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Invoicing in electronic format in 2013 and looking forwards

In the heritage of European Union, 2013 will go down as the year through which the barriers of electronic invoicing were taken off. Modern European Directives are going to utilise technology to strengthen business tasks, with the objective of reducing expenses and increasing business performance. As such, the European Commission desires to promote electronic invoicing and ensure widespread utilization of electronic invoices through the year 2020.

A Journey Through Electronic Invoicing Legislation in the European Community

Since 2001, the European Union regulates electronic invoicing thru Directive 2001/115/EC. Twelve years later, Directive 2010/45/EU - which in most member nations was executed prior to January 1st, 2013 - revised the pre-existing regulating platform for electronic invoicing.

Council Directive 2001/115/CE was made as a response towards requirement to legislatively establish how papers and electronic invoices must co-exist. Additionally to ordinary needs, the Directive also implemented that Member States must accept invoices posted by e-mail if their reliability of origin and integrity of content was warranted through one of the listed below methods:

- An Advanced electronic signature.

- An established mechanism of automatic data transaction, generally known as EDI, for acronym in French (change de Donnes Informatis).

Irrespective of the preliminary goal of the European Commission to standardize laws on electronic invoicing, in practice, the Directive was unclear and triggered several complications in intra-EU transactions. A few of the contrary statements described in the Directive are the subsequent:

- Member States who desired to strengthen the requirements for appropriate electronic invoicing thru advanced electronic signatures and qualified electronic certificates were permitted to do it.

- Member States couldn't apply any kind of obligations related to the application of electronic invoices.

- Member States were allowed to embrace and endorse internal regulations to determine the validity of the electronic invoice, without the need for employing any of the two accepted tactics (advanced electronic signature and EDI systems).

Among other effects, this resulted-in that it was tricky for organizations from versatile States to communicate with organizations from more severe states. In the end, the first had to satisfy the rules of the country of place; to fulfill the necessities of the State of the latter. Even among Member States that demanded the innovative electronic invoice there were clearly troubles, as they were managing diverse security levels (thru an innovative electronic signature or possibly a registered electronic signature).

Fortunately, Directive 2010/45/EU - started throughout the year 2013 - partially treats this condition of uncertainty about electronic invoicing. The prominent disparities amongst the two directives are underneath:

- Paper and electronic invoices are similar on a legal and economical level.

- The genuineness of origin and integrity of content are even now required in both formats, but members will not be obligated to use any electronic signature or EDI exchange system. With latest Directive, alternative systems centered on internal corporate controls will also be permitted.

- The invoice recipient must acknowledge receiving invoices in electronic format, while it is still not obligatory concerning conventional paper invoices.

A Critical Viewpoint

With Directive 2010/45/EU, the supplying organization and the customer are free to pick out the desired methods to ensure the legitimacy of integrity and origin of electronic invoice. Finally, since 2013, the new and 3 rd choice for control has developed importance, despite the electronic signature and EDI data exchange. This 3rd concept facilitates organizations to utilise other processes dependent on internal regulations.

However, this latest option -internal business control- is a wide and uncertain idea, because over one type of approach is allowed, such as contrasting the invoice with the related bank payments. A consolidated business modus operandi will exclusively practical after a time period of day-to-day implementation.

On the contrary, the actuality that need of acceptance by the recipient solely corresponds to electronic invoicing but not to paper's format; this reveals that EU is offering time to businesses and consumers to become accustomed to the modern digital scenario.

There isn't any uncertainty that the inclusion of those latest invoicing process means will tremendously streamline invoice generation, delivery and reception; which in fact, will contribute to cost savings. On the other hand, the difficulties connected with safekeeping and custody because of the electronic signature will disappear.
About Author Andre Klein :

André Klein
Freelance Consultant for DocPath
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Article Added on Thursday, May 8, 2014
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