In its 2020 Finance Act, the French government decided that electronic invoicing would become compulsory for B2B transactions between French companies. The transition to electronic invoicing will take place gradually, starting on 1 July 2024 and continuing until 1 January 2026, depending on the size of the company concerned. The reform is based on the creation of a Public Billing Portal (PPF) through which all French invoicing flows will pass. However, the PPF will not accept all types of invoice formats. Only the XML UBL, XML CII and Factur-X formats will be authorised, although it will be possible to use other formats, such as EDI, if you work with a partner dematerialisation platform (PDP).
But the future implementation of this so-called mixed invoice format is also linked to a legislative and technological context. In their fight against VAT fraud, the public authorities are pursuing a policy of encouraging the dematerialisation of invoices. The switch to electronic invoicing is accelerating worldwide: 2.5 billion business-to-business invoices are issued each year, and 15 in 2019 were dematerialised, compared with 5% in 2015. Find out all the ins and outs in this article!
- 1 Understanding the Factur-X format
- 2 Factur-X: dates you need to know
- 3 The advantages of the Factur-X format
- 4 How do I create an Invoice-X?
- 5 Supplier portals as a way to submit Factur-X invoices
- 6 Who can use Factur-x?
- 7 How do I set up a Factur-X system?
- 8 Factur-x by Weproc
- 9 Factur-X regulations
- 10 Secure your transactions with electronic invoicing
- 11 FAQ
- 12 Factur-X: Anticipate the transition to mandatory electronic invoicing
Understanding the Factur-X format
Factur-X is an electronic invoice format. As a reminder, an electronic invoice is an invoice that is created, issued and received in electronic form. Factur-X was created jointly by France and Germany in 2017. This format meets the requirements of the European standard EN16931 set up by the European Commission for Standardisation (CEN). In France, it was developed by the Forum national de la Facturation électronique et des marchés publics électroniques (FNFE-MPE) and its German equivalent, FeRD.Together with France, Germany has developed the hybrid ZUGFeRD 2.1 / Factur-X format to make electronic data exchange accessible to all businesses, regardless of their size or potential resources. This standard combines the two most widely used invoice formats: XML and PDF format.
Thanks to its detailed information view & structured invoice format, Factur-X creates added value for suppliers and billers alike
Factur-X: a blend of data and technology
But what exactly is Factur-X? It’sa PDF/A-3 file, in other words, a mixed or “hybrid” format that combines both a PDF and a structured format. In other words, this format is made up of :
- an invoice in human-readable PDF format
- an XML structured data file (XML file) containing invoice details.
The structured part will enable the invoice to be automatically integrated into your management system, such as ERP, or your accounting software.
Factur-X data profiles
To facilitate the adoption and widespread use of this electronic invoice format, different data profiles have been set up to suit different company sizes:
- MINIMUM: corresponds to the extraction of header and footer data by OCR. This corresponds to the minimum data required by the Chorus Pro platform as part of the mandatory electronic invoice for B2G exchanges in France.
- BASIC WL (Without Lines): corresponds to the header and footer data most commonly used by buyers.
- BASIC: adds essential line data to the BASIC WL profile.
- EN 16931: includes all data listed in the European semantic standard EN16931.
- EXTENDED: corresponds to the previous profile, but takes into account more complex business processes (invoices with multiple delivery locations, specific payment conditions, payment terms, etc.)
Factur-X: dates you need to know
To help companies adapt to these new invoicing obligations, a progressive roll-out schedule between 2024 and 2026 has been deployed. Electronic invoicing will be mandatory :
- July 1, 2024, for incoming invoices, forall companies subject to VAT,
- July 1,2024, for transmission, but only for large companies,
- January 1, 2025 for transmission, for medium-sized companies,
- January 1, 2026 , for small and medium-sized businesses and micro-businesses.
It is therefore important to anticipate the implementation of electronic invoicing software. But it’s just as important to start looking for storage platforms for Factur-X invoices. As mentioned above, it will be mandatory to be able to receive Factur-X invoices from July 1, 2024.
The advantages of the Factur-X format
Why use the Factur-X format at all? The Factur-X invoice format enables automated processing of your invoices. This reduces the risk of errors and disputes, and cuts the administrative costs of invoice management. Factur-X also speeds up the invoicing process by reducing the time it takes to receive and pay invoices, so you can concentrate on higher value-added tasks. With an automated process, Factur-X also minimizes typing errors and other mistakes that can occur during manual invoicing, reinforcing the accuracy and integrity of your billing data. Overall, you optimize your costs, secure your information and improve your business relationships. Factur-X means greater productivity and profitability.
How do I create an Invoice-X?
To create a Factur-X, you now need to work with a provider of dematerialization services for invoices issued. After that, the solution will vary according to your internal capabilities.
Dematerialization Operators (DO)
A Dematerialization Operator (DO) is a private company that offers a platform for issuing, sending and receiving electronic invoices. It acts as an intermediary between a company and the Public Billing Portal (PPF) or Partner Dematerialization Platform (PDP). The Dematerialization Operator therefore plays an essential role in the e-invoicing process, facilitating the management and transmission of invoices in Factur-X format. It is important to note that not all operators offering e-invoicing services are necessarily recognized as PDPs by the tax authorities. Consequently, when choosing a dematerialization operator, it is important to check its status and recognition by the tax authorities.
The Partner Dematerialization Platform (PDP)
A Partner Dematerialization Platform (PDP) is a key player in the e-invoicing process. As a certified private partner registered with the tax authorities, the PDP provides a secure link between companies and the government. Its mission is to receive, process and transmit electronic invoices and their associated data (XML data for Factur-X).
The PDP is responsible for converting documents into the appropriate electronic formats and checking their conformity. It ensures that all the necessary information, such as the identity of the parties, the amounts invoiced and the legal notices, is correct before transmitting them.
As part of the new electronic invoicing obligation, the Partner Dematerialization Platform plays an essential role in facilitating the transmission of invoices and data between companies, the public invoicing portal and the tax authorities. Although no player has yet been approved as a PDP, the first will be announced in 2023.
The Public Billing Portal (known as PPF)
The public invoicing portal (PPF) is a platform part of the reform of invoicing between companies in France and Europe. It is a secure electronic solution that simplifies the exchange of invoices between companies and the tax authorities.
As a trusted public third party, the PPF ensures the confidentiality and security of exchanged data. It plays a crucial role in the implementation of electronic invoicing in France.
The Public Billing Portal offers numerous advantages. It simplifies invoicing procedures by offering an easy-to-use electronic solution available to all for free. It also helps to reduce the costs associated with managing paper invoices, and to protect the environment.
The PPF will be deployed from July 2024, marking a major step in the transition to electronic invoicing in France.
Supplier portals as a way to submit Factur-X invoices
Some major groups have a supplier portal where the sender can submit invoices as digital files (simple or signed PDFs, and image formats). EDF and the major construction groups all have intranets open to their subcontractors, on which they exchange documents, bids, estimates, invoices, etc., with each other.
On the public side, Chorus Pro is a public services portal for B2G invoice submission. This mode of operation requires supplier authentication checks and specific data processing before invoices can be integrated into official accounting systems.
For other french companies that need to be able to receive and store invoices in Factur-X format, certain software packages such as Weproc offer a supplier portal that enables all your suppliers to submit their invoices directly, which are reconciled with purchase orders and stored directly in the software, in Factur-X format.
Who can use Factur-x?
Factur-X is an electronic invoicing standard for all companies, regardless of size or sector. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, Factur-X is designed to meet your invoicing needs, making it easy to adopt.
One of Factur-X’s key assets is its flexibility. It offers different profiles, ranging from the minimum, ideal for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to the extended, which offers a range of specific functionalities suited to larger companies. These profiles all comply with European EN 16931 standards, which means you can issue electronic invoices valid throughout the European Union.
How do I set up a Factur-X system?
For the company issuing the invoice, implementing the Factur-X format is simple. It requires no change of invoicing software, and no major investment.
All the issuer has to do is continue to issue invoices in PDF format, with all the usual legal and commercial requirements.
To convert the PDF invoice to Factur-X, it will be necessary to use an intermediary or a dematerialized platform that supports conversion from PDF to PDF/A3 format. The sender, for example, can opt for a PDF/A3 format electronically signed with an RGS (Référence Générale de Sécurité) certificate. The PDF/A3 invoice is then sent to the recipient. The information is recorded, and in this way, the issuing company frees itself from the obligation to record a reliable audit trail.
Guidelines for dematerializing invoices
The dematerialization of invoices is a process that must be carried out in compliance with certain rules and procedures defined by law. These rules concern both the issuing and storage of electronic invoices.
When it comes to issuing electronic invoices, several options are available. You can opt for :
- Use of electronic signatures,
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for sending invoices,
- Or any other technological solution that brings together the documents required as part of the Reliable Audit Trail.
As for invoice retention, it is important to note that electronic invoices must be kept on a computer medium for three years, then on another medium for a further three years. For invoices with an electronic signature, the original document must be kept for six years. Similarly, for EDI invoices, the information must be kept for six years.
When it comes to invoice format, there are a number of options available, such as PDF, EDI, scan, and so on. However, we recommend that you let your suppliers choose the format that suits them best, to facilitate their involvement in the dematerialization process. Their participation is essential to the success of the process.
Choosing your invoicing software
To choose the right invoicing software for Factur-X, it’s essential to start by assessing your specific needs. How many invoices do you issue each month? How complex are they? Do you need specific functionalities? Once you have a clear idea of your needs, you can start looking for software compatible with Factur-X. Make sure they are capable of generating invoices in this format, and that they comply with all Factur-X specifications.
Good invoicing software should be easy to use. It should have an intuitive interface and features that make it easy to receive, store and manage invoices. Automation can also make managing your invoices much easier. Look for software that offers automation features, such as automatic invoice receipt or automatic payment tracking.
Weproc offers precisely this kind of functionality!
Factur-x by Weproc
At Weproc, we’ve integrated Factur-X into the heart of our e-invoicing module, designed specifically to digitize supplier invoices.
We offer a single platform where you can manage your entire purchasing process, from creating purchase requisitions to managing your invoices. With Weproc, your invoices are automatically reconciled with your purchase orders and stored in Factur-X format, in compliance with new regulations. What’s more, our platform enables you to track your budgets in real time, giving you complete visibility of your expenses.
Factur-X is based on the semantic standard EN 16931. The latter was designed as a common standard for France and Germany, making Factur-X an effective compromise that is both human- and computer-readable.
Visually, Factur-X resembles a standard PDF document. However, it is associated with an XML file that contains all the invoice-specific metadata, such as invoice number, date, sender and receiver identities, amounts, and much more. All in full compliance with European standards.
Like all invoices, the Factur-X must include a set of mandatory details to comply with regulations. These include :
- The identity of the seller or service provider.
- Invoice date.
- VAT identification number.
- VAT rate legally applicable.
- The identity of the buyer or customer.
- Description and breakdown of products and services rendered.
- Invoice number.
- Date of sale of service.
- List price.
- Invoice address.
- Payment information.
- Amount due.
- Purchase order number.
- Price reduction, if applicable.
- The existence and duration of the two-year legal conformity guarantee (for certain goods).
These details are essential to ensure that Factur–X complies with current e–invoicing standards.
The Factur-X format for PPF
The Factur–X format is one of the 3 mandatory base formats to be accepted by the French Public Billing Portal (PPF). The other two are XML UBL and XML CII.
In other words, it will only be possible to send invoices in one of these three formats to the PPF.
As part of the 2024 obligations, only the profiles below will be authorized for the Factur–X format:
- BASIC WL
- EN 16931
Depending on your needs and those of your partners, it may be necessary to opt for at least the BASIC profile, which contains the essential line data.
Sanctions for non-compliance
It’s important to understand that failure to comply with Factur-X regulations can result in heavy penalties. Currently, the regulations provide for a fine of 15 euros per non–compliant invoice, capped at 15,000 euros per year. In addition, failure to e–report can result in a fine of 250 euros per invoice, also capped at 15,000 euros per year. (source)
But the financial consequences don’t stop there. Under the new electronic invoicing system, any irregularity becomes immediately visible. This means that companies can be more easily penalized for failing to comply with the French Law on the Modernization of the Economy (LME), or for omitting some of the many obligatory details on their invoices.
As you can see, the threat of sanctions is very real, and should not be taken lightly. In addition to fines, failure to comply with regulations can also bring the company to the attention of the tax authorities, with all the consequences this can entail. It is therefore essential for companies to comply with the new e–invoicing regulations.
A major European shift
France, along with Italy and Poland, is at the forefront of the adoption of electronic invoicing in Europe. Several factors are driving this transition:
- Combating tax fraud: According to a report by the European Commission, EU member states lost 134 billion euros in VAT revenue in 2019 due to partial declarations.
- Improving business competitiveness: e–invoicing reduces invoice processing costs and helps combat late payment.
- Simplification of reporting obligations: electronic invoicing enables VAT returns to be pre-filled.
- More effective management of economic conditions: Real-time information on economic activity enables economic policy to be more closely aligned with reality on the ground.
However, the implementation of electronic invoicing differs from country to country. In Italy and Poland, a single platform has been set up (Fattura PA and KSeF). In France, the approach is more decentralized, with a master plan that enables the integration of different market solutions (OD, PPF, PDP, etc.).
Secure your transactions with electronic invoicing
Electronic invoicing is a powerful tool for strengthening the security of corporate financial transactions. By consolidating all administrative documents on a single platform, it offers a more efficient management and greater visibility of financial operations. Here are some key benefits:
- Implementing the PAF : Factur-X plays a crucial role in implementing the Reliable Audit Trail, a system designed to combat tax fraud. PAF requires proof of invoice authenticity, such as a scan of a paper invoice or a PDF invoice, thus guaranteeing that the invoice is authentic, unaltered and legible.
- Instant access to payment history: Electronic invoicing provides immediate access to payment history, facilitating financial management.
- Better visibility of banking operations: Electronic invoicing gives companies a clear overview of their banking operations, helping them to make informed financial decisions.
We know that Factur–X can raise a lot of questions. That’s why we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions here.
How to create an invoice in Factur-X format?
To create an invoice in Factur–X format, you’ll need an invoicing software able of generating this type of format. This software will convert your invoice information into an XML file, which is then attached to a PDF document. This process ensures that the invoice can be read by both humans and machines. It is important to note that all essential invoice information must be included in the XML file to ensure compliance with Factur-X standards.
What are Factur-X’s key dates?
The transition to Factur-X in France is scheduled to take place gradually, according to a specific timetable established to enable companies to adapt to these new requirements. Here are the key stages of the rollout:
- From July 1, 2024, all companies subject to VAT must be able to receive electronic invoices.
- On the same date, large companies will have to start issuing electronic invoices.
- From January 1, 2025, this obligation to issue electronic invoices will be extended to medium–sized businesses.
- Finally, from January 1, 2026, all small and medium–sized businesses, as well as micro–businesses, will also have to issue their invoices electronically.
What are the different ways of submitting Factur-X?
There are several ways to submit electronic invoices in Factur-X format:
- Public Billing Portal (PPF): This is a portal set up by the French government that accepts invoices in Factur-X format. Companies can upload their PDF invoices one by one to the PPF, which will generate a Factur–X format from their PDF using an OCR system.
- Partner Dematerialization Platform (PDP): Companies can also use a PDP to deposit their invoices. A PDP is a dematerialization operator that has been registered by the tax authorities.
- Dematerialization Operators (DO): ODs are intermediaries who transmit or retrieve invoices via the PPF or PDP and then extract the data.
- Supplier portals: Some major groups have a supplier portal on which the sender deposits his invoices in the form of digital files.
It is important to note that the choice of deposit method depends on the specific needs of each company.
What are the guidelines for dematerializing invoices?
The dematerialization of invoices is regulated by precise rules to guarantee their authenticity, integrity and legibility.
- Choice of format: Invoices must be issued in an approved dematerialized format, such as Factur–X, UBL or CII.
- Storage of invoices: Electronic invoices must be kept for 10 years. This retention must guarantee their legibility and integrity throughout this period.
- PAF: To prove the authenticity and integrity of the invoice, the company must set up a Reliable Audit Trail. This must make it possible to trace every stage in the invoice’s life, from issue to archiving.
- Mandatory information: As with paper invoices, electronic invoices must include certain mandatory information, such as invoice number, date, identity of seller and buyer, details of products or services sold, total amount payable, etc.
- Electronic signature: Although not mandatory, an electronic signature can be used to reinforce the invoice’s authenticity.
It is advisable to enlist the help of a dematerialization operator like Weproc to ensure compliance with all these rules.
Factur-X: Anticipate the transition to mandatory electronic invoicing
From 2024 onwards, all companies must be able to retrieve and store invoices received in Factur-X format. Weproc is a purchasing management software that enables you to track and manage your orders, as well as reconcile and store invoices in each of your files.
Weproc’s supplier portal lets you allow all your suppliers to submit their invoices directly in Factur–X format. Your invoice management is assured by automated reconciliation with purchase orders, while respecting the invoicing process.
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Weproc is a SaaS software specialized in digitizing the procurement process of companies. From purchase requests to supplier invoicing, through the validation process, Weproc is designed to simplify the purchase management of SMEs and mid-sized companies by centralizing all purchase-related activities.