Invoice Formats

Background Information

The Directive 2014/55/EU of April 2014 aims to promote digitisation in the public sector and thus simplify and accelerate processes. Estimates assume a possible cost saving of 60 to 80%.

The Directive requires all contracting authorities to receive and process electronic invoices. The Federal E-Invoicing Act passed in April 2017 implements these requirements in national law. For all public institutions of federal states and municipalities, the deadline for the introduction of e-invoicing is April 2020 at the latest. For federal authorities, the e-invoicing law has been in force since November 2018.

From November 2020, companies will also be required to submit invoices to the federal authorities electronically in accordance with certain format requirements (e.g. XRechnung). More precisely, this means that invoice issuers must issue and transmit invoices electronically.

To this end, the Federal Government, together with some of the Federal States, is developing an incoming invoice platform that can be used to transmit incoming invoices simply and efficiently to the advertised administrative authority.

Implementation Deadlines


The implementation deadline for receiving electronic standard XRechnung is:

  • the 18.04.2019 for the supreme federal authorities and the constitutional bodies of the Federation.
  • the 18.04.2020 for all other federal authorities, i.e. sub-central contracting authorities, the Federal States and local authorities.



From 27.11.2020 according to the Federal E-Invoicing Ordinance (ERechV), all suppliers and service providers of public administrations must submit their invoices electronically.

Billing Formats

What is an XRechnung?

An eInvoice within the meaning of EU Directive 2014/55/EU must meet certain requirements in terms of structure and content. XRechnung is a structured, standardised data record in XML format that can be automatically sent and processed electronically. The XML format is exclusively machine-readable.

Other digital formats such as e-mails, pure PDF formats or scanned invoices do not meet the requirements because they lack standardisation and structure.

What is ZUGFeRD 2.0?

ZUGfeRD is a hybrid format. It consists of the mandatory machine-readable part, which contains all required information in line with the EU directive, and an additional image or PDF file that can be read by people

However, it is still unclear whether all federal states will accept the hybrid format.


PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement OnLine) is an internationally elaborated solution with the aim of standardising cross-border, electronically supported public procurement procedures (Public eProcurement) within the European Union.

Peppol BIS (Business Interoperability Specifications) Billing 3.0 is a compliant (CIUS) implementation of the European standard for electronic invoicing, EN 16931.

Country specific versions

The country-specific requirements and their implementation may differ between EU Member States, but they usually use UBL (Universal Business Language) in different versions with adaptations, as well as PEPPOL specifications and access points for verification and transport. The main advantage of UBL is that business documents can be standardised for different purposes. UBL is a flexible, international standard that supports many business requirements, so these business documents can be exchanged across national borders.

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