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This has puzzled me for some time. I am wondering what is the german word used for "receipt" when used in a transaction for instance, when paying for a drink in a german pub, which word is written on top of the receipt? Searching in the online pons dictionary I found both the words Quittung and Beleg with no striking difference, so, do they mean the same in this context?

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    You usually ask for the Rechnung in a restaurant or pub: "Wir hätten gerne die Rechnung, bitte." – infinitezero Jan 6 '19 at 20:44
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    In der Kneipe ist die Frage nach einem Beleg für einen Drink eher ungewöhnlich. Ansonsten erhält man von Kassensystemen i.d.R. nur einen Bon, eine kurzen Beleg ohne Angabe des Kundennamens. – user unknown Jan 7 '19 at 3:20
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Beleg has a broader meaning than Quittung.

A Quittung is a written confirmation that a payment or some other benefit has been received. There is also a verb quittieren, which stands for writing a Quittung.

Beleg comes from belegen (to prove). A Beleg is a document that proves something. A Quittung is a Beleg, but a Beleg doesn't have to be a Quittung. For example, an invoice can serve as a Beleg (that some goods have been delivered or some service has been provided) but it's not a Quittung because it's written by the provider and not by the recipient.

  • There are further forms to specify the Beleg: Zahlungsbeleg or Rechnungsbeleg. – infinitezero Jan 6 '19 at 20:43
  • As you mention "quittieren", it should also be noted that "quittieren" can be used in quite a wider sense than "writing a Quitting". I'd consider "quittieren" roughly synonymous with "zur Kenntnis nehmen" ("to acknowledge"). "Quitting" can also be used in a figurative sense (not referring to a piece of writing), but that figurative usage stays much closer to the general concept of a "Quitting" IMHO than the verb "quittieren". – O. R. Mapper Jan 6 '19 at 22:09
  • In "den Dienst quittieren" steht es aber nicht für "zur Kenntnis nehmen", sondern für abschließen. – user unknown Jan 7 '19 at 3:15
  • @userunknown: Stimmt, die Bedeutung gibt es auch noch. – O. R. Mapper Jan 7 '19 at 14:31
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As mentioned in the comment by "infinitezero", you will ask for the "Rechnung" in a restaurant or pub. You will also get a "Rechnung" in case of buying more expensive items in a shop.

The term "Rechnung" has different meanings depending on the law in which context it is used. In general, most trades require that a "Rechnung" is printed and handed over to the customer. In this terminology, each "Quittung" or "Kassabeleg" must have a unique fiscal identifier in austria (a QR code). Then it can be seen as "Rechnung". In addition, Austrian law and I assume it's very similar in Germany, the clerks define minimum requirements for a "Rechnung" in terms of V.A.T. laws, (e.g. a unique number, address and name of both seller and buyer). This case of "Rechnung" I would translate to "invoice". If you pay cash, then the "Rechnung" is standalone with text remark "paid with cash". If you pay with credit/debit card, the "Quittung" (voucher / receipt for payment) is separately printed and in many cases stapled with the invoice.

But for smaller things you will just get a "Quittung", "Beleg" or "Kassenbeleg" (receipt) which is printed directly from the casher's desk often w/o having payment or buyer information. In some situations this receipt contains all the formal requirements of an invoice, and then the "Beleg" is a "Rechnung".

  • But especially in a restaurant or pub, asking for the "Rechnung" will, at first, often just get you a sheet of paper with a hand-written addition of the individual items and the sum you have to pay. Presumably, it's only after that that you get something printed (and I'd probably ask for a "Beleg" then), for instance, if you expect to get reimbursed by someone else for the expenses and need some proof. – O. R. Mapper Jan 6 '19 at 22:14

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