You are all familiar with e-invoices (electronic invoices): You often send them to your customers in PDF format. But this is not really legally safe and data protection compliant and, above all, technically reasonable. Therefore, the EU has approved a regulation on how digital invoices should be created. Since November 2020, this requirement has been mandatory for everyone working with public sector clients.
What is XRechnung?
The XRechnung is a (highly official) standard for data exchange for electronic invoices. Indeed it is a document in the form of an XML file, in which there is a lot of cryptic machine language and nothing else is hiding behind it all your information that would otherwise be readable on your invoice. Just spelled differently and with a little more information for machines.
Deutsche Bahn has put a sample file online. Here you can get an XRechnung in XML look at.
Background: With the European standard for e-invoicing EN-16931, the EU has decided how e-invoices should be designed in the future (and that does not mean their appearance, but their content and, above all, the digital file type ). As a result, the IT planning council for the federal and state government decided in mid-2017 on the XRechnung standard format as a German implementation of the European standard.
If you want to know more about the defined standards specified by EU rules, you can Here Light.
Who needs XRechnung?
In short, one could say: all of us. It's a bit strange in our highly digitized world that we enter booking amounts from invoices or paper invoices into our accounting software. or the previous digitization of invoices was a PDF, a file format in which it is also necessary to manually transfer the amounts.
Well, that should change with true e-invoicing: it can even be processed automatically. And so that no damage happens, the legislator has specified a clear digital structure. The XRechnung should improve both security and usability.
Indeed, it will likely take some time before these requirements are implemented throughout the business cycle. While there are efforts, see also ZUGFeRD below in the text.
But: Those who do business with the authorities must now comply with these standards. Hence the question:
For whom is the XRechnung compulsory?
THE The XRechnung obligation applies to everyone who carries out orders for the authorities.
The European Union has declared e-invoices binding for invoicing public procurement. In Germany, the following timetable is foreseen: Invoicing of public procurement contracts only in electronic format
- with the highest federal authorities since 27 November 2018,
- for all other federal authorities from 27 November 2019,
- in all authorities from 27 November 2020.
IMPORTANT: Since the end of November 2020, all companies working with any authority are obliged to use XRechnung.
By the way: invoices from this date Not in the prescribed XRechnung electronic format received by the invoice recipients, they are rejected and no longer paid. There are some exceptions: invoices from direct orders up to an amount of EUR 1,000 (net) and invoices from specific orders for defense and security or certain foreign services.
eInvoice: conditions for a “correct” digital invoice.
There are fundamentals Regulations, how an invoice is designed they must be in such a way that they can be presented to the tax authorities and, for example, deducted from the input tax paid. It doesn't matter if it's a paper invoice or a digital invoice. These are the conditions:
- authenticity of origin
- integrity of the invoice content
- legibility of the invoice
- Fulfillment of all legal requirements for a sales tax invoice
In this specialist article, we have prepared for you in detail what you need to keep in mind when creating an invoice. Basics “Write an invoice”: Create a suitable invoice, including a sample invoice
How does XRechnung work?
Well here at the latest it becomes apparent that specifications, deadlines and plans fail due to reality. The XRechnung works only partially. In any case, it still doesn't work everywhere where it should be mandatory … so also in all authorities of the German federal states …
German federalism makes a patchwork quilt
Unlike France, for example, which is centrally organized, individual state governments in Germany are responsible for translating the EU directive into valid state law. We call it the “country thing”.
As in many areas, this federalism (i.e. the federal states determine themselves) creates a certain confusion: the federal states use the regulatory margin of the EU regulation and this has led to a “patchwork” of different electronic invoice format specifications, approved transmission routes, portal technical solutions and other country-specific features.
Furthermore, not all federal states or even municipalities have completed their specifications yet, some are still in the planning and preparation phase.
As a result, there will probably not be a uniform regulation for all authorities and you will be forced to inform yourself about the current status depending on the federal state or municipality with which you do business and to implement the corresponding technical solution for digital invoices.
The current status of the provisions on electronic invoices for the Confederation and in the federal states can be found at E-Invoicing Forum Germany here online.
How do you actually create an XRechnung?
In principle, the implementation at the federal level has XRechnung as the preferred (and only) format! So solutions like ZUGFeRD (see below) basically offer the same way as digital invoices, but are most likely not approved. (This is still a matter of debate.)
Electronic invoices must be submitted to affected federal customers via the federal government's Central Invoice Receipt Platform (ZRE). A prerequisite for this is one Registration with the ZRE.
Create XRechnung by email
You can send XRechnung that you created yourself to ZRE by email. Prerequisite: Registration with the ZRE
Create XRechnung via web service (PEPPOL)
X invoices can be sent via PEPPOL, a pan-European network for the exchange of electronic data, via a freely accessible ZRE access point.
Create XRechnung by manually uploading the file
Manual loading of a self-created XRechnung is also possible via ZRE. Prerequisite: Registration with the ZRE
Create XRechnung via web form
If you are not able to create an invoice in XRechnung format yourself, you can do it using a web form (guided) in ZRE.
Create XRechnung via De-Mail (planning)
In future it should also be possible to send XRechnung to ZRE by De-Mail. Prerequisite: Registration with the ZRE
Mandatory fields for your XRechnung
The E-Rech-VO of the federal government requires the following mandatory fields for the creation of your XRechnung from the federal government:
• Path ID
• Bank account details
• Terms of payment
• De-Mail or e-mail address of the invoice issuer
• Supplier number (if already assigned)
• Order number (if already assigned)
What is the Routing ID?
With routing ID, a bill recipient is clearly identified and can be addressed. With this number, the central invoice receiving platforms of the Confederation and all associated and certified systems can recognize who should actually receive the invoice.
You must enter the route ID in your XRechnung in the field “Buyer reference” (BT-10). It is mandatory on every e-bill.
Basically, the Path ID contains three components:
- coarse addressing,
- end addressing e
- check digit.
Here is a diagram explaining the structure of the number:
Where do you get the Routing ID?
The Central Department of Confederation Finance (ZFB) is responsible for invoices to the Confederation. Further information on applying for the Leitweg-ID can be requested from the ZFB via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending on the federal state, who can tell you that the statewide routing ID must be from Document the current implementation status of countries choose.
ZUGFeRD & Factur X: alternatives for XRechnung
Theoretically, there is not only the XRechnung format for transmitting electronic invoice data to the ZRE. Other standards-compliant formats, such as the ZUGFeRD 2.0 data format, are also possible.
However, there is a catch: Depending on how strictly the requirements of the Federal Government's E-Rech-VO are interpreted, other data formats may be omitted. It is currently assumed that ZUGFeRD 2.0 also meets the requirements and can therefore be accepted. But the discussion probably isn't over yet.
What is ZUGFeRD?
Together with associations, companies and authorities, the Electronic Invoice Germany Forum has developed a uniform billing data format for the exchange of electronic invoices under the name ZUGFeRD (Central User Guide for the Electronic Invoice Germany Forum).
The format was ready before the XRechnung and has some technical advantages. XRechnung is optimized for German authorities, ZUGFeRD has oriented itself more closely to the needs of the economy and, with version 2.0, has also integrated all XRechnung specifications.
So for you? If only it could be that easy! This will probably be decided in the near future, but from today's point of view we can't really make any recommendations for one or the other.
By the way: Internationally neither ZUGFeRD nor XRechnung are very well known, there the term “Factur X” is used in connection with electronic invoices.
What is Factor-X?
Factur-X is the name commonly used in France for the Franco-German standard for hybrid electronic invoices. Factur-X is fully compatible and technically identical to ZUGFeRD version 2.1. You can find more information about Factor-X here Here.
Like you on that Deutsche Bahn XML example As you can see, it is impossible to simply notate an XRechnung like any other invoice in the past. It's actually a format that needs to be created. There are several ways to do this:
Create an XRechnung from your accounting/invoicing program
Many, if not most, accounting and invoicing programs now have built-in XRechnung export or generation. So if you already have an accounting or billing program, you can take a closer look.
** TIP ** In the following article we show you the various accounting programs and invoicing programs with which you can create XRechnung:
Create XRechnung online with a generator
Individual websites have specialized in supporting you in generating an XRechnung. Here you usually have to enter your invoice data and at the end the ser vizio issues an XRechnung or an electronic invoice according to the ZUGFeRD standard.
This method is certainly ok for individual XRechnung, but since you have to think about billing in your workflow in the long run, you should look for a fundamental solution, for example with a good billing or accounting program.
Is it possible to create an XRechnung for free?
Indeed, XRechnung itself is not a feature that you have to pay extra for. The function is part of the range of services in the usual accounting and billing programs. More on this in a future article.
Generators also usually offer the service for free (at least after signing up), although you may have to pay for extra services like storage etc. We'll talk about it soon our overview of XRechnungs tools.
Accounting with electronic invoice: No difference
By the way: Electronic invoices such as XRechnung or ZUGFeRD are recorded like paper invoices and the principles for the correct handling and archiving of books, registers and documents in electronic format as well as for access to data (GoBD) also apply.
However, it is advisable to record these invoices in a separate account so that you can find them more quickly.