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Past due invoices: How to write a payment reminder email (with templates)


What is a past due invoice?

A past due invoice is a bill from a business that hasn't been paid on time. The due date indicated on the invoice has passed, and payment is still missing.


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Most small business owners know the frustration of a past due invoice. In fact, you might be dealing with one right now.

The question is: How do you kindly and effectively follow up to make sure you get paid?

This guide is designed to help you feel more confident about how to follow up on late payments for past due invoices. It includes payment reminder templates to help you write professional, friendly emails to collect payments.

What is a past due invoice?

A past due invoice is a payment a customer hasn’t made by the due date agreed in the invoice payment terms.

Late payments on invoices can cause stagnant cash flow for small businesses. They can impact your ability to pay your bills, vendors, and employees on time. So when the due date for an invoice slips by, be proactive in chasing down your payment.

When you’re dealing with past due invoices, don't panic. Stay positive, even while you have to work a little harder to collect your pay.

How to write a payment reminder email

When you follow up on a past due invoice, you might find that life simply got ahead of a customer or that they were out of town when payment was due. While you want to keep a business-appropriate tone in your payment reminder emails, the first note should be just that: a reminder.

There are some straightforward elements to include when you write a past due invoice reminder. These can help ensure your customer has all the information needed to pay the overdue invoice. Be sure to include the following details:

  • The invoice number
  • The date the invoice was issued
  • The invoice due date
  • The transaction payment terms
  • The amount owed, including any late fees
  • Instructions for payment
  • Your phone number and contact information

Check your state's laws for any required grace period and the maximum allowable late fee to be sure your business's late fees are compliant.

This generic payment reminder template can help you stay on top of open invoices to be sure your customers pay them on time. Customize and save it so you can use it for your specific business's invoicing process.

Payment reminder email template

Subject line: [Your Business Name]: Follow up on Invoice #XXXXX for [Product/Service]

Body:

Hi [Customer’s Name],

I hope all is well. This email is a friendly reminder that your payment on invoice #XXXXX, which was sent on [sent date], is due [due date].

We wanted to take this opportunity to see if you’ve had a chance to look over the invoice and confirm that everything is ok and on track for payment by [due date]. Attached is the invoice for your review.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[Your Company Name]

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Past due invoice email templates

If you’re not automating reminders with a program like QuickBooks, starting with a payment reminder template can help you write a professional and friendly past due invoice letter. Customize these templates to your specific business, and match the tone of your customer relationship to them. These are meant to be guides to help you get started.

Day 1: The payment due date

If you haven’t received the payment by the due date, check to see if your customer even received the bill. If you use QuickBooks, you can see whether a customer has viewed their invoice, which can tip you off that they might have overlooked the email.

Either way, send a polite email reminder mentioning that perhaps the invoice has gotten lost in the shuffle. That might be enough to spur them into action. Or they might say “The check’s in the mail,” so you know the amount due is coming soon.


Invoice due email template

Subject line: [Your Business Name]: Invoice #XXXXX for [Product/Service] is due today

Body:

Hi [Customer’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well.

This email is to notify you that payment on invoice #XXXXX for the amount of [invoice amount], which was sent on [sent date], is due today.

We have not yet received payment on this invoice and ask that you kindly confirm an ETA for the payment. If payment is not received by [late fee penalty date], a late fee will be charged.

We hope to avoid a late fee penalty, so if you have any questions about this invoice, please let us know and we will be happy to clarify.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[Your Company Name]

Day 15: Two weeks late

If you haven’t received payment after your first reminder, it's a good time to reach out with a polite phone call. Reconfirm that your customer has the invoice, and see if they have any questions. 

Sometimes they've neglected to tell you that there’s some specific information they need for their own system, like a purchase order (PO) number. Or it could be that your invoice has been overlooked because one of your customer’s employees is out of the office. There's almost always a good reason why your invoice hasn’t been paid, so don’t be shy about asking.

You might also begin assessing late payment fees, but—this is important—only if you've already made the terms clear in your contract or onboarding process. Hitting a customer with an unexpected late fee could cause more animosity than it’s worth. However, it’s perfectly fine to state your terms for late payments upfront and then itemize them on the invoice.



15-day past due invoice email template

Subject line: [Your Business Name]: Invoice #XXXXX for [Product/Service] is 15 days PAST DUE

Body:

Hi [Customer’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well.

This email is to notify you that payment on invoice #XXXXX for the amount of [invoice amount] was due 15 days ago, on [due date].

We have not yet received payment on this invoice. [Optional, if applicable] As your invoice is now past its due date and grace period, a late fee of [amount] has been assessed.

The outstanding invoice amount is [invoice amount plus late fees, if applicable]. Attached is a copy of the invoice. You may make a payment here: [link to online payment or other payment methods].

Please update me with the status of your payment. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[Your Company Name]

Day 30: One month late

If you've already spoken with the customer, resend the invoice, along with any new charges. Reference the conversation you had and any concrete plans they had stated to send payment. In addition to email, you might send your invoice and payment reminder letter via snail mail to show that you're serious about collecting.

At this point, you might want to dial up your persistence. Be clear that you need to be paid and make sure you’re talking to the right person. If you are dealing with an accounting department, it might be time to get your client involved again as they have a vested interest in seeing you get paid in a timely fashion so the work can go on.

That’s because this is an ideal time frame to cease any current and future work. Politely let your client know via email that you will have to stop working on projects or products until the bills are current.


30-day past due invoice email template

Subject line: [Your Business Name]: Invoice #XXXXX for [Product/Service] is 30 days PAST DUE

Body:

Hi [Customer’s Name],

I am seeking your immediate attention to your invoice that is now 30 days past due.

Our records show that we have not yet received payment for invoice #XXXXX in the amount of [invoice amount], which was due on [due date].

[Optional, if applicable] As your invoice is past due, a late fee of [amount] has been assessed.

The outstanding invoice amount is [invoice amount plus late fees, if applicable] and is [number of days] past due. Attached is a copy of the invoice. You may make a payment here: [link to online payment or other payment methods].

Please let me know the status of your payment.

If your payment has already been sent, please disregard this notice. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to discuss payment plan options, please contact me at [contact number].

I appreciate you addressing this at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[Your Company Name]

Day 60: Two months late

Depending on how large of a payment you're pursuing and how determined you are to collect the full amount, you may want to consider:

  • Using an invoice factoring agency.
  • Sending the bill to a collections agency.
  • Writing the invoice off as bad debt and moving on.

Using an agency comes with its own costs, but they might be more successful in collecting your past due payment. Or it might be time to deem the payment a bad debt expense, or an uncollectible payment that becomes a business expense, if you don't get a payment from this final email. 


60-day past due invoice email template

Subject line: [Your Business Name]: Invoice #XXXXX for [Product/Service] is 60 days PAST DUE – please send payment ASAP

Body:

Hi [Customer’s Name],

This important message requires your immediate attention. I have reached out to you on several occasions regarding a now 60-day overdue payment.

I have not yet received your payment on the attached invoice #XXXXX for the amount of [amount], which was due on [due date]. Please be aware that, as per my payment terms, you may be charged additional [late fees or interest] on payments received more than [number of days] past the due date.

If your payment is still not received by [final date], your account will be referred to a collections agency. This can be avoided by submitting your payment as soon as possible.

Again, if you have any questions or concerns about this payment, please contact me at [contact number]. I hope we can settle this matter as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Company Name]

@quickbooks Reminding your customers about late payments doesn’t have to be awkward. Here are some #SmallBusinessTips on getting clients to pay their bills and invoices faster. #BusinessOwner #MediumBusiness #SmallBusinessTikTok #SmallBusinessOwner ♬ original sound - QuickBooks

How to prevent past due payments in the future

The past due invoice email templates can help you collect payments on invoices that are already overdue. There are steps you can take with other current customers and those you work with in the future to increase the likelihood of on-time payments.

1. Agree upfront to a preferred invoice payment process

For faster payments, hold the invoice conversation right at the start, before you do the work. If it’s too late for that, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always next time.

It can be easier to get payment if you’ve determined these two specific logistics of what your client wants and needs in an invoice:

  • Who should get the invoice: Sometimes it’s the client, sometimes it’s the accounting department, or even both. Make sure you know the procedure to expedite smoother, faster payment.
  • How they like to pay: Offering your customers more payment options, such as credit card, eCheck, or direct ACH bank transfer, ensures that there’s not a holdup for an easily avoidable reason.

It’s an extremely common situation: a client becomes accustomed to paying for almost everything one way, only to become inconvenienced when that payment method isn’t available. If they pay for everything by credit card, and you’re asking for a check, they may not ever find the time to locate their checkbook, get a stamp, and put the check in the mail.

If your client hasn’t paid you on time, asking, “Would you prefer to pay another way?” might be all it takes to get paid on time in the future. QuickBooks Payments offers payment methods like credit and debit cards, ACH bank transfers, Apple PayⓇ, PayPal, and Venmo, and pay instantly online to give clients a choice about the easiest way to pay.

2. Clarify what your customer is paying for and when it's due

Clients are more likely to pay on time when the invoice makes what they’re paying for crystal clear. That’s why you want to make sure you’ve included all the information a client needs.

This could include:

  • Consultation time
  • Hours spent on specific tasks
  • Research time
  • Distinct project numbers for pre-defined deliverables
  • Cost of materials

If you haven’t yet cataloged your products or services, it’s a worthwhile exercise that can make everything from marketing your business to sending invoices more efficient in the future.

You should also check that your payment terms and due date are featured in a prominent place on your invoice design. Without clear payment terms, it’s your word against theirs when an invoice is actually “late.”

It's tempting to mark an invoice with “due upon receipt,” but that can be confusing to some clients. Adding a date gives them a concrete target to meet. The most common payment term is “Net 30,” which means the recipient must pay their invoice within 30 days of the invoice date.

Then be proactive and remind customers of their outstanding payments. Sending a reminder that their payment is due next week gives them a heads up. It might get the money you’re owed in your hands more quickly.

3. Establish a process for following up on past due invoices

Having “the conversation” about past due payments can be a source of anxiety, especially when paying your own bills on time depends on cash flow from invoices. Having a system for following up on late payments can help you to feel calm and move on to your other work.

Saving your customized versions of the payment reminder email templates in this article can make your manual invoice follow-up process faster in the future. Accounting software like QuickBooks lets you set up automatic invoice reminders for overdue payments. You can also keep tabs on open invoices, sort them by client and due date, and track payments in real time.

Friendly reminders can help you get paid

No business owner wants to deal with past due invoices, but most encounter late payments at some point. Keeping templates handy for friendly payment reminder emails boosts your odds of getting paid quickly. In most situations, all you’ll need to do is send a simple follow-up reminder email and your payment will be on its way. 

By proactively setting up a process for clear communication and organized invoice follow-up, you’ll be able to focus more on doing the work and growing your business, and less time worrying about getting paid.

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  • “Get paid 4x faster”: 'Four times faster’ based on U.S. customers using QuickBooks Online invoice tracking and payment features, compared to customers not using these features, from Aug 2021 to Jul 2022.

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