Enterprises procure and pay for goods and services. It makes it inevitable to receive and process invoices. Most invoices are printed and are processed manually.
Each invoice after receipts includes a processing fee of 9 Euro in Germany. Most times, there is a need for personal searching and the typing of data into digital forms to transfer written information into the computer system, like the ERP system, or SAP, which most organizations use.
Germany adopts Electronic Invoicing
Electronic invoicing is gaining faster adoption globally, and several industries are implementing it for different types of transactions. For instance, about 32,000 million electronic invoices exchange hands in Germany every year.
The government already legislated to increase its use because of the benefits they provide for both the state and enterprises. Also, the European Union has mandated them for some transactions, and the private sector is not lagging in utilizing them.
Electronic invoicing has dramatically evolved in Germany. They are considered to have the same legal value, just like the traditional invoices. The invoice types of format in Germany are Xrechnung and ZUGFeRD
It stipulates a digital format for electronic or digital invoicing. The format came into existence via the Directive 2014/55/EU, which later took shape in the German law with the electronic invoice Law of April 4, 2017. Both depicted a unified format for electronic invoicing.
At the EU level, the European Committee for Standardization and the Technical Committee oversees the design, as well as the standardization of the XRechnung format. The Coordinating Center for Information Technology Standards or KoSIT handles the task in Germany.
This version is compatible with the European invoicing format. It incorporates the “Leitweg-ID” field which is crucial for using electronic invoices in public administrations. It is a hybrid of the XML and PDF formats. It was designed to facilitate electronic procedures among businesses.
It includes an XML XRechnung and a PDF A/3. This helps any company regardless of its size, be it multinationals, freelancers or SMEs, to discover what suits it. The choice lies between selecting XML or PDF to process the invoice. The utilization of the ZUGFeRD is being popularized in the B2B area.
The evolution of electronic invoice in Germany
Although most organizations send invoices using an electronic format, it was not until 2011 that the Taxation Simplification Act was implemented. The German government classified electronic invoices with the traditional invoices in terms of value. The regulation determines the legality of an electronic invoice.
As of 2017, the new e-Government Act established electronic invoicing in public administration. This law made it a necessity for public administrators in all Member states to facilitate and collect electronic invoices from their vendors(B2G) to enhance trade throughout Europe, minimize fraud, as well as, streamline payments, coupled with other advantages. Notwithstanding, the implementation only came in November 2018 when the onus was on the public authorities.
The Use Specifications of Electronic Invoicing in Germany
Some common regulations exist that oversees the utilization of electronic invoices throughout the European Union, it is not a gainsaying that different regulations exist in each country, so we consider the German regulation. For example, German regulations demand enterprises or entities to hold e-invoices for ten years.
This period varies in different EU Member states. Germany has an e-invoicing platform called ZRE or Zentrale Rechnungseingangsplattform des Bundes). A significant responsibility for this platform is to function as an intermediary between public organizations and management providers. This creates a platform to guarantee the uniqueness and centralization of submissions for enhanced safety.
Electronic invoices will continue to be implemented for various transactions and those which include European companies and administrations. The Electronic Invoice Association forecasts that 70% of aggregate invoices in the country will be processed electronically.