If you are running a global business, knowing how to invoice international clients is important.
One of the most significant advantages of freelancing is that you can provide services or products on a global scale. Technology has made international transactions easy and pretty affordable. International clients can hire you via job sites. You can then communicate through video calls or messaging apps. Most importantly, project management and payments can also be made online.
Recognizing that international business transactions between freelancers and clients are possible means acknowledging that you must put extra effort into making sure that language, culture, and payments won’t be a problem.
Who says you can’t go global? If your business is something that can accommodate international clients, why not go for it? As a freelancer, you can take advantage of technology and find ways to further grow your business. If you think you can take on the challenge of accepting international gigs, go ahead and pursue it. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Explore Global Marketplaces
Online job marketplaces like job sites (job boards) and even social media open up opportunities for a global market. More often than not, active clients on job boards do not prioritize the location of freelancers, primarily if the job needed to be delivered can be done online. For instance, a website-building gig can be completed even if you live in different countries—or continents! The same goes for writing, translation, or social media marketing.
Clients looking for talents on job boards, job sites, or any online job marketplace typically look for skills and credentials more than location. So, create a killer profile on these platforms and state that you are accepting international clients.
2. Use Your Online Tools
The only way you can successfully and flawlessly carry out an international transaction is by using online tools. Since you will not be physically meeting your clients and may have time differences, you must ensure that the process will be easy both for you and your client. There are online collaboration tools for clients and freelancers like Freelance Management Systems (FMS). You will also need good communication platforms for video calling and messaging.
3. Read About Your Client’s Country
Running a global business is not limited to technical stuff like knowing how to invoice international clients. It is equally important that you have (at least) a general idea of your foreign client’s culture. This will help you build better relationships with them. Be sensitive to cultural differences and nuances. Cultural nuances are the differences in how individuals from various countries and cultures feel, think, and act. It can also be the different words and beliefs of people from other regions. So, be careful when you are doing a gig with a foreign client because what might be acceptable for you (for instance, with the design or phrases used) may be offensive to them. Learning a greeting from their language is also not a bad idea.
4. Establish Your Language
To address any miscommunications along the way, you have to establish your preferred language from the start. Be honest and tell your client that you only speak and write in American English, for example. If you speak other languages, you can also put that in your profile to draw more international clients. This way, clients can decide early on if they will be comfortable working with you. There may be clients who rely on online translations when communicating, and this could be risky as this may lead to misunderstandings. For this reason, it is absolutely important for you and your client to agree on what language to use for communication.
How to Invoice International Clients
There are some factors to consider when billing your foreign clients. Knowing how to invoice international clients properly will ensure that the payment process goes smoothly both for you and your client. Imagine the stress and headache when payment is delayed after you complete your project just because you and your client are not on the same page. So, consider these factors when invoicing your client:
Deciding on which currency to use should actually be agreed upon as early as the proposal and contract signing stage. To avoid problems, freelancers typically agree on the most common currency—the U.S. Dollar. When creating your invoice, indicate clearly that payments should be made in the currency that you have agreed upon.
2. Payment Terms
Another item that should be included in your invoice is your payment terms. However, this should also be established and agreed upon even before the deal is sealed. Payment terms must be stated in your proposals and contracts. The currency to be used, billing cycle (due dates), and payment methods must be clearly indicated in these documents. The payment terms in your invoice will only serve as a reminder of the said agreement.
Do not modify or change the agreed payment terms in your invoice. However, if there are any changes during the course of the project, these should be written and signed by both the client and you. Remember that you are running a business, so you have to be professional at all times. And, of course, protect your business by making sure any and every agreement are in black and white.
3. Payment Method
Keep in mind that not all payment channels are accepted internationally. Also, some payment platforms are not available globally. So, if you have a foreign client, you have to choose your preferred payment methods that are available in their country as well. Here are some payment methods you can offer your international clients:
- Bank / Wire Transfers
- Credit Cards
- Other Digital Payment Platforms (Paypal, Payoneer)
4. Invoice Tool
To ensure that you send out your invoice safely and on time, you can use online invoicing platforms. Nobody sends out international invoices through the postal service anymore. Imagine mailing your physical invoice right after the project was completed, but the client only receives it after a week or two. What’s worse is that if there are disputes or discrepancies in the invoice, you will have to send it again and wait for another few weeks! It could also get lost or damaged while in transit. Plus, it is an additional expense and time spent (going to the postal office) for you.
So relax, because there are convenient ways to send out an invoice to your international clients. Use invoicing software. It will only take minutes for you to create an invoice! Kosmo, a project management platform, has an invoice generation feature that is very user-friendly. All you have to do is input the necessary details on the template, and your invoice is done! You can even customize it by adding your logo and banner.
Writing Your International Invoice
In writing international invoices, you have to keep in mind that you must avoid all reasons for miscommunication at all times. And because language may be the ultimate culprit for invoice disputes, you must work on making your invoice as understandable as possible. Write in clear and simple sentences. Be mindful of your word choices too.
In the product or service descriptions, as much as possible, list every item. Make sure that everything discussed and agreed upon in the scope of work is there to avoid disputes. Use the same words and descriptions from the proposal or contract so your client can have a clear reference.
For your easy reference and filing, have a different invoice numbering system for local and international clients. This way, you can effortlessly search for them. Don’t worry; there are no strict rules in invoice numbering. You can develop your own system for it in a way that you can easily manage and track your invoices.
And of course, do not forget to indicate your client’s complete address and contact details. Because the invoice is an official document, you need to ensure that your foreign client’s details are complete. Especially if you are not familiar with how they write their addresses.
You are very lucky to be able to bring your business to the global market. Not all freelancers have the courage and capability to do so. And with this great opportunity, you have to be smart and considerate to avoid getting lost in translation.
Remember to always communicate consistently and clearly. As much as possible, record or document all transactions and activities for easy reference to both you and the client. Make use of online business solutions to promote your global business, build good relationships with your foreign clients and manage your business efficiently. And now that you know how to invoice international clients, you can be assured that your payment processes will run smoothly.
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