What is e-invoicing in Europe?

24 April 2023

E-invoicing has gained significant traction in Europe due to the European Union's (EU) focus on promoting digitalization and sustainability.

In 2014, the EU established a legal framework for e-invoicing. Since then, several member states have adopted e-invoicing as the preferred method for invoicing.

As a result, businesses of all sizes are transitioning from paper-based invoicing to e-invoicing to streamline their invoicing processes, reduce errors, and save costs.

Governments Initiatives to Promote E-Invoicing in Europe

Governments across Europe have introduced several initiatives to encourage businesses to adopt e-invoicing.

For example, in Italy, the government introduced mandatory e-invoicing for all public sector suppliers in 2019.

In France, the government has set a target to make e-invoicing B2B invoicing mandatory from 2024 in phases to be completed by 2026.

Additionally, the EU has launched several initiatives to promote the adoption of e-invoicing, including the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA) and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program.

Adoption Rate Of E-Invoicing in Europe

According to the European Commission, the adoption of e-invoicing varies widely across Europe, with some countries having high adoption rates while others are still in the early stages of adoption.

The EU average e-invoicing adoption rate is 42%, with Denmark, Sweden, and Finland having the highest adoption rates. In contrast, countries like Greece and Romania have relatively low adoption rates, at 4% and 6%, respectively.

Advantages Of E-Invoicing in Europe

E-invoicing offers several benefits to businesses, including cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved accuracy.

By transitioning from paper-based invoicing to e-invoicing, businesses can reduce administrative costs, eliminate the need for physical storage space, and reduce the risk of errors and fraud.

Additionally, e-invoicing allows faster processing times, resulting in quicker payments and improved cash flow.

How E-Invoicing Works in Europe

E-invoicing in Europe can be initiated in two ways; business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G)

B2B e-invoicing involves businesses sending invoices electronically to their customers. B2G e-invoicing, on the other hand, involves businesses sending invoices electronically to government entities.

You can initiate e-invoicing in Europe through channels like an electronic payment system, EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), or cloud-based e-invoicing software offered by service providers like Unimaze.

E-Invoicing Standards in Europe

E-invoicing in Europe is based on several standards, including the European Standard on Electronic Invoicing (EN 16931) and the Universal Business Language (UBL).

These standards ensure that e-invoices are interoperable, meaning that e-invoices sent from one system can be received and processed by another.

E-Invoice Processing and Payment in Europe

E-invoice processing and payment in Europe are largely automated, reducing the need for manual intervention and paper-based processes.

E-invoices are sent electronically to the recipient, who can process the invoice and make payment through an online payment gateway or traditional payment methods such as bank transfer.

E-invoicing also allows for real-time tracking of invoices, providing businesses with a clear view of their invoicing and payment processes.

E-Invoicing Regulations in Europe

The EU has established a legal framework for e-invoicing, including guidelines for using electronic signatures, data protection, and archiving.

The legal framework ensures that e-invoicing is secure, reliable, and legally binding. However, individual member states may have their own regulations and requirements for e-invoicing, which businesses must comply with.

Legal Framework for E-Invoicing in Europe

The legal framework for e-invoicing in Europe is based on the EU Directive 2014/55/EU, which aims to establish a standard for e-invoicing across the EU.

The directive requires that all invoices sent to public entities be electronic and compliant with the European standard on e-invoicing.

The directive also encourages member states to promote using e-invoicing by businesses.

Tax Implications of E-Invoicing in Europe

E-invoicing has significant tax implications for businesses operating in Europe.

In general, e-invoicing does not affect a transaction's VAT (value-added tax) treatment but the invoicing and record-keeping requirements.

Businesses must ensure that their e-invoices meet legal requirements and are accurately recorded for tax purposes.

Challenges And Opportunities Of E-Invoicing in Europe

Despite the many benefits of e-invoicing, businesses still need help transitioning to e-invoicing.

These challenges include significant changes in business processes, ensuring compliance with legal requirements, and investment in technology.

However, e-invoicing also presents significant business opportunities, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved customer relationships.

Future Outlook Of E-Invoicing in Europe

The future outlook for e-invoicing in Europe is positive, with increasing adoption rates and government initiatives promoting its use.

The EU is also investing in projects to improve the interoperability and standardization of e-invoicing across the region.

As businesses continue to adopt e-invoicing, the benefits are expected to become more widespread, further driving its adoption and growth.

Manage Your e-Invoicing in Europe with Unimaze

If you're looking to manage electronic invoicing projects with multiple partners across different EU countries, Unimaze's e-invoicing platform can help.

Our platform is designed to adapt to legislation in all European countries that have adopted e-invoicing.

In addition, Unimaze’s e-invoicing software accommodates all local requirements, including electronic signature, formatting, storage, and more, making the process smooth and hassle-free.

As an accredited PEPPOL Access Point, Unimaze effortlessly connects to any public service operating on this network, facilitating the exchange of various electronic documents, such as invoices, purchase orders, price catalogs, and more.

Through the PEPPOL network, Unimaze simplifies exchanging electronic documents with public services, helping businesses save time and resources.

And then there’s the Unimaze Digitizer to help you seamlessly convert paper invoices to e-invoices.

Why Unimaze?

… because we stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices, ensuring our platform is always at the forefront of electronic invoicing innovation. By staying informed, we can provide our clients with the most advanced solutions that meet their specific needs and comply with relevant regulations.

Do you want to learn more about e-Invoicing in Europe? One of our international electronic invoicing experts will be in touch within 24 hours to answer any questions you may have about your project.

What is e-Invoicing in Europe - FAQs

How Do I Invoice a European Company?

Invoicing a European company involves following certain procedures to ensure that your invoice meets the legal and regulatory requirements of the company's country.

Here are some steps to consider when invoicing a European company:

  • Determine the Legal Requirements: Each European country has its invoicing regulations, so it's essential to determine the specific requirements for the country you are invoicing.
  • Gather Necessary Information: Collect the recipient's business name, address, and VAT identification number. Also, ensure that your invoice includes your business information, such as your name, address, and VAT identification number.
  • Include the Necessary Details: Ensure that your invoice includes all the necessary details, such as the invoice date, a unique invoice number, a description of the goods or services provided, the quantity and price of each item, and the total amount due.
  • Consider the Currency: If the company you are invoicing uses a different currency than yours, convert the amounts to their currency at the current exchange rate.
  • Use An Accepted Invoicing Format: In Europe, electronic invoicing is becoming increasingly popular. Consider sending an e-invoice in an accepted format, such as PDF or XML, or e-invoice.

What Needs to Be on an EU Invoice?

In the EU, invoicing requirements vary by country, but some basic elements should be included on all invoices to ensure they are legally compliant.

Here are some of the essential elements that should be included on an EU invoice:

  • Invoice date: The date when the invoice was issued.
  • Unique invoice number: An identifying number for the invoice.
  • Your business information: Your name, address, VAT identification number, and other relevant information.
  • Customer information: The recipient's name, address, and VAT identification number.
  • Description of goods or services: A clear description of the goods or services provided, including the quantity and unit price.
  • Total amount due: The sum owed for the goods or services, including applicable taxes.
  • Currency: The currency in which the payment is to be made.
  • Payment terms: The payment terms, including the due date for payment.
  • Payment details: Details of how payment should be made, such as bank transfer information.
  • VAT rate and amount: If applicable, the VAT rate and amount charged for the goods or services provided.

In addition to these basic elements, some EU countries may have additional invoicing requirements, such as mandatory language or specific formatting requirements.

It's essential to check the specific invoicing requirements for the country you are invoicing to ensure that your invoice is legally compliant.

Should I Charge VAT to EU Customers?

Whether or not you should charge VAT (Value Added Tax) to EU customers depends on several factors, such as your business location, the location of your customer, and the type of goods or services you are providing. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Business Location: If your business is based outside the EU, you generally do not need to charge VAT to EU customers.
  • Customer Location: If your customer is a business based in the EU with a valid VAT identification number, you generally do not need to charge VAT. However, you may need to charge VAT if the customer is a non-business individual or business without a valid VAT identification number.
  • Goods or Services: The type of goods or services you provide may affect whether or not you need to charge VAT. For example, some goods and services, such as healthcare and education, may be exempt from VAT.

It's important to note that VAT regulations in the EU are complex and can vary by country.

It's recommended that you consult with a tax advisor or accountant to determine whether or not you need to charge VAT to EU customers.

Additionally, if you are required to charge VAT, you must register for VAT in your customer's country and comply with the relevant VAT reporting and payment requirements.

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