What is an electronic invoice?

The law of 13 December 2021 amending the law of 16 May 2019 on electronic invoicing in public procurement and concession contracts came into force on 18 December 2021, in order to make the use of electronic invoicing mandatory in public procurement. The law defines an electronic invoice as: "an invoice that has been issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic form that allows its automatic and electronic processing, any equivalent request for payment that meets those same conditions or any document or message that modifies the original invoice and refers to it in a specific and unambiguous manner that meets those same conditions".

Legal framework for electronic invoicing in public procurement

The law of 13 December 2021 amending the law of 16 May 2019 on electronic invoicing in public procurement and concession contracts in order to make the use of electronic invoicing mandatory in public procurement and concession contracts.

The Chamber of Commerce fully supports the initiative behind this law, as the use of electronic invoicing can ultimately be a source of administrative simplification, allowing the invoicing procedure to be accelerated and simplified, while reducing costs for businesses.

Impacts for companies

The law intends to make it compulsory for economic operators to issue electronic invoices in the context of public procurement or concession contracts (B2G), with a view to encouraging companies to rapidly acquire the necessary means to issue, transmit and eventually receive electronic invoices.

Important dates to remember

The law provides for a staggered entry into force between 18 May 2022 and 18 March 2023, depending on the size of the companies concerned:

  • to large economic operators, 5 months after the entry into force of the law, i.e. 18 May 2022
  • to medium-sized economic operators, 10 months after the entry into force, i.e. 18 October 2022;
  • small and newly established economic operators, 15 months after entry into force, i.e. 18 March 2023.

Beyond this regulatory framework, the transition to electronic invoicing is an important lever for transformation and profitability for all sectors and particularly for business-to-business (B2B) exchanges.

Why use electronic invoicing?

The use of electronic invoicing allows for significant savings and efficiency gains, including the following advantages :

  • speed of processing,
  • significant reduction in processing costs,
  • better traceability of invoices,
  • reduction in disputes,
  • faster payment times,
  • easier consultation and archiving,
  • easier accounting,
  • enhanced data security.

As an obligation for the B2G-area (Business to Government), the switch to electronic invoicing is strongly recommended for all companies that are not yet affected by this law. Indeed, any company will have an interest in going digital and thus gradually standardizing electronic invoicing. This transition will allow companies to benefit from a considerable competitive advantage.

How to use electronic invoicing?

The use of a single delivery network : The common delivery network for all contracting entities for the automated receipt of electronic invoices will be PEPPOL. PEPPOL, for Pan European Public Procurement OnLine, is an invoice exchange network managed since 2012 by the international non-profit association OpenPEPPOL under Belgian law and used by many countries.

Companies will thus have to :

  • use this "delivery network" designated by Grand-Ducal regulation for the transmission of electronic invoices,
  • comply with the European standard.

The European standard EN 16931 1 2017 +A 1 2019 (Edition 11 2019) defines the essential information elements that an electronic invoice must contain in order to comply with legislation, including tax legislation, and to guarantee inter-sectoral, national and cross-border interoperability.

The second part CEN/TS 16931 2:2017 (Edition 06/2017) lists the approved syntaxes / languages:

  • XML UBL (Universal Business Language) defined in ISO/IEC 19845:2015 and maintained by the non-profit organisation OASIS Open;
  • XML UN/CEFACT CII (Cross Industry Invoice) developed by UN/CEFACT, as specified in XML Schemas 16B (SCRDM - CII).

An economic operator has several options to make itself capable of issuing and transmitting compliant electronic invoices via Peppol:

  • renting a Peppol access point from one of the many specialised service providers already active in the field
  • setting up an own Peppol access point, an approach that probably only makes sense for organisations of a certain size that have their own experienced and well-resourced IT department
  • use one of the invoicing or accounting (ERP) software packages, which are increasingly numerous given the growing success of Peppol, and which allow by default the sending of compliant invoices via Peppol.

In order to meet the needs of economic operators who do not yet have the capacity to issue and transmit electronic invoices automatically via Peppol, alternative non-automated technical solutions which only allow the manual and individual issue and transmission of electronic invoices will be made available to economic operators before the obligation to invoice electronically applies to the first economic operators.

These alternative solutions will be of two types :

  • an online form allowing the issuing and transmission of a compliant electronic invoice by manually entering in the fields of the form the constituent elements of the invoice and submitting the completed form
  • an online form enabling the issuing and transmission of a compliant electronic invoice by downloading an already compliant electronic invoice and submitting it via the duly completed form. (See Ministry (french) text)

Support for electronic invoicing

It is clear that a large number of companies are not aware of this obligation. The Chamber of Commerce is offering information sessions to raise awareness and to give them the opportunity to exchange views with experts in the field.

In addition to these free webinars, the Chamber of Commerce will publish a practical guide containing all the useful information concerning electronic invoicing: presentation of the regulatory framework, explanation of electronic invoicing, advantages, testimonies, introduction of the different types of support and a lot of practical information. The Chamber of Commerce will support Luxembourg companies in this digital transition so that it becomes an opportunity to develop services and reduce costs.

Tailor-made support will be offered to implement an electronic invoicing solution in the company with the Fit 4 Digital Packages programme. This support will enable the company to benefit from a subsidy of 5,000 euros delivered by the General Directorate for the Middle Classes of the Ministry of the Economy in collaboration with Luxinnovation and the House of Entrepreneurship.

To be eligible for this support, a company must meet the following cumulative criteria

  • have its registered office in Luxembourg
  • have a maximum of 50 employees
  • have an authorisation of establishment granted by the Direction générale des Classes moyennes
  • not carry out an activity excluded from state aid, as referred to in the regulations

The Chamber of Commerce will also inform companies about the new opportunities for value-added services to be developed in the context of electronic invoicing.

Who can help me?

  • House of Entrepreneurship

The House of Entrepreneurship brings together all the stakeholders involved in the value chain of business creation in Luxembourg and offers a range of services to businesses throughout their life cycle (information on business creation, development and transfer, digitalisation, financing and networking). Contact us by e-mail at digital@houseofentrepreneurship.lu or by phone at +352 42 39 39 840.

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