Enterprises must begin printing their own value-added tax (VAT) invoices effective on Jan 1, instead of buying invoices from tax offices as previously.

Most companies have made orders to have their own invoices printed, but many smaller firms are still unsure about how to use them lawfully.

Lawyer Tran Xoa, director of the Minh Dang Quang Law Firm, said many small businesses lack experiences using the invoices and need more instruction from tax officials to comply with the new regulations.

Meanwhile, companies are being forced to check with authorities regarding the validity of their invoices, he said. When their new invoices have been printed, they have been required to send notices to the tax authorities in a bid to get official recognition of the new forms.

Without this approval, many tax offices are regarding the invoices as non-compliant, Xoa said.

Other companies have delayed printing invoices due to planned changes in office locations.

"Our lease will expire early in 2012, and we plan to move but have not yet selected a new place, so we have delayed printing invoices," said Nguyen Van Quoc, director of the La Quoc Co Ltd in HCM City’s District 4.

TQN Accounting Consult Co director Tran Quoc Nam said early 2011, many businesses did not know the regulations on self-printing invoices or they knew but intentionally hesitated to act until faced with the deadline. As a result, the limited number of printing houses have been overloaded with orders and tax offices are still providing invoices to businesses.

Taxation authorities have urged businesses to print invoices early and have even asked companies to report their oders with printing houses or sign commitments upon receiving tax agency guides on using self-printed invoices.

Nam said that the greatest difficulty presented by self-printing of invoices is the additional expense. Although the number of printing houses has risen, and printing prices have fallen somewhat since 2011, the cost of each invoice book is now about 80,000 VND. Invoices bought from tax agencies, meanwhile, only cost about 16,000 VND./.