Recurring invoices and recurring payments

This article is for Administrators and some Managers. Learn more about permissions. If you’re a Member, check out our Member resources.

Recurring invoices can automatically send from your Harvest account or save as drafts for review before they’re sent.

If a recurring invoice is sent automatically and you have our Stripe integration enabled, your clients can choose to set up automatic recurring payments, as well, so they don’t have to remember to enter their payment information every time.

Create a recurring invoice

  1. Go to Invoices > Recurring and click New recurring invoice.
  2. Choose your client and click Next step.
  3. Choose the start date, frequency, and duration of the invoice, and whether you would like it to automatically send from your account or save as a draft in your invoice overview.
    • Note that only Administrators can set a recurring invoice to send automatically. 
  4. Fill out the invoice, and Save.

Recurring invoices cannot pull in information from your timesheets. They’ll have the same information every time they’re generated.

This process creates a recurring invoice template, which will automatically generate a client invoice according to your set schedule. These templates appear under Invoices > Recurring.

The invoices that are generated from these templates will appear under Invoices > Overview. They can be managed exactly like non-recurring invoices.

A couple of notes regarding duration and frequency:

  • If no duration is selected, recurring invoices will be generated until you manually delete the recurring invoice template.
  • For invoices that recur on a monthly frequency, if you set the First issue date to the 31st of the month, Harvest will auto-adjust in months with fewer days and generate the invoice on the last day of those months.

Recurring invoice generation time

Recurring invoices are generated one by one, starting around midnight in your account’s timezone on the day the invoice is set to be created. If your recurring invoice is set to send automatically, it’ll send around that same time as well.

Variables in recurring invoices and messages

The following variables are available to use in either the invoice subject or in line item descriptions to display the year or month the invoice was generated, right on the invoice itself:

  • %invoice_issue_month%
  • %invoice_issue_month_name%
  • %invoice_issue_year%

If your recurring invoice is emailed automatically, you’ll also have the option to include a message in that email. In this message, you can use the same variables as regular invoices. You can view all available variables at Invoices > Configure > Messages.

Edit a recurring invoice

  1. Go to Invoices > Recurring and select the template for the recurring invoice you’d like to edit.
  2. From the template, make your changes.
  3. Click Update invoice to save.

Changes to the template for a recurring invoice will only apply to future invoices. If you’re looking to edit an existing invoice, head to our page on editing invoices.

Note that if a client has enabled recurring payments for invoices generated from a particular template, the template won’t be editable, with the exception of invoice recipients and messages. If you need to change the details of a recurring invoice template with this option enabled, you can either delete the recurring invoice template and create a new one, or you can ask your client to temporarily stop recurring payments on that invoice so the template can be edited.

Cancel a recurring invoice

  1. Go to Invoices > Recurring and select the template for the recurring invoice you’d like to cancel.
  2. From the template, click Delete invoice (bottom right).
  3. Click Delete recurring invoice to confirm.

Deleting is permanent and there’s no undo. While deleting the template for a recurring invoice will prevent invoices from being generated in the future, this won’t impact existing invoices.

Recurring payments

If an invoice is sent automatically and your client pays for it through Stripe, we’ll ask them if they’d like to enable recurring payments.

Screenshot of form asking client whether they'd like to automatically pay a recurring invoice

Once a client chooses to activate recurring payments, they’ll be asked to add a form of payment. Going forward, your client will be automatically billed according to the terms of the recurring invoice.

Your client can manage their recurring payments from their Client Dashboard. If you don’t have the module enabled in your account, they’ll still be able to access the parts of it related to recurring payments from invoice emails and web invoices, but they won’t see information about all of the open and recently paid invoices they have with you.

If a recurring payment fails, we’ll send an automatic email to inform your client. The email will include a link to their Client Dashboard, and we’ll let them know that we’ll retry the payment in 48 hours.

If payment fails after the second attempt, no further attempts will be made. We’ll send the client another email letting them know that the payment has failed and that they have to manually pay the invoice. Even if that happens with one invoice, the following invoice in the recurring series will try to collect the recurring payment as usual.

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