Invoicing the Federal Government in Germany and the XRechnung billing format continue to be fresh topics for suppliers of the government.
As of 27th November 2020, it became a legal requirement to invoice the Federal Government – and related administrations – electronically.
As a result, many businesses have been scrambling (for more than a year, now) to update their means of invoicing.
This short guide will explain everything that you need to know on the topic, including how to invoice the Federal Government yourself.
What Exactly Is An E-Invoice?
E-invoices – or electronic-invoices – are not merely ‘paperless invoices’.
Computers and software process correctly formatted e-invoices automatically. As a result, invoices processing requires fewer workers – and with the right software, e-invoicing can even require no workers!
So PDF or CSV invoices, for example, are NOT e-invoices. They are digital invoices.
Digital invoices cannot be processed automatically, despite being paperless. Their purpose is to be read by humans.
The German Federal Government only accepts e-invoice types that use XML language.
More specifically, they accept one of two XML languages: 1) Universal Business Language (UBL) or 2) UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice (CII).
The invoicing software of big administrations can automatically process XML files. That is the purpose of an e-invoice.
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XRechnung vs. ZUGFeRD: What’s The Difference?
XRechnung uses a single file: an XML file.
ZUGFeRD uses two files: an XML file and a PDF file.
ZUGFeRD 2.1.1’s XML file is compatible with the XRechnung standard.
So the difference is: ZUGFeRD uses a PDF file as well as the XML file that XRechnung also uses.
How Do I Create an XRechnung or ZUGFeRD Formatted Invoice For the German Federal Government?
It is possible to manually create your invoice via the Federal Government’s ZRE submission portal, which they will format for you automatically.
To do so, you should sign up to the portal, fill out the ZRE web form, and complete your invoice for free.
However, this is long, tedious work. Especially when you have more than just a few invoices to process.
To convert your existing invoices quickly and easily you can use invoicing solution software, such as Invoice-Portal.
From software like Invoice-Portal, you can create, convert, and send (via email, PEPPOL, etc) all of your invoices from within the portal itself.
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ZRE Portal: How to Send Invoices to Germany Federal Government
You can manually send invoices to the Federal Government via the ZRE submission portal.
But this method can be time-consuming. You are required to enter all of your invoices’ data manually and in separate, individual invoices.
To save time (and, therefore, money) you can instead use an e-invoicing solution, such as the Invoice-Portal.
Using Invoice-Portal, you can automatically convert invoices into the correct formats and send them to clients – including the German Federal Government – from within the software.