If you’re sending goods to customers it’s advisable to include a delivery note in the shipment. This article will explain the function of a delivery note and the part it plays in the sale of goods to customers.

What is a delivery note?

A delivery note is a document that is included with a shipment of goods sent out to a customer. It lists the description and amount of goods enclosed in the shipment. The delivery note does not usually list the price of the goods being delivered, that information will be on the invoice which follows shortly after.

A copy of a delivery note may be signed by the recipient and returned to the seller as proof of delivery. 

When do I need to issue a delivery note?

A delivery note will need to be issued whenever a shipment of goods is delivered to a customer.

Before you send a shipment to a customer make sure: 

  • the goods listed on the delivery note are all included in the package
  • the goods are in working order and/or are not damaged
  • that no additional goods are included that are not listed on the delivery note.

Once the customer receives the package they will:

  • check the contents of the package against the delivery note
  • sign the delivery note to confirm receipt of the goods.

If an item is missing or damaged the customer should contact the business they bought the goods from as soon as possible. If any of the goods are damaged, the person delivering the shipment on behalf of the customer should make a note of this on the delivery note. The supplier will then either send a replacement or raise a credit note for the damaged goods.

It is good practice to have two copies of each delivery note - one for your own records and one for the customer.

What information should I put on a delivery note?

The delivery note needs to list what is contained in a package - i.e. the number and description of the products included.

The document should also show:

  • your company details, including contact details in the event of a query
  • name and address of the company the goods are being delivered to
  • any product codes
  • date of issue of the document
  • date of delivery of goods.

It may also be useful to show which items are not included, for example the customer may have ordered something which is out of stock.

If you use a third party to deliver your goods, a courier company for example, you may wish to include delivery instructions as well. For example, if you are selling goods to a restaurant which doesn't open until 10am, add a comment that the goods should be delivered after 10am - otherwise you could be paying for a wasted trip!

How can I issue a delivery note?

  • Paper

Delivery notes are usually issued in paper format and sent with a shipment of goods. 

  • Electronic

Delivery notes can be emailed prior to delivery, however it is more common that they are sent in paper format with the goods.

Ready-made printed delivery note pads can be bought from a stationery shop or website. There are also plenty of editable templates available online that can be downloaded for free -  by entering ‘delivery note’ into a search engine will bring up a selection of choices. 

Alternatively, accounting software providers also include various templates, either as part of their packages or to buy separately. Examples include:

Do I need to keep a copy of all delivery notes?

Delivery notes should be kept until the invoice for the goods is raised. The delivery note should then be attached to the invoice and kept for a period of six years. 

Interactive tutorial: Recording income

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The step-by-step guide takes you through:

  • Types of income 
  • Documents used when goods or services are sold
  • Different payment methods
  • VAT - including limits and registration.

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