We find it important to shed some light on the legal aspects of electronic invoicing. Recent European legislation has cleared up the fog which has been hanging around e-invoicing for quite some time. Since 2004, e-invoicing has a clear legal foundation in the European Union.
From a EU VAT perspective, it is allowed to replace paper invoices and records by electronic invoices. This is possible to the extent that certain requirements outlined in the Sixth EU VAT Directive and local VAT legislations are met. As from 1 January 2004, this Directive provides a harmonized foundation layer in the EU Member States with regard to the invoicing process, the content of an invoice, electronic invoicing and (electronic) archiving of invoices. Each individual country has implemented this Directive and applied its own accents in country legislations.
According to the Sixth EU VAT Directive, invoices may be sent either on paper or, subject to an acceptance by the customer, by electronic means. Member States should accept invoices sent by electronic means provided that the authenticity of their origin and the integrity of their content are guaranteed by:
- Means of an advanced electronic signature as defined in an EU Directive dated 13 December 1999;
- Means of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) as defined in a Recommendation by the EU Commission dated 19 October 1994;
- Other means subject to acceptance by the Member State(s) concerned.
Advalvas is adviced by the Tax department of PriceWaterhouseCoopers in order to comply with all legislation, past, present and future. In the interest of clear and open communications, it is also important to flag that since 2002 government authorisation (cfr. in Belgium by the Ministry of Finance) is no longer required to start invoicing electronically.