Branded Program Documentation Series: Proof of Payment

This first 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.

by Erin Crowley, International Marketing & Branded Program Associate, Food Export – Midwest

This is the first 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: Invoices, Proof of Activity, and U.S. Origin Statement.

If you’ve participated in the Branded Program before, you’ll know that proof of payment documentation can be one of the trickier forms of documentation, and we have fairly strict regulations to follow. The amount you receive in reimbursement is directly based off the amount showing as paid on your proof of payment documentation, so it’s one piece of paperwork that you don’t want to forget.

Food Export accepts the following 5 different types of payment documentation:

1. Credit card or bank statement

2. Cancelled check

3. Cash Receipt

4. Wire Transfer

5. Credit Memo

You must submit one of these documents as your proof of payment; an invoice showing a zero balance, or full payment does NOT count as your payment. In most cases, a receipt also does not count as your proof of payment.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these 5 types of payment.

1. Credit Card or Bank Statement

Credit Card StatementYou may send us your credit card or bank statement showing the payment made to the vendor. The statement must show the account holder’s name, the date of payment, vendor name, and amount paid, but you may black out any other non-relevant information on the statement. The statement should also clearly show that it’s from a banking institution. If photocopied, please make sure the text and numbers are clear and readable.

Common mistakes:

  • Only including the transaction, and not showing the account holder’s name on the documents. This may be the name of the company or an employee, but a handwritten name is not sufficient.
  • Blacking out information that is relevant to the claim, like the transaction amount.

Note: If you don’t have the full statement to submit (for example, if you submit a claim before your monthly statement comes out), you can usually access the individual transaction through your online banking portal. If you send us an image of the transaction, it must include all necessary information – date, vendor name, amount, and you must also include some documentation linking that transaction to your company account.  

2. Cancelled Check

Cancelled CheckWe must see either 1) the image of the front and back of the check or 2) the image of the front of the check, and a checking statement showing the date the check was posted (cashed/deposited). The vendor name and date must be legible.

Common mistakes:

  • Only including the image of the front of the check, and not the back.
  • Including a check paid by a bank account with a different name from your company. In this case, we need to see proof that the paying bank account is associated with your company.

3. Cash Receipt

Cash ReceiptCash receipts are ONLY accepted for payments of USD$1,000 or smaller. Any cash receipts over this amount will not be accepted and your claim cannot be reimbursed. The cash receipt must be marked ‘paid’, show the payee name, recipient name, date, time period worked, and services provided.

Common mistakes:

  • Not including all required information on cash receipt.
  • Including ineligible services or products on the receipt.
  • Expenses such as travel reimbursement, food and beverage, or tips are not eligible.

4. Wire Transfer

Wire TransferFor this type of payment, we must see the wire transfer confirmation; the wire request alone is not sufficient. The confirmation must show the account holder’s name, vendor’s name, amount, and the transfer completed date.

Common mistakes:

  • Sending the wire transfer request, instead of the confirmation. You can only submit your claim to us after the wire transfer has been completed.
  • Sending a wire transfer confirmation with only an account number on it, not the account holder’s name. If the wire transfer confirmation does not say the account holder’s name, you must submit another banking document that links the account number with your company’s name (for example, a bank statement from that account).

5. Credit Memo

Credit memos are mainly used as payment between U.S. companies and overseas agents (for example, a distributor). This type of proof of payment requires more documentation, but we are happy to help you through the paperwork.

Credit MemoWe will need a copy of your credit to the vendor, and we will also need your invoice to the vendor that the credit will be applied to. Once the credit is applied to the invoice, we must see the balance paid in full. We must see a bank statement showing a transaction between  you and the vendor. We recognize that in some cases the credit comes in the form of a line item deduction on your invoice to a vendor, which is also acceptable. Last, we will need to see the bill of lading or shipping freight receipt showing the items shipped. Each of these documents allows us to “close the payment circle” of the credit that was given to your overseas agent.

Common mistakes:

  • Not including the product invoice (or invoices) that the credit is applied to.
  • Not including the banking information showing the transaction which zeroes-out (or puts into negative, if the overseas agent pays more that the amount owed) the balance owed.  

If you’re collecting proof of payment documents from your overseas agent, we will accept the same types of payments listed above. If you and your importer or distributor are interested in taking advantage of the Branded Program, see our blog about Marketing Support for your Importer.

As always, if you have any questions on your reimbursement claim documentation, you can contact your Branded team, we’re here to help!