All About the Proforma Invoice

In the complex world of international trade, a smooth flow of goods and payments is crucial for buyers and sellers. The proforma invoice is an essential document that plays a pivotal role in this process. Often misunderstood or overlooked, the proforma invoice is much more than a preliminary bill of sale. So, keeping this in mind, let’s explore proforma invoice meaning, purpose, Proforma sample, and other things in detail.

What is a Proforma Invoice?

Proforma invoice is a preliminary bill of sale sent by a seller to a buyer before the actual shipment of goods or services. Compared to a commercial invoice, it does not function as a payment request but acts as a formal pact between the buyer and seller. It plays a crucial role in enhancing mutual understanding, aiding in seamless customs processes, and ensuring international trade moves forward smoothly.

Detailed transaction information establishes a clear framework, fostering agreement and transparency between the involved parties. This document serves as a cornerstone for international trade, promoting a hassle-free flow of goods and services across borders.

When is a Proforma Invoice Used?

Proforma invoices are used in several situations in business transactions. Primarily, they are employed in international trade to provide detailed information about the upcoming transaction before goods are shipped.

They serve as preliminary agreements, outlining product details, quantities, prices, and terms, ensuring clarity between buyers and sellers. Proforma invoices are vital for customs clearance, helping authorities assess the value of imported goods and calculate taxes. 

Additionally, they act as formal quotations, allowing businesses to present pricing information to potential clients. Proforma invoices are also instrumental in securing trade financing, proving a legitimate transaction for financial institutions. In essence, proforma invoices are utilized whenever there’s a need for clear communication, legal documentation, and financial planning before the completion of a transaction.

What Is the Main Aim of a Proforma Invoice?

The purpose of a proforma invoice in international trade is multifaceted, serving both sellers and buyers. Let’s learn what the aim of this invoice: –

1. Clarity in Transaction Details

Proforma invoices provide a clear and detailed breakdown of the products or services, their quantities, specifications, and prices. This clarity ensures both parties understand the transaction’s scope, minimizing misunderstandings.

2. Securing Agreements

Proforma invoices are preliminary agreements between both parties. However, they outline the terms of the deal. Proforma invoices establish a foundation for the upcoming transaction by confirming these details.

3. Facilitating Customs Clearance

Customs authorities require accurate documentation for clearing imported goods. Proforma invoices serve this purpose by providing essential information about the shipment, aiding customs officials in determining applicable duties and taxes.

4. Trade Financing and Letters of Credit

Financial institutions often require proforma invoices when providing trade financing or issuing letters of credit. These documents demonstrate the transaction’s legitimacy, allowing businesses to secure the necessary funding for purchasing or producing goods.

5. Budgeting and Planning

For buyers, proforma invoices assist in budgeting and financial planning. They provide advanced knowledge of costs, allowing businesses to allocate funds and plan their expenditures effectively.

6. Legal Protection and Dispute Resolution

While not legally binding, proforma invoices serve as written evidence of the agreement’s terms. In disputes, they can be referenced to resolve disagreements and establish the initial understanding between the parties.

7. Order Confirmation

Proforma invoices serve as formal confirmations of orders placed by buyers. They validate the buyer’s intent to purchase specific goods or services, ensuring that both parties agree before the transaction occurs.

8. Professionalism and Trust

A well-structured proforma invoice demonstrates professionalism and builds trust between the buyer and seller. It showcases the seller’s commitment to transparency and clear communication, fostering positive business relationships.

What Are the Important Fields in the Pr0forma Invoice?

The fields in a proforma invoice typically include:

1. Header Information

  • Proforma Invoice Number: A different identifier for tracking and reference purposes.
  • Date of Issuance: The time or date when the proforma invoice is created, indicating the timeframe of the offer’s validity.

2.Seller Details

  • Seller’s Name and Address: Clearly state the seller’s identity and location.
  • Contact Information: Phone number, email, or other contact details.

3. Buyer Details

  • Buyer’s Name and Address: Offering the buyer’s information to specify the recipient of the products.
  • Buyer’s Contact Information: Contact number, email address, and other information.

4. Description of Goods and Services

  • Itemized List: A detailed analysis of the products being offered.
  • Quantity: The number of units or quantity of services being provided.
  • Unit Price: The price per unit or service.
  • Total Price: Calculated by multiplying the quantity with the unit price for each item.

5. Payment Terms

  • Currency: The specified monetary unit for processing the transaction.
  • Payment Method: Specifics regarding the mode of payment chosen for the transaction.
  • Payment Due Date: The prescribed deadline by which the payment is expected to be completed.

6. Shipping Information

  • Shipping Method: Shows whether goods will be shipped by which mode.
  • Shipping Address: The address where the goods will land.
  • Delivery Date: The approximate date the goods are expected to reach.

7. Extra Terms and Conditions

  • Validity Period: The timeframe during which the proforma invoice is valid, after which the terms may be subject to change.
  • Special Instructions: Any specific requirements or instructions related to the order.
  • Terms of Sale: A Clear explanation of the responsibilities of both parties regarding shipping, insurance, and other relevant aspects of the transaction.

8.  Authorized Signature

The proforma invoice might include a space for the seller’s authorized representative to sign, indicating the document’s authenticity.

Proforma Invoice Sample

Proforma Invoice Format

Invoice Number: PI123456

Date: October 18, 2023


ABC Company

123 Street

City, State, ZIP Code




XYZ Corporation


City, State, ZIP Code

Phone Number


Description of Goods/Services:

Item No. Description Quantity Unit Price (In Rupees) Total Price (In Rupees)
001 Widget A 100 10.00 1,000.00
002 Widget B 50 15.00 750.00
003 Service: Consulting 20 hours 50.00 1,000.00

Payment Terms:

Total Amount: 2,750 Rupees

Currency: Rupees

Payment Method

Payment Due Date:

Validity of Proforma Invoice:

This proforma invoice is valid until October 31, 2023.

Additional Notes:

All payments must be made in full by the due date to initiate the order.

Goods/services will be shipped/provided upon receipt of payment.

For inquiries, please get in touch with our sales department at or (123) 456-7890.

Authorized Signature:

[Your Name]

[Your Position]

ABC Company

Difference Between Proforma Invoice and Invoice

Aspect Proforma Invoice Invoice
Purpose A Preliminary document was sent before the shipment of goods. A Final document is issued after the goods are shipped.
Legally Binding It is not legally binding; it is a commitment to the transaction. Legally binding; demands payment for goods or services.
Payment Request Does not request payment; acts as a quotation indicating the terms of the sale. Requests payment; serves as a demand for payment from the buyer.
Customs Clearance Facilitates customs procedures by providing essential information about the shipment. Used for customs clearance, indicating the value of goods for taxation purposes.
Transaction Stage The initial stage of the transaction outlines the details before the deal is finalized. Concluding the transaction stage, confirming the sale, and specifying the payment due date.
Amendments It can be easily changed to accommodate changes in the order, quantities, or terms. Generally, it is not altered once issued, requiring additional documents for modifications.
Format Often labeled as “Proforma Invoice” and may contain the phrase “This is not a Tax Invoice.” Labeled as an “invoice” and includes all legal requirements, such as the invoice number and tax details.
Payment Terms Specifies the agreed-upon terms of payment but does not demand immediate payment. Includes the payment due date and any applicable penalties for late payments.
Legal Status It is not considered a legal document and does not create an obligation to purchase. A legally binding document that requires payment from the buyer.
Use in Trade Financing It can be used in trade financing applications to prove an upcoming transaction. Often required by financial institutions as evidence of a completed sale for financing purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the duration of a pro forma invoice?

This period for a proforma invoice differs from one business to another and can vary across different industries. It is explicitly stated on the proforma invoice itself, outlining the specific timeframe during which the terms and conditions of the transaction remain applicable.

2. Is a proforma invoice legally binding?

No, a proforma invoice is not legally binding. It serves as a commitment for the transaction but does not demand payment. It acts as a mutual understanding between both parties regarding the terms of the deal.

3. Can a proforma invoice be modified or amended?

Yes, a proforma invoice can be modified to accommodate changes in the order, quantities, or terms. However, any changes will be communicated and agreed upon by both parties.

4. What occurs if the buyer remains unresponsive throughout the invoice’s valid period?

Under these circumstances, the seller can prolong the validity period, initiate renegotiations on the terms, or cancel the transaction entirely. Nevertheless, alterations will only be made after thorough communication and mutual agreement between all parties engaged in the transaction.

5. Why is a proforma invoice important in international trade?

A proforma invoice is crucial for several reasons:

  • It provides clarity on transaction details.
  • It aids in customs clearance by providing necessary information about the shipment.
  • It serves as a basis for securing trade financing or letters of credit.
  • It acts as a confirmation of the order details for buyers and sellers.
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