4 Ways to Politely Remind a Client to Pay an Invoice

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 20/09/2022
invoice reminder tip

This article is for small business owners and project managers. It explores your options in a scenario of invoice payment delays, and how to ensure it's cleared without damaging the relationship with a client. To preface it, we would like to assure you it’s acceptable and encouraged to request the money you are owned. 




Whether you’re a small business or a company with hundreds of clients, you depend on the revenue generated through receiving payments for your services. And there is nothing worse than having them delayed, especially when you were timely in sending the invoice. We are certain you’ve run into this issue more than once and we sympathise with both annoyance, anxiety and frustration it must have caused.

Late invoice payments can get especially problematic when your ability to compensate the workers depends on the cash flow generated through the project. There are other big issues that can jeopardise the overall success of your company that are caused by delays on the client side. We have previously discussed what steps are to be taken in advance to ensure your invoices are cleared on time. Due to popular demand, we are now sharing tips on what to do when the payment is already late. 

When to Start Chasing Client for a Payment?

It can be a slippery slope when determining the best time to nudge your client for the payment. Starting to fret too early will show your lack of trust, whereas asking too late may have negative impacts on your business. The first step in determining the right time would be checking the payment terms outlined in the contract: it should clearly state the date of invoice creation and its due date. 

While in the ideal world invoices would get cleared upon being received, most companies normally offer a grace period of either 15 or 30 days. Depending on which one is applicable to you (if applicable), the best time to chase up an invoice is upon the expiration of the grace period.

  1. Send a Reminder Email

A reminder email is the first measure to take when your client is falling behind with the payment. Although some people feel awkward about having to chase the other party for money, it may easily resolve the situation. Simply put, your clients are human and can occasionally either forget things or lose track of time. If that’s the case, not only is a reminder email nothing to be ashamed of but also, if worded correctly, a sign you’re not holding it against them. 

If it still doesn’t sit well with you, you can always automate the reminder emails to do the dirty work for you. While they won’t be as personalised, they will bring the point across. You can yourself set the timing of them being sent - upon expiration of the grace period, right after the delivery deadline, etc. As a preventative measure, we also recommend sending an automated email reminder a week before the deadline. 

  1. Invoice Efficiently 

To ensure timely payments, you must also provide timely invoices; which can get a little tricky at crunch times. Additionally, similarly to how clients sometimes forget to pay, companies are also guilty of forgetting to send invoices in the first place. To address all these issues, we highly recommend using invoice automation tools. Not only will they generate accurate invoices within seconds, but also distribute them to the involved parties and even allow automated reminders as the due date closes in. 

 It’s also worth noting that the very appearance of an invoice can influence how high on the priority list it will be for the client. If you keep it detailed and consistent with your overall branding, it speaks of professionalism. Believe it or not, professional-looking invoices have a much higher probability of being cleared first!

  1. Attach a Copy of an Invoice

It may sound strange that you’d want to re-send the invoice as part of your payment-chase email, but hear us out. If we refer back to the scenario in which the invoice isn’t cleared due to forgetfulness, the client might need to also be reminded how much they owe. Additionally, if they are dealing with other outsourced workforce, chances are it will take some time to figure out which invoice was yours. Sending a copy with the email will save them the hassle. 

However, remember that the invoice isn’t a legally binding document, unlike the contract. Without a signed legal agreement in which you outline the due date and grace period for the invoice to be cleared, it doesn’t hold much power. 

  1. Consider Auto-Debit or Upfront Payments Moving Forward

Finally, if this is not the first time the client is late with payments, open a dialogue with them about the precautions you will be taking moving forward. Keep it polite and non-accusatory, stating you understand mistakes happen. Then suggest the client might want to consider paying ahead if they find it difficult to pay on time. In other words, try and introduce auto-debit or upfront payments as a means of convenience to them rather than yourself.

If you’re dealing with a client’s honest forgetfulness, this solution will be beneficial for both parties. However, don’t rush offering it over 1-2 late invoices; it should be something to consider when there’s a clear pattern. Also, keep in mind whether this suggestion is accepted or not will highly depend on the trust your client has in you and your deliverables. It is therefore best you offer this approach to people you have worked with for a while.


Some argue that there isn’t much to do once the client is late on paying for your services: it’s either waiting patiently or going down the legal route. Therefore most of the advice on the topic is focused on how to prevent the situation from happening in the first place. Although we agree it’s best to cover your basis by ensuring timely compensation, we also insist there are multiple things you can do to nudge a client to clear the invoices on time without damaging your relationship with them.

Late invoices can and will happen even if you put all the preventative measures in place. And therefore it’s best to have a plan of action for when that happens: from automated remainders to late fees once the client is past the grace period. The key is to remain professional and respectful as opposed to letting the emotions take over, even if the late payments are causing you trouble. Lastly, it’s crucial to remember there is no shame in chasing your client up for the money: you and your team have earned it!

What do you do when your invoices are not cleared on time? Let us know if you’d like some guidance.  

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