Overview of electronic invoicing in Europe

In line with European recommendations, the use of e-invoicing for B2G transactions has grown significantly in Europe. Indeed, Directive 2014/55/EU requires public entities to be able to receive electronic invoices since 2020. On the B2B side, some countries such as Italy and Finland are leading the way, while others such as France and Belgium are preparing to take the plunge by making it mandatory for B2B. An overview of electronic invoicing in Europe.

Overview of electronic invoicing in Europe

Electronic invoicing in Europe: varied practices that are tending to harmonize

Although practices relating to electronic invoicing vary from one European country to another, they are tending to harmonize.

Italy, Finland: pioneers in electronic invoicing

Italy stands out in Europe as the pioneering state in e-invoicing, with the implementation of a dedicated platform (the SDI) even before the intervention of Directive 2014/55/EU. As early as 2014, Italy made e-invoicing mandatory for public sector organizations (B2G) and gradually rolled out the Sistema di Interscambio (SDI). Starting in 2019, the obligation has been extended to private companies (B2B and B2C). In B2B, the receipt of electronic invoices is subject to an accreditation procedure by the SDI. In most cases, this involves identifying the recipient by transmitting a unique code.

Finland is also a European example in the use of electronic invoicing. For the public sector, receiving invoices in electronic format only became mandatory in 2020, with the implementation of Directive 2014/55/EU. However, Finnish administrations already expressed their preference for this invoicing format ten years earlier. In the private sector, electronic invoicing is also widely used even though it has not yet been made mandatory.

The case of Norway is part of the same dynamic. While the use of electronic invoicing is only mandatory in public procurement, it is growing rapidly in the private sector.

    practical sheet electronic invoice

    France: electronic invoicing mandatory from 2024 in B2B

    In France, electronic invoicing has been provided for by law since 1990 (see Law no. 90-1169 of December 29, 1990, art. 47), well before the adoption of European measures. It is mandatory in B2G, in the framework of public procurement, since 2020. The specific Chorus Pro portal has been set up for this purpose. In the private sector, the obligation to use electronic invoicing will be progressively applied to B2B actors as of 2024 (see Finance Law for 2020 and Order of September 15, 2021). Initially imposed on private companies in reception, it will cover all B2B exchanges in 2026.

    In the same logic, in Belgium, electronic invoicing is an obligation in B2G, for public administrations and their suppliers. In the private sector, its use remains for the moment based on individual will, although the government has expressed its intention to make it mandatory for B2B exchanges.

    Germany, Spain: mandatory electronic invoicing in B2G and on a voluntary basis in B2B

    The use of electronic invoicing is only mandatory in Germany for B2G. Specifically, it is mandatory for public administrations and suppliers of the federal government and the state of Bremen. In B2B, the use of e-invoicing is voluntary for private companies, who are required to obtain the consent of their business partner for this purpose.

    The same is true in Sweden, where e-invoicing is only mandatory for public procurement and remains voluntary in the B2B domain.

    In the same vein, electronic invoicing is not yet mandatory for B2G in Luxembourg. However, the government has started work to make it mandatory for suppliers of public administrations. In B2B, it remains based on the voluntary nature of private actors.

    In Spain, the approach is similar: it is mandatory in B2G, and suppliers to public administrations are required to send their invoices to the General Entry Point for Electronic Invoices (PGEFe) to which the various administrations are connected. In B2B, electronic data interchange (EDI) with electronic signature dominates relations between private parties. Electronic invoicing therefore remains in the background, even though it has become mandatory in exchanges between major contractors and subcontractors in public markets since 2018.

    Finally, some European countries remain on the bangs of the movement towards the generalization of the obligation of electronic invoicing. These include Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland and Croatia, which have only adopted e-invoicing in the context of B2G relations.

    practical sheet electronic invoice

    From B2G to B2B: how the PEPPOL network promotes the harmonization of electronic invoicing in Europe


    The PEPPOL network (Pan-European Public Procurement OnLine) allows the standardized and secure processing of electronic transactions of international actors, whether they are in the public or private sector. The network guarantees both the interoperability of the different electronic invoicing systems and the conformity of the invoices to the national and international standards in force. In practice, access is provided through secure Access Points, of which more than 200 of the 300 in the world are located in Europe.

    If, at the beginning, the PEPPOL network was intended for invoicing in the B2G field, it is gradually becoming a reference in the B2B sector and tends, in this respect, to harmonize practices in the field of electronic invoicing.

    The major challenge that the PEPPOL network answers is that, for the international actors, to be able to rely on a reliable network facilitating the exchanges between all the systems of dematerialization of the invoices. The PEPPOL network is indeed the right answer to these needs, as it guarantees the handling of all B2G and B2B invoices, the conformity of the exchanges with the national and international standards related to the dematerialization of invoices and the standardization of the exchanges of the public and private sectors.

    Electronic invoicing is already a major issue in Europe. From 2024, it will be an obligation for all French companies. Freedz, future dematerialization platform partner (PDP), will accompany you in this transition. So don't wait any longer to adopt an innovative and secure solution for your electronic invoices: contact us!

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