April 3, 2020

Invoices and service contracts: All you need to know, including Templates

Invoices and service contracts: All you need to know about "Honorarnote" and "Werkvertrag" (including Templates)

Those who set up their own business or are only employed on a low income (geringfügig) basis usually have to use invoices to bill for their work. Here you can find out the most important information about billing.

As a freelancer, you will most likely use an invoice for your work regardless of whether you work part-time or earn more.

It is also possible to charge for your work within the framework of a service contract (Werkvertrag). A service contract has different characteristics than a typical invoice (Honorarnote).

A small tip: What follows is general information. Please check what your personal requirements are with a tax advisor and with the information offices of the Chamber of Labour, WKO and SVA.

Invoicing ("Honorarnote")

What is an invoice (Honorarnote)?

An invoice is something that freelancers and self-employed people issue to clients and employers to bill for their services.

Taxes and social security

The person who issues an invoice is always responsible for paying the taxes and social security contributions they are liable for. An invoice is mainly used for the settlement of smaller amounts of work for which no employment relationship needs to be created.

In the case of earnings of up to the low income threshold of EUR 446.81 (Geringfügigkeitsgrenze), the addition of the following (in German): ““Steuerbefreit – Kleinunternehmer gemäß §6(1)27 UStG” must be included. Variations with the same content are also possible.

You should also include (in German): “Ich erkläre, für die steuerliche Erfassung des Betrags selbst zu sorgen” which means that you will take care of tax responsibilities yourself.

Examples and templates

Download (in German)PDF: Honorarnote steuerbefreit nach Kleinunternehmerregelung
Download (in German)PDF: Honorarnote nicht steuerbefreit, mit USt


Service contract ("Werkvertrag")

What is a service contract?

A service contract exists when someone takes on the production of work in return for payment. In contrast to an employment contract, the result of the service is decisive. The contractor owes a concrete and “tangible” work result defined in the contract for work and services which he must produce independently.

Difference between a service contract (Werkvertrag) and an invoice (Honorarnote)

In the case of a service contract, there is no so-called “continuing obligation” but a “target obligation”.
(Source in German:

Characteristics of a service contract

  • There is a guarantee for completion of services
  • There is no personal obligation to work. The work may also be outsourced.
  • Contractors use their own work equipment (e.g. laptop, tools, etc.)
  • The contractor is not integrated into the client’s organisation. He is not bound by instructions concerning the place of work, working hours or behaviour at work.
  • There exists no personal or economic dependency.
  • Be careful! As a rule, payment will only be made after the service has been rendered and the contract for work and services has expired. If the performance of the work takes a longer time, interim invoices are also possible.