German e-invoicing standard
EU Directive EN-16931 mandates the use of the structured data format XML for electronic invoice exchange, which enables automated invoice processing. A standardised semantic data model describes the information elements of an invoice and their mutual relationship and data types (e.g. the buyer’s name). The specification of the syntax (UBL and UN/CEFACT) ensures uniform technical implementation of e-invoicing within the EU.
As a national implementation of the data model, the XRechnung invoice standard in Germany supplements the EU standard with 21 specific national business rules to be applied to individual information elements and relationships between information elements. Thus, the standard takes into account the national requirements for invoicing – such as the E-RechV. It is illustrated by the example of the information element ‘buyer reference’ in the field ‘BT-10′:
- The ‘buyer reference’ (BT-10) is an optional content element according to the EU standard
- The ‘buyer reference’ (BT-10) is a mandatory information element according to German law. The XRechnung standard thus defines the ‘buyer reference’ as a mandatory content element in which the so-called buyer reference must be indicated.
The XRechnung standard is frequently reviewed and updated. Changes will be announced 6 months before enforcement. The currently valid version of the complete documentation of the standard is available on the KoSIT website.
An electronic invoice (e-invoice) is an invoice issued in a structured format in compliance with the EU standard, which is submitted and received electronically and enables seamless automatic and electronic processing.
- Designed as a purely semantic data format, e-invoicing enables invoice data to be imported into the processing systems directly and seamlessly.
- It is based on a structured XML format, which primarily only facilitates machine readability.
- By using display programs (so-called visualisation programs), the XML data set can be displayed in a way that is readable for humans.
There are various standards or specifications that enable electronic invoicing, e.g. XRechnung standard .
- The XRechnung standard represents a national version of European standard EN 16931, a so-called Core Invoice Usage Specification (CIUS).
- To ensure that every Member State can implement the European standard EN 16931 with its own country-specific requirements, each country defines its own specific CIUS.
- In Germany, the national version of the standard is called XRechnung. It is used for the standardised implementation of the requirements of public contracting authorities within the Federal Government in the majority of states and local authorities.
Depending on how outgoing invoices have been implemented so far, there are different implementation possibilities:
Do you use a service provider or commercially available software for invoicing? Contact the manufacturer and find out whether electronic invoicing is supported.
Do you use your own system? Clarify with your IT department which steps are necessary to create e-invoices in compliance with EU standard 16931 and the German legal situation. The currently valid version of the complete documentation of the standard is available on the KoSIT website.
If you are not using an outgoing invoice system or if you need an interim solution, familiarise yourself with the ZRE/OZG-RE web-based entry system.
The ZUGFeRD 2.1.1 profile ‘XRechnung’ generally meets the requirements and enables submission of invoices via the Federal Government’s platforms.
The XRechnung standard represents a national version of European standard EN 16931, a so-called Core Invoice Usage Specification (CIUS). The national design of the directive in the other EU Member States specifies it with local regulations within the framework stipulated by the standard.
The XRechnung XML data set must be viewed by the invoice recipient for further processing. Usually, the data set is viewed within the (ERP) system. KoSIT also offers a corresponding viewing component. The components to support viewing within a system are publicly available in the XRechnung GitHub.
If the invoice cannot be processed in a system-supported and automated way, the use of a viewing solution is recommended in order to better ‘detect’ potential errors.
Invoice issuers/senders also need to be able to view the original invoice – the XML data set – to complete accounting processes. The functionality can be integrated in the electronic outgoing invoice system or ensured via a dedicated viewing solution.
XRechnung is the standard for electronic invoicing for public contracting authorities and definitively implements Directive 2014/55/EU in Germany. The Coordination Office for IT Standards (Koordinierungsstelle für IT-Standards, in short: KoSIT) maintains and develops the XRechnung standard on behalf of the IT Planning Council. Furthermore, KoSIT coordinates the continuous development of XRechnung with assistance by experts from the Federal Government, the states and the municipalities.
Further information can be found on the KoSIT website .