What Is an Electronic Receipt?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2019
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An electronic receipt is a proof of purchase or delivery that is sent electronically. The recipient can use this document like a paper receipt in exchanges, returns, or disputes with the sender. Electronic receipts are also usable for activities like claiming deductions on taxes. It is usually possible to print them if a hard copy is needed.

The electronic receipt includes a unique identifying code to reference the order, along with a detailed description. It will note the sender and recipient's contact information, method of payment, and any other relevant details. This document can also carry an electronic signature and may include information on how to conduct returns and exchanges.

Many electronic receipts are sent via e-mail, but they can also be sent to a mobile phone through a text messaging system. It may also be possible to download copies if a receipt is lost or never arrives. The recipient can log on to the merchant's site and check the records on her transactions to find the electronic receipt she needs. For some transactions on the web, the receipt may load in the browser when the transaction is complete, and the user will need to print it or note the confirmation code for future reference.


Some accounting software will interface with electronic receipts and integrate receipt data into the customer's accounting records. The software can enter the information in the user's ledger, classify the type of purchase, and adjust the new running balance automatically. Purchasers can also correct the information if it is wrong; the software might classify a purchase incorrectly, for example, or download an electronic receipt that is later amended and record an incorrect amount.

Online receipts can document purchases and provide information about how and when a purchase was made. They also confirm the order and can provide a mechanism for correcting it if it is wrong, although usually this must take place within a very narrow window. Receipts may also automatically generate at the time of a delivery. Shippers can send emails to senders and recipients so they know when a package arrives, and the electronic receipt may be needed in a dispute over the delivery.

Using electronic receipts can be more environmentally friendly, and may also make accounting easier. The user can keep copies in an accounting program, link journal entries to specific receipts, and provide receipts upon request in a convenient electronic format. If receipts document purchases a consumer plans to declare on taxes, it is important to make sure they will be accessible in the future, and it can be a good idea to save copies to a folder on a hard drive.


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