e-Invoicing in the European Union

All European Union member countries must transpose their legislative frameworks to Directive 2014/55 /EU and subsequent rulings on e-invoicing in order to harmonize the procedures for issuance and control of this type of document within the EU. The common legal framework for member states highlights the need to guarantee the origin and authenticity of electronic invoicing.

Directive 2014/55/UE is a standard that aims to facilitate cross-border commercial relations with the creation of a common standard that is interoperable.

Many of the member states of the European Union have already implemented electronic invoicing on a mandatory basis between the Public Sector and its suppliers with the aim of simplifying tax compliance and reducing economic costs. With the new European Union standard for electronic invoicing, the EU wants to facilitate public procurement and electronic commerce at the cross-border level.

Mandatory status

The deadline for contracting authorities and entities to comply with Directive 2014/55/EU and to receive and process electronic invoices according to the EN is 18 April 2019.

This deadline can be extended for sub-central contracting authorities and entities until 18 April 2020.

Administrative transactions required

For digitally signed invoices, it is necessary to have an e-certificate issued by a European CA.

e-Signature

The European directive specifically cites signature as one of the mechanisms that may be used to ensure integrity and authenticity of origin. In some countries such as Spain it is widely used, while in others such as France it is increasingly being encouraged, although its use is not compulsory.

Format

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) was asked to develop this e-Invoicing standard and to carry out the corresponding tests. The two approved syntaxes are:

  • UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice XML message as specified in XML Schemas 16B (SCRDM — CII).
  • UBL invoice and credit note messages as defined in ISO/IEC 19845:2015.

Storage

Archiving times may vary from one state to another, although the periods are usually around 5 years and mandatory for the recipient. In some particular cases such as Italy, additional requirements are stipulated for signature and proof checking to ensure the safekeeping of the document in electronic format through time as a valid proof.

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