eInvoicing is the exchange between a supplier and a buyer of an eInvoice, which is an invoice issued, sent and received in a structured data format that allows for its automatic and electronic processing, as defined in the eInvoicing directive. In the European Union (EU), businesses and public administrations use the European standard on eInvoicing. The European Commission introduced the standard in 2017 to streamline the eInvoice formats used across the EU and, in turn, foster simplifications and significant cost savings for all stakeholders.
How has eInvoicing evolved to keep up with emerging trends and needs?
The adoption of the eInvoicing Directive 2014/55/EU in 2014 marked an important step towards promoting the uptake of electronic invoicing, not only in Europe but also globally. Since then, several policy and market developments have taken place in the context of electronic invoicing to ensure that the directive remains relevant in a rapidly evolving digital era.
The Commission has been closely working with electronic invoicing stakeholders to craft strategies that meet their needs. As a result, the European standard has been widely embraced at both the European and international levels. Furthermore, recent policy developments, such as the European Commission's new proposal on VAT (Value Added Tax) reporting, illustrate the Commission’s commitment to continuously reinforce electronic invoicing in the EU.
The Commission launched a call for evidence in March 2023 to ensure the eInvoicing directive continues to align with stakeholders’ views on emerging trends and needs.
How eInvoicing facilitates exchanges between businesses and public administrations
eInvoicing makes the process of issuing, sending, and receiving invoices smoother and more efficient. Overall, the eInvoicing directive aims at
- facilitating the use of eInvoicing by economic operators when supplying goods, services, and works to public administrations using a common standard that enables both government to government (G2G) and business to business (B2B) exchanges
- fostering a digital single market for eInvoicing by simplifying and harmonising technical implementations based on the European standard on eInvoicing
- encouraging the widespread adoption of eInvoicing by providing resources to all EU stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of electronic invoicing
The eInvoicing directive requires EU public administrations to receive and process all electronic invoices – compliant with the European standard – issued under contracts to which the EU public procurement directives apply (Directive 2009/81/EC; Directive 2014/23/EU; Directive 2014/24/EU and Directive 2014/25/EU).
How does it work at European and national level?
Since the implementation of the eInvoicing directive in April 2020, all public administrations across the EU comply with the European standard on eInvoicing. The directive has reduced trade barriers arising from different national legal requirements and technical standards for electronic invoicing.
The eInvoicing Country Factsheets provide comprehensive information on the eInvoicing policies and practices of all 27 EU countries and 4 additional European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Please check out the eInvoicing Country Factsheets to learn about each country’s policy framework, eInvoicing platform (if existing), approach for receiving and processing electronic invoices, monitoring of eInvoicing implementation, use of Core Invoicing Usage Specifications (CIUS), digital reporting requirements, and much more.
What are the benefits of eInvoicing?
The adoption of eInvoicing supports the digital and green transformation – the so-called ‘twin’ transition – by
- quickly processing the information and data contained in electronic invoices and feeding them directly into a company's payment and accounting systems
- replacing the physical paper forms with a structured machine-readable electronic form that allows for more efficient handling and archiving of invoices
- providing significant savings in printing, postage, intra-office routing and archiving, and human resources significantly reduces errors in data entries
For more information on the positive impacts of eInvoicing on EU competitiveness, please visit our eInvoicing benefits page.
International adoption of eInvoicing
Several non-EU countries, such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, have adopted the EU model on electronic invoicing. Other countries and regions have used the European model as a reference, adapting it to their specific needs.
Recent developments in non-EU countries show that the European model can be further promoted outside the EU. The promotion of an eInvoicing infrastructure that is interoperable with the European model offers the opportunity to minimise interoperability costs for EU businesses in extra-EU trade and maximising the uptake of investments and implementations already carried out by EU-based entities in the context of eInvoicing application. For this reason, the Commission will continue its efforts to foster the international adoption of the European model through agreements and partnerships with non-EU countries.
How does eInvoicing fit within the Digital Europe Programme?
Starting in 2022, the eInvoicing Building Block continued and developed eInvoicing initiatives within the scope of the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL), focusing on stakeholder initiatives. Until 2021, the Connecting Europe Facilities (CEF) programme managed einvoicing activities.
The DIGITAL eInvoicing Building Block aims to promote and accelerate the uptake of eInvoicing amongst public and private entities in EU countries and additional EEA countries. The eInvoicing Building Block achieves this by supporting public administrations in complying with EU eInvoicing legislation and helping service and solution providers to adapt their offering accordingly.
For more information on the eInvoicing Building Block, please visit our eInvoicing DIGITAL website.