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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs on Guided Buying

This section details information on the types of invoice that may be received and how the College pays them

Accordion drop down boxes to advise on Invoice payments

No PO, No Pay

The College operates a “No PO, No Pay” policy. It is important that a company is not requested to provide goods or services without a purchase order first being raised and issued to the company to quote on their invoice. 

Invoices received which do not have a purchase order stated on them risk being rejected and returned to the company, resulting in a delay in payment and possible damage to our supplier relationship.

Invoice receipt

Typically, Imperial College will receive approximately 220,000 supplier invoices each calendar year.

Imperial College receives invoices in several ways: electronically, as data files, via a service provider called Tungsten (the principle and preferred method of receipt), via the post, and as emailed pdf documents sent to the AP invoices mailbox.

It is important that the supplier submits the invoice directly to either Accounts Payable or the electronic service provider, and not to the department. This allows for the invoice to be registered on the system so that we can keep track of it.


Where the supplier is registered to submit invoices electronically, the supplier submits their invoice as a data file to our third party provider where the system  automatically processes the invoice by directly matching the invoice into the AP module of ICIS. Where the data file received does not meet the PO matching criteria, these invoices are dealt with via the AP invoice querying process. This keeps manual data entry effort to a minimum.

Pdf and paper invoices

These supplier invoices (paper copies and pdf) are processed by manually matching to the purchase orders available in the AP module. Invoices that cannot be matched due to issues with purchase orders are referred back the person who raised the original purchase order to assist. Possible issues which may occur include the PO being accidentally closed early, an incorrect VAT status, the invoice being issued in a different currency from the purchase order, or there being insufficient value outstanding on the purchase order. 

Viewing invoices

Once invoices are validated by the system and become available for payment, an email alert will be automatically sent to the requester, informing them of the details of the invoice matching as well as providing the link and login details to the on-line archive for viewing invoices on-line. If there are any issues with the processed invoices, usually the end users will have around 20 days to get back to Accounts Payable with specific instructions.

Electronic invoices are available immediately for viewing in the on-line archive while the paper invoices will be available within 3 to 4 working days

Foreign Currencies

Although the majority of supplier invoices received require payment in GBP, it is possible to make payment in any other currency unless there are international restrictions on using that currency.

In order to make payment in a currency other than GBP, it is essential that the PO is raised with the correct currency selected. In order to do this, it may require the supplier’s details to be amended on ICIS to allow for the alternative currency. The P2P Helpdesk will be able to assist with this amendment.

Payment methods

Where a purchase order has been raised and an invoice received, the preferred payment method for UK supplier invoices is by automated bank transfer (BACS). The payment by BACS normally clears in 2 working days when it credits the beneficiary’s bank account.

Foreign currency invoices are paid via a similar automated process using a Royal Bank of Scotland payment platform called Bankline. These usually clear between 3 working days to approx. 10 working days, depending on which geographical locations the payment is sent to.

Payment by cheque in either £GBP or $USD are also possible.

Payments in advance

College Procurement Regulation PR25 sets out our policy regarding advance payments.

No advance payment over £20,000 plus VAT will be made unless the supplier is able to provide a Banker’s Guarantee to cover the advance sum. This fully protects the College’s payment in the event of default or the company going into financial difficulties before the goods or services can be delivered.

If a company requests an advance payment below £20,000 plus VAT, in authorising the payment, the Department is accepting all risk in the event of the company defaulting on the order, or going into financial difficulties before the order can be fulfilled.

If a company is not prepared to provider a suitable guarantee, an alternative payment schedule may be negotiated based on agreed deliverable milestones.

Payment terms

The College’s payment terms are 30 days from the date of invoice, and all College suppliers are expected to agree to these terms.

Staff are not authorised to offer advance payment or shorter than 30 days payment terms to suppliers as part of price negotiations without the prior agreement of Procurement

Any enquires regarding advance payments and payment terms please contact the Head of Procurement

Pro Forma Invoices (advance payment)

Pro forma invoices, which require an advance payment in order to confirm our order, can be issued by companies in certain circumstances. These should only be paid in exceptional circumstances, as having already agreed to our terms of business, companies have accepted invoicing on delivery and payment in 30 days of the date of invoice.

Circumstances where a pro forma would be acceptable would be services where our order or booking will not be confirmed until an initial deposit payment is made, such as the hire of a venue for a conference or seminar. 

Under no circumstances should a pro forma invoice be requested from a company in order facilitate early payment so that payment falls within a specific accounting period.

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