Electronic Invoicing

In December 2001, Directive 2001/115/EC was adopted amending the Sixth Directive with a view to simplifying, modernising and harmonising the conditions laid down for invoicing in respect of VAT.

The general obligation to issue an invoice is set out in Article 22(3)(a) of the Sixth VAT Directive. The right to delegate the obligation to issue an invoice to a third party (outsourcing) or to the customer (self-billing) is now explicitly laid down.

As far as electronic invoicing is concerned, Article 22(3)(c) allows invoices to be sent on paper or by electronic means provided the authenticity of the origin and integrity of the contents are guaranteed. This may be achieved via advanced electronic signature (in accordance with Directive 1999/93/EC), or by means of EDI (electronic data interchange). Invoices may be sent by other electronic means subject to acceptance by the Member States concerned.

There are detailed regulations regarding invoice contents, invoice storage as well as right of access to invoices stored by electronic means in another Member State. Although Article 22(8) allows Member States to lay down additional obligations to ensure the correct collection of tax and to combat evasion, Directive 2001/115/EC amends this provision to ensure additional obligations on the invoicing procedure cannot be imposed, as harmonisation has been introduced.

The Directive entered into force on 6 February 2002 and Member States are required to comply with it from 1 January 2004.