An electronic or electronic invoice is an invoicing system in which invoices generated by one software can be read by any other software, eliminating the need to enter fresh data and errors.
Simply put, it is an invoice generated using a standardised format in which electronic invoice data can be transferred to others, thus ensuring data interoperability.
An electronic invoice may include the various technologies by which the invoice is presented.
An electronic invoice can be defined as a structured data set that is sent as an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) message.
In response to the European Directive 2014/55/EU German legislation defines an electronic invoice in the Act to promote electronic government (E-Government Act - EgovG) as follows:
An invoice is electronic if:
1. it is issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic format and
2. the format enables the invoice to be processed automatically and electronically.
§4a Para.2 German EGovG
The simple sending of invoices as PDF files does not meet these requirements, as the recipients cannot automatically process such PDF files. Instead, recipients expect electronic invoices to be in a structured format that can be understood automatically.