How to Write a Past Due Invoice Email
September 27, 2022
How to Write a Past Due Invoice Email (& Deal with Ghosting)
As a freelancer or business owner, chances are you’ve had to send at least one past-due invoice email or payment reminder. In fact, 54% of businesses are currently experiencing delays in payments due to pandemic-related challenges.
It can be tricky to get the wording just right, but with a little bit of guidance you can easily craft a message that gets your clients to pay up.
In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to write a past-due invoice email that will help you get paid faster. We’ll even provide sample email language to ensure your communication is clear and effective.
What is a Past Due Invoice Email?
A past-due invoice email is a reminder message you send to a client who hasn’t paid their invoice within the agreed-upon timeframe. This type of email is also sometimes called a late payment notice or an overdue invoice email.
Sending a past-due invoice email can effectively get your client’s attention and prompt them to take action.
The best time to send a past-due invoice email will vary depending on your individual situation and the payment terms that you’ve agreed upon with your client. It’s always best to err on the side of sooner rather than later. This will help ensure that your invoice doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and that you’re able to get paid in a timely manner.
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How to Write a Past Due Invoice Email (With Samples)
Asking for money (even when you’re owed) can be a challenging topic to bring up. But you’ve delivered the work and you deserve to be paid. With 49% of invoices ending up overdue, following up with your clients is crucial to keeping your business afloat.
The first step is to send a follow-up email as soon as the payment is late. It’s best to do this as part of your initial email thread, so that everything is in one place. If replying to your existing email thread doesn’t work, it’s time to follow up with a separate email.
The sooner you reach out, the better your chance of getting paid quickly. If you’re unsure what to say, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.
Past-Due Email Etiquette
Before jumping into sample language for your past-due invoice email, it’s important to understand a few key etiquette rules:
- Keep it professional. This isn’t the time to get emotional or angry—that will only make the situation worse.
- Be clear about what is owed and when payment is due. Include the invoice number and date, so there’s no confusion about what they’re being asked to pay.
- Be direct. Get to the point and avoid beating around the bush.
- Offer a solution. If they’re having trouble making payments, offer an alternative, like splitting up the payments or extending the due date.
Get Creative with Your Subject Line
With so many emails flooding our inboxes every day, it can be tough to get your message noticed. That’s why having a clear and attention-grabbing subject line for your past-due invoice email is important.
Here are a few examples of effective past-due invoice email subject lines:
- “Invoice #12345 – Payment Overdue”
- “Urgent: Invoice #12345 Past Due”
- “Reminder – Invoice #12345 Needs Your Attention”
KEEP READING: What Is Invoice Reconciliation?
Past-Due Invoice Email Samples
You can take various approaches to following up on a past-due invoice, depending on the terms of payment and/or how late the payment is.
If you’re writing a past-due email as a general follow-up after the invoice due date has passed, a simple and straightforward email will do.
Recent Due Date Email Template
Subject: Invoice #12345 – Payment Overdue
Hello [Client Name],
I hope you’re doing well. Just wanted to follow up with you about invoice #12345 for [$Amount]. The payment was due on [Date] and is now overdue. I’ve attached the invoice for your convenience.
When you get a chance, I would appreciate a response confirming payment and verifying that you received the invoice. If you have any questions or need help with payment options, please let me know.
Thank you for your time,
Overdue Payment Email Template
If the invoice is significantly overdue, you may want to be more direct in your language to prompt a response and/or payment.
Subject: Urgent: Invoice #12345 Past Due
Hello [Client Name],
I hope you’re doing well. I am writing to follow up on invoice #12345 for [$Amount]. The payment was due on [Date] and is now overdue by [amount of time]. I’ve attached your invoice for reference.
I understand that sometimes things come up, and payments can be delayed. If you need help with the payment or need more time, please let me know so we can work out a solution.
Can you please send a response confirming payment and verifying that you received the invoice?
Thank you for your time,
Final Notice Email Template
If you have not received any response to prior attempts at collecting a payment, it may be necessary to send a collections notice. This type of past-due invoice email should be reserved for extreme cases where multiple attempts to collect payment have been unsuccessful.
Subject: Reminder – Invoice #12345 Needs Your Attention
Hello [Client Name],
This is an urgent message regarding invoice #12345 for [$Amount]. The payment was due on [Date] and is now overdue by [amount of time].
I have attempted to reach out to you multiple times about this invoice but have not received a response.
Per our original agreement, please be aware additional late fees of [amount] may occur for every additional day of late payment. If I do not receive full payment by [date], I reserve the right to refer this account to collections.
Please contact me as soon as possible.
How to Handle Invoice Radio Silence
If you’ve sent a past-due invoice email and still haven’t heard back from the client, there are a few steps you can take to prompt a response.
Give Them a Call (and Be Human)
First, try giving them a call. If they don’t answer or you reach their voicemail, leave a brief message letting them know that you’re just following up on an invoice and to please call you back. This personal touch may be just what they need to remember that they owe you money.
It’s important to be human in your interactions. This past-due invoice email is likely just one small part of your client relationship. If you want to maintain a good working relationship with them, it’s important to handle this situation in a way that doesn’t damage that rapport.
Send a Certified Letter (or Another Type of Formal Notice)
If you’ve tried calling and still haven’t heard back, your next step is to send a certified letter. This formal notice will usually prompt a response from the client, even if it’s just to let you know that they received it.
You can also hire a collections agency at this point. If you decide to go this route, do your research and only work with a reputable agency.
What To Do If You Get Completely Ghosted
Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll do everything right and still get ghosted by a client. If this happens, don’t take it personally—it’s common for businesses of all sizes to struggle with late payments.
Take Legal Action
If a client is officially ignoring your payment requests, you can take legal action. An attorney can send a formal letter on your behalf. If that doesn’t work, you can file a lawsuit. However, this should be seen as a last resort since it will likely damage your relationship with the client (and will likely be expensive).
Join a Trade Association
If you’re struggling with overdue payments, consider joining a trade association. A trade association is an organization that represents the interests of a particular industry or group of businesses. These organizations usually have helpful resources for businesses dealing with issues like late payments.
For example, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is a trade association that represents real estate agents and brokers in the United States. The organization provides its members with resources like education, marketing support, and advocacy.
KEEP READING: What Is a P.O. Number on an Invoice?
Check Into Invoice Factoring Options
If you’re really struggling to make ends meet, you may want to look into invoice factoring. This is when a business sells its invoices to a third party at a discounted rate to get the money immediately.
While this option can be helpful in some situations, it’s important to remember that it comes with some risks. Be sure you understand all the terms and conditions before moving forward.
Navigating Past Due Invoice Emails
No matter what route you decide to take, remember that you have options when it comes to past-due invoices. By following these simple tips and using our past-due invoice email samples as a guide, you can rest assured that you’re doing everything you can to collect payment quickly and efficiently.
For more ways to deal with unpaid invoices, check out our blog with unpaid invoice tips for Freelancers & SMEs.
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