XRechnung: No one can, all must?

Why the XRechnung is worth it, even if you don’t ‘have to’ switch over

“If you don’t switch to the new eInvoicing standard XRechnung in Germany now, you will sooner or later lose the connection in terms of digitisation. Companies that do business with public sector customers are even more under pressure. Because by 2020 at the latest, the much-feared eInvoice obligation for all suppliers of the federal government will follow…”!

This – or somehow similar – has been resonating for months from the relevant cover pages of the trade and business press. And indeed: The digitisation initiative initiated by the EU with Directive 2014/55/EU to switch to electronic invoicing in public procurement has the potential to change a lot – not only in the B2G sector.

No wonder, that the topic of eInvoicing is gaining more and more momentum in the public debate in Germany.

Keeping track in the electronic invoice jungle? It’s not that easy!

This is due to the much-noticed adoption of the so-called e-invoice law (E-Rech-G) 2017 and the much more concrete e-invoice ordinance (E-Rech-VO) as well as the numerous individual regulations at federal state level, which will now be successively implemented until 2020. After all, the rules of the E-Rech-VO only apply to invoice recipients of the federal authorities in Germany.

In the spirit of federalism, the Länder ‘federal states’ issue their own regulations as usual. This is a national peculiarity of the Federal Republic of Germany, which unfortunately also fuels great uncertainty among the affected economic players. However, it is still far from clear how and to what extent the numerous federal state regulations will comply with the requirements of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Possible – and not at all unlikely – would be, for example, an inconsistent design of the so-called “eInvoice obligation”:

While some federal states have already emphasised that they want to follow the example of the federal government in the form of a binding e-invoice requirement for all invoicing parties, others prefer a far more “lax” handling. There, invoicing parties could (at best) be free to choose how and in what format they transmit their invoices to the public administration in the future.

However, a scenario would also be conceivable in which simple PDF invoices by e-mail would no longer be accepted by many public clients in the near future. In accordance with the EU directive, these are not ‘genuine’ electronic invoices that can be processed automatically without any problems. A restriction to either properly prepared and transmitted eInvoices (e.g. in XRechnung format) or traditional paper invoices by post would then be a possible consequence.

In addition, some federal states have already announced their intention to go their own way in the technical implementation. Others rely on the recently introduced central invoice receipt platform of the federal government, the so-called ZRE ‘zentrale Rechnungseingangsplattform’.

XRechnung & Co. – one EU standard, (again) several standards

In order to complete the general confusion, invoicing parties who want to use electronic invoice exchange to send their outgoing invoices to government (and non-government) authorities in the future are also spoilt for choice when it comes to format issues:

  • The XRechnung is the federal government’s preferred eInvoice format. It is a German specification of the binding EU standard EN 16931 for electronic invoicing to public administrations – and consists only of a structured data set.
  • ZUGFeRD 2.0 is also a specific German eInvoicing standard. The further development of the popular hybrid format, which was not presented until March 13, 2019, is also compatible with EU requirements. In addition to the structured XML data set, it also consists of a “visible” component in the form of a PDF document.

Which of the available eInvoice formats companies with and without contracting authorities should rely on in the future cannot be answered globally at present.

Still: Switch to eInvoicing with XRechnung for the German market now!

Instead, it can make much more sense to simply deliberately not make a fixed commitment. As current developments show, there will most likely not be a single binding eInvoicing standard in the future. A general obligation for all federal states of Germany to transmit electronic invoices, possibly even in XRechnung format, is also rather unlikely.

And yet the switch to digital invoicing processes is paying off for many companies for purely economic reasons. After all, electronic invoices are not only secure, fast and modern, they are also significantly cheaper than traditional paper invoices.

The solution: With an experienced eInvoicing service provider such as XimantiX, the transition to electronic invoice dispatch, electronic invoice reception (or both) is a snap. And it is completely format and standard independent.