What is the service period?
Since 2005, companies have been obliged according to Section 14 Paragraph 4 Sentence 1 No. 6 UStG to show the date of performance or the service period on invoices even if the invoice date is the same as the service date or delivery date.
Short definition: period of performance
The service period is the period in which the goods or services are delivered to the buyer. The service period for the delivery of physical objects or works deliveries is usually not a period, but a date. In contrast to this, the service period for services is the entire period in which the service was provided.
The service period in detail
Every seller is subject to the legal obligation to indicate the service period or the service date on their invoices. As a rule, it always describes the period at which the manufacturer hands over his goods or services to the customer. If it is the same as the invoice date, the note “service date corresponds to the invoice date” can also be shown on the invoice. In the case of services that are provided over a longer period of time, the service date is always the date on which the service was provided. If the service extends over a long period of time, it is sufficient to state the month in which the service was provided.
What are the differences between the service date, delivery date and invoice date?
In common parlance, a distinction is often only made between the delivery date and the service date. One always speaks of a delivery date when it comes to the delivery of physical objects. The date on which the ordered goods are delivered to the customer is therefore the delivery date.
In contrast, the term performance date is used in connection with the provision of services. It is the completion date, i.e. exactly the date on which the service was completed.
Ultimately, however, every invoice must also have an invoice date. This date can differ from the delivery date and the service date and always refers to the time at which the invoice was submitted.
Different delivery and service times
The time of delivery and the time of performance can differ, whereby different types of delivery can be agreed. Depending on the contractual agreement, the cost of delivery is borne either by the buyer or the seller.
What is an “ex works” delivery?
If the customer agrees on delivery “ex works”, he must either pick up the ordered goods himself or through an appropriate carrier at the seller’s production site and is responsible for the transport himself. In the case of delivery “ex works”, the manufacturer is only obliged to make the goods available at the agreed time.
What is “free delivery”?
In the case of delivery “free domicile” the customer does not incur any delivery or shipping costs. The costs for the delivery of the goods are therefore borne in full by the seller. The supplier can also be held responsible for possible damage to the goods on the way to the customer.
What is a “moving delivery”?
A “moving delivery” is used in connection with chain transactions in which at least three contractual partners are involved in the transaction. The “moving delivery” is always the first delivery in the sales chain, whereby it is decisive which party instructs the freight forwarder to “move” the goods.
Special feature of the turn of the year: performance in the old financial year, invoice in the new
If the service is provided in the old financial year and the billing in the new one, the matter must be posted in such a way that an allocation to the period can be ensured. Liabilities must therefore be shown in the old financial year, whereby input tax can only be deducted when the invoice is received in the new financial year.
Mandatory information for invoices
The service period in an invoice is one of many details that must be taken into account when creating the invoice. The content and form of an invoice are regulated by law and include a number of other mandatory information in addition to the performance date . The following information is mandatory:
- Date of invoice
- Consecutive invoice number
- Name and address of the supplying or performing company
- Name and address of the recipient of the service
- Sales tax identification and tax number
- Delivery time ( performance period or performance date)
- Customary designation as well as the quantity and scope of the goods or services supplied
- Fee for delivery / other service, including information about the applicable tax rate and information about applicable tax exemptions
- Agreed reductions in remuneration (e.g. discount )