisions. The invoice provides necessary details like description of products, quantities, prices, shipping costs, date of shipment and other terms of sale, allowing the buyer to arrange for the needed funds.2. Online Product Sales: An e-commerce business dealing with global customers often uses pro forma invoices. For example, a seller based in Spain selling handmade leather goods could send a pro forma invoice to a buyer in Canada who orders a large number of items. This ensures that both parties understand the cost, shipping, and delivery expectations before the goods are produced and shipped.3. Service Rendering: A UK-based digital marketing agency plans to deliver services to a Canadian company. Before starting with the project or service, it might send a pro forma invoice detailing the cost of services, necessary taxes, and payment due date. The Canadian company could use this document to get budget approval for these services.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Pro Forma Invoice?

A Pro Forma Invoice is an initial bill of sale sent to buyers before a transaction is finalized. It contains a detailed description of the items to be sold, including quantities, prices, shipping details, and other relevant terms of sale.

When should a Pro Forma Invoice be used?

A Pro Forma Invoice is typically used in international trade. It’s often used when the buyer and seller have yet to finalize the specifics of a transaction but want to define expectations about costs, product details, and delivery terms.

Is a Pro Forma Invoice a legal document?

No, a Pro Forma Invoice is not a legally binding document. It is simply a commitment from the seller to sell goods at specified prices under certain conditions.

What is the difference between a Pro Forma Invoice and a regular Invoice?

A regular Invoice is sent after a transaction has been completed, while a Pro Forma Invoice is sent before the transaction is finalized. The regular invoice is used for record-keeping and is a legal document, while the Pro Forma is simply a quote of costs prior to the actual transaction.

Can a Pro Forma Invoice be used for customs purposes?

Yes, a Pro Forma Invoice can be used to provide information necessary for customs procedures during importation processes. It states what the goods are, how much they cost, and where they should be sent.

What information should a Pro Forma Invoice include?

A Pro Forma Invoice should include item descriptions, prices, quantities, shipping charges, delivery details, any additional charges, and the total amount expected to be paid. It should also include the seller’s and buyer’s contact information.

Can the final invoice differ from the Pro Forma Invoice?

Yes, the final invoice, also known as the commercial invoice, can differ from the Pro Forma Invoice. Changes may occur due to modifications in the items ordered, fluctuations in exchange rates, shipping costs, or other unexpected factors.

How long is a Pro Forma Invoice valid for?

The validity period of a Pro Forma Invoice is set by the seller and should be indicated clearly on the document. This period could range from weeks to months, depending on the seller’s policy.

Related Finance Terms

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Import/Export Documentation
  • Payment Terms
  • International Trade
  • Customs Declaration

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