Branded Program Documentation Series: Invoices

The second in a 4-part series where we explore the types of documentation needed to approve reimbursement claims for the Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast Branded Program.

by Katie LaBarge, Branded Program Associate, Food Export – Midwest

This is the second blog in a 4-part series where we will explore the types of documentation needed to approve reimbursement claims for the Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast Branded Program. You’ll find information on our requirements, tips, common mistakes and resolutions, and more. Other topics in this series will include: Proof of Payment, Proof of Activity, and U.S. Origin Statement.

The invoice is the first document we look for while reviewing claims.

The information found on the invoice can determine if an expense is eligible for reimbursement, so it is important to submit these documents with your claim.

There are 5 main parts of an invoice that we look for while reviewing claims:

1) Vendor

2)  Date

3)  Invoice Number

4)  Expenses Incurred/Services Rendered

5)  Amount Due

1. Vendor

The invoice must include the name of the vender or person/company providing the items/services, as well as your company as the buyer. The name of the vendor must match the name on your proof of payment. If the buyer’s name is not that of you or your company, you must provide some documentation that the buyers is connected with your company in some way.  

2. Date

The date of the invoice must be in the current program year and after your contract effective date in order to be eligible.  One exception to this is for tradeshow booth expenses that must be invoiced and paid months in advance in order to secure a place in the show.

3. Invoice Number

Invoices typically contain an invoice number. We may use this to differentiate between multiple invoices submitted from the same vendor.

4. Expenses Incurred/Services Rendered

The description of services will be used to determine if the expense is eligible for reimbursement. If the invoice is in a foreign language, a translation must be provided. In some cases, there may be both eligible and non-eligible expenses on the same invoice. In this case, the reimbursement will be prorated for the eligible amount.

5. Amount Due

Each invoice must include a total of the amount due. This can be in USD or foreign currency. It is important to note that while we need to see the total amount on the invoice, the amount of your reimbursement will ultimately be determined by the amount on your proof of payment.

Invoices for travel claims include all the same information but come in different forms. For a travel claim, you must include the following:

  • A flight itinerary and invoice
    • The invoice for your flights must include your complete flight itinerary, including flight times, numbers, and seat class, and price. A flight reimbursement may be prorated in the case that an upgrade is purchased.
  • A hotel folio
    • A hotel folio can be easily obtained from any hotel upon checkout. We must see the dates of check-in and check-out, as well as the nightly rate and total amount. Taxes and fees are reimbursable, but any other expenses (room service, laundry, etc.) will not be reimbursed. In the event that you book your accommodations on a travel website or stay in a rented apartment, you must provide an official summary of your stay that includes your check-in and out dates and nightly rate, and must be dated after your stay.

    Common Mistakes and Question: 

    • Receipts will only be accepted in the case that purchases are made in a store (i.e. items for sampling, booth construction)
    • Even though you will be providing us with proof of your payment, the invoice must include the total amount spent.
    • An invoice that shows a full payment or a zero balance does not count as proof of payment.
    • In most cases, invoices must be itemized. In order to determine eligibility, we need to know exactly what is being paid for.
    • Please be aware that when submitting an invoice from a part-time contractor, the hourly/daily rate will be reimbursed up to the maximum amount allowed to GS 15, Step 10 rates of the USDA General Pay Scale.

    If you ever have any questions about invoices, or any other claim documentation, please contact your Branded team. We are always here to help!