A Potted History of German Voluntary E-Invoicing
Since EU Directive 2014/55/EU in 2014, public authorities in Europe have been obliged to be able to receive and process electronic invoices. As part of this, the standard (EN 16931) has been developed to specify which elements an e-invoice must always contain and has been adopted by both the German government and suppliers to German Government.
For a long time, ZUGFeRD was traded as a possible standard for the exchange of invoices with the German public administration, but in June 2017, the XRechnung format was published by the IT planning council, making it a national standard.
Fast forward to 2020 and the German Government is making e-invoicing mandatory to public entities from Nov 27th
What is the XRechnung Standard?
The X-Rechnung is an application specification of the CEN data model and thus the national standard of public administration in Germany. The XRechnung is technology-neutral and is an XML file that fully complies with the XML schema specifications of the European standard EN 16931 and must therefore be used – this standard will be mandated in Germany from November 27th.
The intended XML schemas to be used are UBL and CII, or Universal Business Language and UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice. Only these two syntaxes are permitted. The Xinvoice will only be accepted if transmitted in one of these two syntaxes.
The XInvoice created is then sent as an e-mail or De-Mail with XML attachment, EGVP/VPS (Electronic Court and Administrative Mailbox/Virtual Post Office of the Federal Government), or results from a completed online form.
The great advantage of the XRechnung is the clear governance. It is determined who maintains the data format, how new versions are published, and more. The XRechnung is therefore future-proof.
Whilst the XRechnung is the standard, it is also possible to use the newly published (as of March 11, 2019) ZUGFeRD 2.0 standard which overcomes the issues of the original ZUGFeRD standard in 2014 which wasn’t compliant under the CIUS and CEN models for Germany when the XRechnung was adopted.
What is the ZUGFeRD 2.0 Standard?
Just like the first version, ZUGFeRD 2.0 is also available in different profiles. Three of the five profiles are recognized in Germany as full tax invoices:
- BASIC provides the basic information of an invoice.
- COMPORT is the profile of EN 16931 considered in the EU Directive as “fully compliant”.
- The EXTENDED profile allows the integration of specific additional information.
The Profiles Minimum and Basic WL cannot be used as full invoices in Germany.
ZUGFeRD 2.0 is regarded as a ‘hybrid’ invoice data format, as it integrates an XML invoice data file in a PDF (more precisely PDF/A-3). This means that the data (such as amount, invoice number) can be read out without any problems. In addition, you can select whether a PDF file or an XML data record is to be used for further processing.
Although the data structure of ZUGFeRD 2.0 is also based on the EN 16931 standard, XRechnung is still recognised as the central standard for public administration in Germany.
What This Means for you and How Tungsten Network can Support you!
Tungsten is ready to support both the XRechnung and the ZUGFeRD format and handle delivery of invoices for new or existing Webform or Integrated customers. Whether you need to onboard or upgrade, we can assist with everything you need to be ready for November 27th.
It is likely that some German public entities will not be ready to accept XML formats (XRechnung) delivered via ZRE (Peppol Access point), so it may be likely that you’ll need to adopt both the XRechnung and ZUGFeRD formats, we can advise based on which public entity you need to invoice.
Choosing Tungsten means we can deliver in both formats under the same solution, meaning you won’t have to bear the cost of connecting with multiple entities for multiple sending formats. Let us future proof your delivery.
Get in touch today to discuss how we can onboard or upgrade you to our Integrated Solution Service for German e-invoicing or discuss our Total AR solution for blanket invoice delivery to 100% of your customer base including certain governments globally.
Click to read more about Tungsten’s delivery for you in Germany
Something to remember:
It is widely thought that the B2G mandate will also be the trigger which leads to the blanket distribution of electronic invoicing in the B2B field. Integrate now and scale with us when the B2B mandate hits. A headache today doesn’t have to last tomorrow.