How to create sales invoice without items

We are evaluating ERPNext for our worker-owned cooperative, and so I’m going through some of our workflows to see how we’ll need to adjust, but I’m confused about creating a Sales Invoice that represents labor hours only.

As I understand it, we track labor hours by creating one or more Timesheets associated with a Task on a Project. However, when I try to create a Sales Invoice with the appropriate timesheets selected, I am unable to submit the invoice because it requires an item:


I found a similar question here, but it is 5 years old and the steps described there are (A) awkward, and (B) do not seem to actually work in recent versions of ERPNext. Adding an Item with only a name and description results in the same error as above when saving the invoice.

We are a 90% service based cooperative, and very rarely do we have items to bill against. The vast majority of what we’ll bill would be Timesheets only. Is there a way to create a Sales Invoice without adding an Item to it?


Is this of any help?

Hey, thanks… I don’t think that’s helpful though, because it still requires an item. You can see the video on that page showing the item being selected just after the “Create Sales Invoice” button is clicked.

How about creating a service item (just leave Maintain Stock unchecked) called Time or Timesheets or something. The UOM could be hours and you should be all set.

If you absolutely insist that you don’t want to use an item at all, the only way out is to use the Journal Entry document.

Hope this helps.



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Just out of curiosity, why would you want to have such a document?
In reality, the item(s) is a mandatory attribute for such financial document and should not be accepted by any TAX agency world wide.


We had similar requirement for one of our client to add purchase invoice without creating item on item list. we did a customization on purchase invoice item child table.

please check below post to know the details

This is probably the approach we’ll end up taking, thank you. It’s not exactly how we’ve operated in the past, but it seems like the way ERPNext expects things to work, so we’ll just have to do it. :sweat_smile:

There is also a disconnect in the functionality expected between how a cooperative functions, and how (I assume) most businesses who use ERPNext work. As a cooperative, we always bill our clients at the same rate that we pay ourselves. There is no profit markup necessary since there is no distinction between shareholders and the people actually doing the work. Once we remembered that ERPNext is likely built with the idea of profit markups above labor cost, it made more sense that of course the invoices would require items with prices that are not directly linked to the timesheets.

We will just have to be careful when creating invoices to add items in the correct quantities to match the hourly billing rates of the associated timesheets (rates which might vary depending on the activity type), although this does introduce a potential point of errors.

Now, my main confusion is around how to get timesheet descriptions to show up on the invoice, as we prefer to have those details visible to clients. That’s a different problem though, so thank you everyone for the assistance here!

Hi Luke,

If you use the Make Sales Invoice Tab/Button from the Time Sheet, the reference to the Time Sheet is linked in the Sales Invoice, so with a bit of coding, it’s possible for you to generate a HTML/CSS print format that picks up and displays the details in the Time Sheet.

So, while the Item in the Sales Invoice may be Billable Hours or whatever, you don’t necessarily have to show it to your customer. The Print Format can show the Time Sheet details formatted appropriately to look like an invoice.

Hope this helps.



Hi Luke, every Sales Invoice needs to have at least one “Item” line entry to be able to process - that is without going into customising the docType etc

This does not mean however that you have to create an Item itself, as you can simply type into the “Item Name” field the name of the item/service you are billing (no need to choose an Item from the Item box). You will need to enter data into the mandatory files like Description, Unit and price etc.

Using pre-created Items allows you to more easily add line items to your invoice without having to manually enter every time