NetSuite provides ways for users to bill costs to customers on invoices. But what does that process look like? And what are the steps that users would need to take to ensure that billable costs, which include expenses, items, and time, are flowing to invoices?


The first order of business is to ensure that your NetSuite instance is set up to bill expenses, items, and time to customers. Not all companies will need this feature, and it may not yet be enabled in your instance. To turn on this feature, navigate to Enable Features and select the Transactions subtab. Under the Billing section, ensure that Bill Costs to Customers is turned on. Then, once you save the page, you will be prepared to bill expenses, items, and time to customers on invoices.

Billable Expenses and Items

First, let’s look at billable expenses and items. These two are similar, so we’ll cover them together.


When would you need expenses or items to be billable? Suppose you used a subcontractor to complete a job for one of your customers. You could pass on the cost of that subcontractor directly to your customer by billing your customer for that expense. Or, suppose you purchased a specific item in order to complete a job for your customer. As with billable expenses, you could make that item billable in order to pass along the cost of the item to your customer.


You can use purchase orders, checks, or credit card transactions to create billable expenses or billable items. For any of these options, you would simply need to create the specific transaction, identify the expense or item on the transaction, identify the customer, and select the Billable checkbox.

Billable expenses and items can then be selected on invoices. After you create the invoice and select the customer this invoice applies to, any expenses or items that are connected with that customer will appear under the Billable Expenses and Billable Items subtabs. For each of these categories, you can select the Mark All button in order to apply all the billable expenses and items for this customer to this particular invoice. Or, if you need to create multiple invoices for this customer and separate out certain expenses and items, then on each invoice you would select the specific costs you need to bill for that invoice.

Set the Default

If you want all your expenses and items to be billable automatically, then you can enable the features Expenses Billable by Default and Items Billable by Default, both of which are located under the Time & Expenses subtab of Accounting Preferences. In order to turn these features on, you would first need to have turned on the Bill Costs to Customers feature.

Billable Time

Billable time, though it shares some similarities with billable expenses and items, has several unique qualities.


Your company should track billable time if you need to charge your customers for the time your employees spend providing a service for them. For example, if your company provides consulting services, then employees would need to keep track of the time they spend working with different customers so that you can bill each customer for the specific amount of time they received from your employees.

Billable time can also apply to the time your employees spend working on a specific project. The nature of your business would determine whether you should charge customers for the time of individual employees, the time any employees spend on a project, or both.


In order to use billable time in NetSuite, you need to set up time tracking. First, you would need to enable the Time Tracking feature, which is located under the Time & Expenses section of the Employees tab in Enable Features. Once this feature is turned on, you also need to specify your company’s time tracking preferences under the Time & Expenses tab of the Accounting Preferences. While many of these preferences are specific to tracking time (such as determining the maximum number of hours that an employee can enter for a day or a week), other preferences deal directly with billable time.

One of these billable time preferences is the option to Override Rates on Time Records. This preference allows users to adjust the default rate on a time record, allowing them to charge different rates for different customers and different projects, depending on the situation. The preference Require Approvals on Time Records ensures that users don’t bill customers without the approval of a supervisor. The preference Time Billable by Default will automatically check the Billable box on time records, while the preference Copy Time Memos to Invoices ensures that the memos employees include on their time records will also appear on related invoices.


When employees need to track billable time, they would create a new time tracking transaction record by navigating to Transactions > Employees > Track Time. On this page, they would identify the customer or project this time applies to, identify the specific service that was done, and select the Billable checkbox.

Now, when an invoice is created for this customer, any billable time previously entered for the customer will appear under the invoice’s Billable Time subtab. Users can either select all the times on this invoice using the Mark All button, or they can manually select specific times.

If you need to, you can charge different rates for the time of different employees. For example, in a consulting firm the time of a senior consultant may have a higher rate than the time of a junior consultant. To charge separate rates for certain employees, you would need to create a billing class for each employee rate.


The ability to bill costs to customers in NetSuite ensures that your company is accurately managing the costs of your expenses, items, and time. If this post helped you understand NetSuite better, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list below to receive future posts directly in your inbox once a week!