What is a Credit Note?

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It is inevitable for mistakes to occur; humans may make mistakes at some point, and the same goes for business. Though invoicing is an integral part of any business, you commonly might make some errors while making the invoices. 

A business may seem like a complete mess when invoicing errors occur. So what to do next? What happens if it goes out with the error? Refunding a payment is not feasible since the process is too complicated.

This is where the use of a credit note may prove helpful. 

What is a credit note, and what purpose it serves?

In the invoicing process, credit notes play an important role but are not always commonly used, so it’s sometimes a little challenging to understand how they work. However, they are an essential component of the process. 

By investing in invoice software like InvoiceOwl, you can make credit notes in a few minutes.

This article is for those seeking information about what is a credit note or credit memo, when to issue it, reasons to issue it, and other information. Here you will learn everything about credit notes and what you can do with them.

Meaning of Credit Note

The credit note can also be referred to as the credit memo or credit memorandum. Credit memos are a formal commercial document part of the billing and invoicing process. 

These documents are similar to invoices and purchase orders but serve different functions. This document acts as a receipt in the event of errors or changes to invoices or orders.

A portion or the entire invoice value can be covered by it, depending on the situation. With it, you can rectify any mistakes that could have been made between parties regarding their credit record without having to delete an existing invoice and create a new one. 

Therefore, it aids in keeping track of invoice sequences and provides audit trails. 

When to Issue Credit Note?

There are times when a credit note is required because there has been a mistake on an invoice that has already been issued, such as the wrong amount, or when a customer wishes to change the order they originally placed. Credit notes can be applied to any situation where it is necessary to update and reissue the invoice to address the issue.

As a general rule, several scenarios call for the issuance of a credit note, including

1. Error with the invoice 

Often, this can be such a problem as a mistake in the price listed on the invoice, an error in the product or order information, or a miscalculation of the discount or VAT. 

2. Order error 

Depending on the severity of an issue with a customer’s order, such as a damaged or incorrect item, it may range from a few minor issues with the order to something wrong.

3. Change of order 

When a buyer intends to change or cancel an order that has already been paid for or placed, they may do so either for internal reasons (i.e., management decisions) or external reasons (i.e., the buyer’s customer’s decisions).

4. Customer dissatisfaction 

It is possible that customers’ expectations do not align with what they receive. A product may have been listed incorrectly by the seller, its description may not have been accurate, or its quality may not have met expectations. 

Things to Consider When Creating a Credit Note

The information you need for a credit note will often be included in accounting software if you use it to generate invoices. However, if you choose to create credit notes by yourself, there are several factors that you need to consider. 

Since credit notes usually are amendments to an invoice, they refer to the attached invoice. 

The credit note is, in addition, an official document of a business. To keep accurate records for financial purposes, they must be accurate. 

To make a credit note in support of the original invoice, the following things need to be taken into account:

  • While you create credit notes, ensure that you include the exact date. 
  • On credit notes, the invoice number is often linked to the number of the credit note. 
  • Another factor you should consider while creating a credit node, either manually or through invoicing software like , is to ensure that you add an accurate customer reference number as it identifies a customer.
  • Credit terms (cash, credit, refund, etc.) for payments of the credit.
  • Please include information about your company (such as your name, contact information, etc.)

There is a small percentage of companies that provide this information. However, it is a good idea for you to ask. 

The credit memos you issue to your customers are essential to your business and can significantly impact your success. 

As credit memos are so crucial to your business, so rather than using ordinary accounting software, move to invoice software like InvoiceOwl that lets you issue a credit note to your customer without wasting much of your time. 

Reasons to Issue a Credit Note

Usually, there are several reasons mentioned below to issue a credit note: 

  • Due to the return of goods or the rejection of service items by the buyer due to faulty products or services.
  • Providing a buyer with a discount after the sale has been made.
  • A buyer accidentally paid more than required, or a seller collected more than necessary.
  • There was a difference between the quantity that was received by the customer and the quantity that had been billed.
  • The cancellation of unpaid invoices will occur as soon as possible.

To keep track of all the issues related to credit notes, each month’s GSTR-1 should include all the details. As soon as credit notes are amended, it is also necessary to include this information in the GSTR-1 of the respective month it is amended. As a result, GSTR-2A and GSTR-2B will be automatically reflected in the recipient’s GSTR-2A and GSTR-2B.

As a requirement of the GST Act section 34, all credit and debit notes must be reported to the IRP for e-invoicing.

Credit notes must meet the following conditions:

  • It should be issued within a specified timeframe.
  • There should be an invoice number attached to it. As a result of the new system, such links may not be necessary.

If you are facing challenges with creating credit notes, consider employing invoicing software like InvoiceOwl for your business. 

It is an essential tool that allows you to create credit memos in just a few clicks. 

Start with a free trial, and you will have a great time using it.

Know How InvoiceOwl Helps You With Credit Notes and Save Time

Create credit notes in just a few simple taps with InvoiceOwl and save up to 94% of your time!

Journal Entry for Credit Note (Buyer’s & Seller’s Books)

As part of a credit note double-entry accounting journal, a seller reduces revenues by debiting Sales Returns, and a buyer reduces assets by debiting Accounts Receivable debtors. In contrast, a buyer reduces liabilities by debiting Accounts Payable creditors and decreasing expenses by crediting Purchase Returns.

Buyers and sellers alike should enter the following double-entry journal entries into the general accounting ledger:

Credit note in sellers’ accounts

To demonstrate that a sales return journal has been posted to Accounts Receivable, a credit note must be issued to the buyer against the debtor’s outstanding balance. This is because a reduction or the nonpayment of an invoice originally recorded as Sales Revenue is now required by the buyer for the invoice to be paid.

Credit notes are entered in a seller’s accounting records as a debit in the Sales Returns account so that the revenue for sale is reduced and as a credit in the Accounts Receivable account so that the assets are reduced.

Transaction Debit Credit
Original Sale Accounts Receivable Sales Revenue
Seller sends credit note to buyer Sales Returns Accounts Receivable
Explanation: Revenue originally recorded as sales has been reduced Explanation: The reduction in assets reflects the reduction in payment from a debtor

Credit Note in Buyers’Accounts

A seller delivers a credit note to a buyer as evidence for an outstanding Purchase Returns journal. The Purchase Returns journal assists the debtor in reducing the Accounts Payable liability that the debtor has to pay to the creditor and reducing the original purchase expenditure that the debtor had to incur to complete the purchase.

Buyers record credit notes as debits in their Accounts Payable account to reduce their liability to creditors and as credits in their Purchase Returns account to reduce expenses.

Buyer (debtor) accounting journal entries: credit note

Transaction Debit Credit
The original purchase The purchase Account Payable
Sellers issue credit notes to buyers Accounts Payable Purchase Returns
Explanation: Liabilities reduce as creditor payments are reduced Explanation: For the original purchase, there is a reduction in expenses.

How Long Credit Note is Effective?

There is a legal requirement that a credit note and the relevant invoices must be kept for six years. 

While you must keep GDPR in mind when working with previous clients and delete their information if that client asks you to, you will still need to keep the financial information for legal and auditing reasons.

Small business owners should ensure that they clearly state these terms of use on their invoices and credit note to comply with these terms of use. 

The best thing to do is to ensure that these terms are laid out at the outset so that your clients know what to expect from the start. 

Having pre-set expectations also makes it easier to deal with difficult situations when you have set expectations that you need to meet.

Forget the Hassle of Managing Credit Notes Manually

InvoiceOwl knows the pain of creating credit notes manually, and this is the reason it helps you create them in just clicks!

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Is a credit note a cash refund?

    Customer questions like this may come up from time to time. However, a credit note does not always equate to a refund. A credit note may be used as a refund, or it may be used as a credit towards a future purchase. Whether your company answers that question depends on its policies and what your customers want.

  2. How do credit notes and debit notes differ?

    Sellers create credit notes to customers if they have purchased any product or service from them. The term “customer” can also refer to a buyer, and customers receive them when their original invoices contain errors or when they are dissatisfied.

    Customers issue debit note to businesses on behalf of their accounts. Debit notes are formally designed to be refunded or credited following the information outlined in the debit note.

  3. Does a credit memo have to be linked to an invoice?

    In no way! It is possible to issue a credit note for an incorrect invoice. If, on the other hand, a credit note is given to the customer and he does not yet have a bill, it can be applied to future bills.

  4. What is the difference between a credit note and an invoice?

    It’s important to note that a credit note is a negative invoice – what it does is inform the customer that they do not have to pay the entire amount mentioned in the original invoice. In some cases, a credit note could cancel out an invoice entirely if the credit memo amount is the same as what the invoice was for, or it could be for less than what the invoice was for.


Throughout running your business, you can be sure that invoicing your customers the wrong amount will happen from time to time. 

However, if it happens, creating and sending credit notes with as little hassle as possible will be of great assistance in saving your finance team time.

It is recommended that they be used to correct any invoices. The term refers to invoices that contain errors or are unsatisfactory to customers. Generally, they may or may not be referred to as refunds.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the founder of InvoiceOwl, a top-rated estimating and invoicing software that simplifies the invoicing and estimating processes for contractor businesses. Jeel holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Toronto, which has provided him with a strong foundation in business principles and practices. With understanding of the challenges faced by contractors, he conducted extensive research and developed a tool to streamline the invoicing and estimating processes for contractors. Read More

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