e-Invoicing Formats in Germany
The eInvoice Act (eRechnungsgesetz) and the eInvoice Regulation (eRechnungs-Verordnung), which came into force in Germany in April 2017, made eInvoicing mandatory for all federal contracting entities, regardless of the invoice amount.
The eInvoice Act also stipulates specific dates for the implementation of electronic invoicing. According to this,
- As of 27.11.2018, eInvoice is mandatory for top federal administrative authorities,
- As of 27.11.2019, eInvoice has been made compulsory for all federal-level public institutions and contracting entities regardless of the contract value.
This law applies only to regulations for federal institutions, and local authorities affected by EU Directive 2014/55 require additional legislation from the federal states (Länder).
eInvoice Platform and eInvoice Management Solutions
There are different eInvoicing platforms required or recommended by the German government for public procurement. Which eInvoicing platform uses in the states depends on the public authority. The formats used must be valid for XRechnung and all other standards-compliant with the European Norm (EN) 16931.
Approach to receiving and processing eInvoices
Most eInvoice transactions carry out according to bilateral agreements between government agencies and economic operators (or solution providers acting on their behalf). Public institutions that receive eInvoices decide whether eInvoices will be processed as structured data or according to a non-automated process.
The situation regarding the implementation of the European Standard for Invoicing (EN)
At the federal level, each state has enacted different laws regarding eFatura, although the eInvoice law has been in effect since 2017. On the other hand, as part of the implementation of the 2014/55 / EU Directive on eInvoicing in public procurement in Germany, the National IT Planning Council has taken two decisions:
- In June 2017, XRechnung became mandatory for public authorities. XRechnung is the Basic Invoice User Specification (CIUS) of the European Norm (EN) 16931 on eInvoicing. National authorities may also accept other formats next to XRechnung.
- In April 2018, it decided to set up a standard web service for public authorities to carry eFatura (PEPPOL). The decision was taken in October 2018 to use the PEPPOL eDelivery Network for federal, regional, and local authorities.
As part of these decisions, the IT Standards Coordination Office (KoSIT) gives the responsibility to maintain the XRechnung and become the German PEPPOL Authority. XRechnung is a data exchange standard developed by the KoSIT and provided for eInvoices. XRechnung is a specific form of eInvoice, and technically it is an XML-based, machine-readable semantic data model. It has been the national standard for German public administration since 27.11.2020.
The Core Invoice Usage Specification (CIUS)
CIUS is used for XRechnung and ZugFeRD 2.0. CIUS complies with the European Norm (EN) 16931 regarding eInvoicing. German national authorities may accept other formats besides XRechnung. Germany can also benefit from PEPPOL CIUS.
Founded in 2010 by the Economic Management Working Group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Wirtschaftliche Verwaltung e.V. – AWV), the German eInvoicing Forum (Forum elektronische Rechnung Deutschland – FeRD) aims to promote the use of e-invoicing in the public and private sectors. Composed of ministries and other government bodies and members of significant industry associations, FeRD is also a voluntary organization based on the contributions of its members. ZUGFeRD develops by FeRD with the support of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. Invoice format is a cross-industry data format based on EU Directive 2014/55 for the electronic exchange of invoice data. One of the goals of ZUGFeRD is to improve communication between companies or between companies and the public administration by concluding a format agreement between the billing parties.