How to Write a Polite Past Due Invoice Email

As a freelancer, you really have to learn things beyond your expertise, such as writing a past due invoice email. Because not everyone gets a perfect client who is easy to work with and sends you your payment right away. It is fairly common to stumble upon a client who may be difficult to deal with or someone who has a cluttered schedule that they end up forgetting to pay you.

No matter what kind of client you get though, the important thing is you know how to create a past due invoice email should the need arises. This way, you will be prepared even if you get lucky and score an easy-to-work-with client right away.

Reminder About Clients

First things first, yes it can be very frustrating when you don’t get paid on time. Because you do your best to submit your deliverables on or before your deadline. So, why doesn’t your client do the same? Well, there are different circumstances for everyone. You need to be patient because you don’t know what is really going on with your client.

So, remember not to lose your cool. And simply send a past due invoice email. This will be discussed further below. Every client is different, when they miss a payment the first time, you can always let that slide. However, if it becomes a common occurrence, then you need to do something about it. Especially if they ignore your past due invoice email, you can simply ask your client what’s going on, or you let go of this gig and pursue other projects from new clients instead.

Tips on How to Write a Polite Past Due Invoice Email

paper with the words "past due" on it

Whenever you are dealing with a client or a customer, you need to be careful with your words. Email in particular can be tricky as it isn’t like talking to someone in person. The reader can’t really tell your tone or your voice. So here are a few tips to help you out:

• Keep a Professional Tone

There’s nothing more annoying than being told you are getting paid but not actually receiving it at the promised date and time. But, you have to remain professional. You can’t be passive-aggressive on your email either. Be as polite as if you are asking for another task from your client. You need to remain respectful, make your salutations and address your client properly, but be straight to the point. Check out the example below:

December 5, 2022

Hello Doe:

This is a firendly reminder regarding late payment for invoice #005, which was due on December 1, 2022.

• Always Attach the Original Invoice

When you send an email, make sure that you attach the original invoice which has all of the details of all your deliverables. If you need help with a proper invoice, you might want to use freelancer software like Kosmo. With this software, you just need to fill up all the details and it will generate the invoice for you.

But Kosmo can actually do more than create your invoice. It also allows you to choose a payment method, such as PayPal. And it can directly send an invoice to your client. There is even a space for notes and comments where you can create a message for your client regarding the late payment. If it is in your contract that you have penalties for late payments, this is the space where you can put that.

• Highlight Important Details

Sometimes the issue with clients is they are just so busy. You can make things easier for them by highlighting important details in your email. Set the following details in bold, highlight them, put them in another color, or underline them (anything to make them stand out):

  • Date of Email
  • Invoice Number
  • Due Date
  • Amount to be paid
  • Number of days payment is already late
  • Penalties for delayed payment (only if applicable)

Dealing with Late Payments

This is one of the problems freelancers have to face that employees don’t usually have to deal with. When you talk to clients, there is a chance that there are problems that may occur, one of which is late payments. If you don’t want to have to deal with writing and sending past due invoice emails all the time, here are some things you can do:

• Include penalties for late payments on your contract

It is important for every freelancer to have a contract with a client. It’s a way to protect yourself and also to ensure that your client will be getting their deliverables. Aside from writing all that you will promise to your client, you should also have a clause regarding late payments.

Make sure to point this out to your client and that they will agree to it. Of course, you can always give your client a grace period of a day or two for paying beyond the due date. But that is up to you. Remember that you are trying to make a living or running a business and you need money to come in time as you also have bills to pay. So, do the math of how much it will set you back when a client does not pay on time.

You can say that each late-day payment will incur a 1.5% penalty on the original invoice. Or you can set a fixed price of $1 for each day.

• Send invoices in advance (if possible)

Woman writing on a calendar on the month of October

You may send an invoice in advance to your client so that it will not be buried under other end-of-the-month bills. But, make sure that this is okay with your client. And this will also depend on your agreement. For example, if you have an agreement that you will be paid every 30th of the month, you may send your invoice on the 28th or 29th.

To help you keep track of all the invoices that you need to send out to clients, it’s best to utilize Kosmo’s invoicing tool. You’ll be able to see all of the clients you need to send an invoice to with the appropriate date on them. So, you don’t have to worry about missing out on sending invoices.

One reason a client may have missed paying you on the exact date is that you may have also overlooked sending an invoice to them. So, be sure to stay on top of all your invoices.

• Have a template on hand

When you are just starting out as a freelancer, you’ll need loads and loads of documents and contracts ready. This includes contracts and proposals. When you are making these, don’t forget to write a past due invoice email template too. This will make it easier in the future, you don’t have to write a new one every time you have a client who pays late.


Table with a laptop, eyeglasses, notebook, pens, and an alarm clock

Learning how to write a past due invoice email is a must for a freelancer. Even if you are lucky enough to never have to deal with a client who doesn’t pay on time, it’s still important to have this type of template on hand.

Remember that every client is different but the important thing is you remain professional and polite. You should learn to have boundaries and limits when it comes to clients. Because if they are late with their payment in just one day you can let it slide, but what if they keep saying tomorrow? When do you get your payment then? Aside from learning how to write it, you also need to know when to send that past due invoice email. (It’s a different story, of course, when the clients won’t pay their bill at all)

Get Organized & Win More Clients

Kosmo has everything you need to run your freelancing business.

Post written by:

Kosmo is a free All-In-One Workspace for Freelancers.