In the past, I booked air tickets through travel agency, and they sent both paper receipts and invoices through mail with no problems.

Recently, I started booking air tickets through specific airlines' official websites because it's more convenient in terms of searching for flights with desirable departure/arrival times and methods of payment.

However, when I called the airlines CS to send me both the receipts and invoices for the booked flights (before I used the ticket), CS said they could send an electronic receipt but could not send an invoice. I asked for the invoices because the finance office in my institute prefers invoice to receipt. This happened with Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Not sure about other airlines.

Have anyone encountered similar situations? Any idea why? Why are travel agencies able to send invoice while (some) airlines are not?

Clarification 1: Judging from the comments and the one answer so far, it seems that "receipts" and "invoices" mean different things in different settings (and possibly in different parts of the world).

Here I elaborate on the practice of the mentioned travel agent. Hope this makes the question more clear. After I paid the travel agent for the air ticket and before the trip, the agent would send me, by local mail, two documents, in ONE envelope. One was titled "receipt", and the other was titled "invoice". On the receipt, a simple sum of money that I paid was shown along with a short description of the itinerary. On the invoice, a detailed breakdown (airfare, tax, fee, etc.) of the sum of money paid was shown, along with the itinerary.

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    What is, for you or your accounting people, the important difference between an "invoice" and a "receipt"? – Henning Makholm Jan 16 '17 at 7:54
  • @HenningMakholm, I don't know. I wish I I know the answer. – wdg Jan 16 '17 at 8:24
  • @HenningMakholm An invoice is a request for payment; a receipt is an acknowledgment that payment has been made. – David Richerby Jan 16 '17 at 8:34
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    I don't see an answerable question here. "Has anyone encountered similar situations?" is just an opinion poll. It's unlikely that anyone would be able to give the actual reason for the airlines' policies. – David Richerby Jan 16 '17 at 8:35
  • @DavidRicherby: I'm asking which difference is important for the OP. If he has already bought the tickets on the airline's website and his payment card has been charged during that transaction, I can't think he really wants to be met by a request for payment of even more money. – Henning Makholm Jan 16 '17 at 8:40

Your question mentions the fact that you are expecting to get an invoice before the flight. There is a very good reason that's not possible in that an invoice is supposed to be issued only for services that have already been rendered. A document issued before that is called a "pro-forma invoice" and typically not enough to claim reimbursement (perhaps this is what you call a "receipt"?)

I am surprised you found a travel agent that would issue a proper invoice before the trip, my experience is that I always get an invoice (by email) from the travel agent after I completed the trip, even though my credit card was charged immediately after I booked. And offering this type of service is exactly why my employer pays a travel agent in the first place.

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