What does XRechnung mean?
More and more invoices are being created and transmitted electronically. This is due in particular to the mandatory dispatch of e-invoices for public contracts (B2G sector). However, electronic invoices are also on the rise in business-to-business transactions (B2B sector). In the case of electronic invoice exchange, xinvoices in XML data format and hybrid invoices according to the ZUGFeRD standard prove themselves due to legal provisions. What does XInvoicemean, when is this invoice format mandatory, how can Xinvoices be created and what is the difference to ZUGFeRD?
XBills and Law
The X-invoice is a special e-invoice, which applies in Germany to the electronic transmission of invoices for public contracts by default. According to the E-Invoice Regulation, billers who are subject to this e-invoice obligation must submit electronic invoices as X invoices. The X-invoice is defined by law as a German standardthat meets the requirements of the European CEN data model 100 percent.
XInvoices as a duty
From 27 November 2020, all contractors supplying goods or services to the Confederation will be required to prepare e-invoices in structured formats such as the X-invoice. This means that public contractors can only send electronic invoices (e-invoices) to federal authorities. Otherwise, these invoices will not be accepted. The obligation to prepare and submit xinvoices from 27 November 2020 is the result of the requirements of EU Directive 2014/55/EU and the E-Invoice Regulation adopted by the Confederation in implementation of EU rules. With the exception of a few exceptions, such as the small limit and special security arrangements, this obligation applies without restriction. Conversely, contracting authorities must accept these e-invoices from certain reference dates. This has been the case for the highest federal authorities and constitutional bodies of the federal government since 27 November 2018. All other institutions that are recipients of the invoice within the meaning of the Federal E-Rech-VO shall observe 27 November 2019 as the cut-off date. In the period up to 2020, the contracting authorities of the Länder and municipal clients will also follow.
What do Xbills look like?
From the user’s point of view, an X-bill is a data exchange model that provides all data to the invoice in a structured manner as an XML format. It is a semantic data model that maps all legally binding contents of an invoice and serves machine processing. This means that X-bills contain all general mandatory information of an invoice in accordance with Section 14 UStG and all special components of an e-invoice in accordance with Section 5 E-Rech-VO. This German data exchange standard can be implemented as a technology-neutral format in IT solutions and is purely machine-readable. From July 1, 2019 to December 30, 2019, XInvoice version 1.2.0 will apply. From January 1, 2020, the new version 1.2.1 will be available for XBills.
XBills and Software
Companies supplying to contracting authorities must create the necessary conditions to be able to draw up Xinvoices by 27 November 2020 at the latest. Until then, you have time to prepare for electronic invoice shipment and to switch to appropriate software solutions for Xinvoices. This requires adjustments to the technical systems and the company’s internal processes during invoicing. The obligation to invoice deliveries for contracting authorities applies to companies of all sizes.
The obligation to create e-invoices affects not only the suppliers themselves, but also those providers that offer software solutions for invoicing. It is part of their remit to develop software for XBills and to provide the necessary functions for the production and transmission of such invoices. Providers have designed conversion solutions for the creation of e-invoices that convert traditional invoices into X invoices. Many companies that need to create Xinvoices use classic ERP systems from manufacturers such as SAP, Microsoft, or Oracle. For the import and export of data, the systems have standardized interfaces that provide the basis for conversion to other formats. By using a suitable conversion solution, companies can convert invoices created in ERP export format to X invoices. The reverse conversion process is also possible.
X Create and edit invoices in SAP
Software service providers have developed solutions to be able to create Xinvoices directly in the SAP ERP system. This means that invoices that have to be sent according to the German Xinvoice format can be generated immediately during the invoicing process with SAP. Companies that work with SAP can have an SAP add-in installed that converts an SAP invoice into an XML invoice. The software solution for Xcalculations is modular and therefore allows individual components to be used. This allows an adjustment in terms of functionalities and prices. In addition, the software for X-bills can be implemented into the existing IT system of the company according to the individual requirements. A software solution for X-calculations offers in particular these functionalities:
- Create XCalculations: The user can generate Xinvoices in XML file format from the SAP ERP system.
- Validate XInvoices: One functionality is to check Xinvoices for the correct file format and full invoice content. This validation tool is a good tool for sending X invoices to the public administration.
- X Converting and editing invoices: To enable employees to process X invoices, there is another function module for SAP users. This allows the XML invoice file to be converted to a PDF or HTML file. These converted invoice files are displayed in a viewer.
- Invoice outbox: In an invoice source book, users see both the X invoices and the ZUGFeRD invoices and PDF files in an overview. You can view the electronic invoices with the SAP solution as a PDF file or HTML page. It is also possible to upload file attachments. In addition, the route identification number can be inserted directly before the invoice is dispatched. The electronic invoice is released either manually or automatically for shipping.
- XSend invoices: Various channels are available for the transmission of Xinvoices. This includes sending invoices by e-mail, uploading an online form and fully automatic transmission via web services (PEPPOL) with an EDI service provider.
PepPOL is a popular variant for companies that send a large number of e-invoices, which is also proven in the B2B sector. Once connected to this web service, the company can submit invoices to any PEPPOL participant worldwide. This applies to both public authorities and companies.
Difference XInvoice standard and ZUGFeRD
The main difference between the XInvoice Data Model and ZUGFeRD is that XCalculations are pure XML files for machine processing. In contrast, ZUGFeRD invoices are also readable by humans. Invoices based on this hybrid data model include a human-usable PDF filein addition to the structured electronic XML file. They can be delivered by e-mail. The invoice recipient receives a PDF document to which the XML file is attached. It can print the invoice as a PDF file and feed it into the system as an XML file. The ZUGFeRD 2.0 version fully complies with the requirements of EU standard 16931 and can therefore also be used for sending invoices to contracting authorities.
Another difference between the XInvoice Standard and ZUGFeRD is in the area of use. XInvoices are the legal invoice format for public administration contracts. Thus, the X-invoice data model is mainly used in the B2G (Business to Government) sector. In contrast, many companies in the B2B sector prefer the FORMAT ZUGFeRD. ZUGFeRD enables an optimized exchange of invoices between companies and is also suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises that are not tech-savvy. Since ZUGFeRD additionally provides the invoice data as an image part in the PDF, companies that do not have automated invoice processing can also receive such invoices. Conversely, those companies that process invoices largely automatically transfer the invoice data of the XML data into their systems. Due to the hybrid structure (XML file and PDF document), all invoice recipients can use ZUGFeRD ideally.
Accounting and ERP software vendors develop specialized application solutions that allow companies to create and process ZUGFeRD invoices as part of traditional software. It is also possible to implement ZUGFeRD in company-specific software solutions.