As with most other countries across Europe, France has introduced several regulations regarding e-invoicing over the past few years. As we shall cover in this article, however, recent developments indicate France is set to go further than many other countries with regard to making e-invoicing mandatory for all.
Before looking at the upcoming changes, though, let’s first look at the current regulations…
E-invoicing in France – Current status
At present all business-to-government (B2G) transactions in France must be conducted using e-invoicing. Since the start of 2020 all French businesses supplying any public entity must send structured electronic invoices via the national invoicing portal, Chorus Pro.
For those businesses currently lacking the ability to send messages electronically via XML, Chorus Pro also offers businesses the ability to create and send e-invoices after manually entering invoice data using a web portal. Similarly, the status of the invoice and payment can be manually checked via the portal. Whilst this method is time and resource intensive and cannot compete with the efficiency of sending e-invoices directly (particularly via a service provider capable of offering a powerful API connection), it is very helpful for smaller suppliers who do not yet have EDI capability.
What standards are required?
French rules require e-invoices sent via Chorus Pro to adhere to one of the following standards:
- Universal Business Language (UBL) 2.1
- UNCEFACT XML CII 16B (including via Factur-X – a hybrid invoice format that can be both read by humans and processed by machines)
E-invoicing in France at a glance
|Standards||Mandatory?||Platforms||Length of archiving required|
UNCEFACT XML CII 16B (Factur-X according to EN 16931 allowed)
|Yes – for B2G invoicing (soon for B2B invoicing)||Chorus Pro||10 years|
In November 2020 the French Government published amendments to the finance bill for 2021. These set the stage for the following to be made mandatory in the near future:
- B2B e-invoicing for all domestic transactions
- E-reporting on all transactions between domestic companies and individuals/foreign businesses
The deadline for compliance with these new requirements differs for businesses of different sizes. For large businesses compliance is required from 1 January 2023, for medium sized companies the deadline is 2024, whilst smaller companies have until 2025.
No matter how large or small, however, all French businesses will be required to receive e-invoices by 2023, regardless of whether they are also required to be able to issue them by this point.
How can I meet current and upcoming e-invoicing regulations in France?
As with all message exchange via electronic data interchange (EDI), it is possible for in-house teams to handle e-invoicing in accordance with French rules. However, this can be difficult. To do so, internal teams will need to set up the connection and will also be responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly, plus providing necessary support – all of which can be tedious and time-consuming. Whilst using Peppol rather than Web Services or SFTP can simplify the process, this method also has specific requirements, such as a connection to a Peppol Access Point. Further, handling e-invoicing in-house becomes increasingly difficult if your business exchanges many invoices, has a large number of partners or does business in other European countries.
Whilst several years may sound like a long time to prepare for such a change, successfully changing processes integral to your supply chain requires appropriate knowledge and planning. If an efficient solution is to be implemented without disruption to your business, the process must be managed by someone who fully understands what’s required and should not be a last-minute rush. For most businesses, therefore, the most practical, cost-effective and future-proof solution is to enlist the help of an experienced service provider such as ecosio that can handle the transition fully and manage your solution moving forward.
The images below how importing/exporting e-invoices with ecosio works…
The wider picture
Whilst France is the latest European country seeking to extend mandatory e-invoicing and e-reporting across all business transactions (Italy having been the first to do so), they are very unlikely to be the last. Thanks to the numerous benefits of e-invoicing, which include increased speed of payments, a reduction in manual effort and significant operational savings for both sender and receiver, it is expected that a growing number of countries will unveil similar plans in the months and years to come (Poland and Hungary are already well on the way, for example). With this in mind, it makes even more sense to invest in implementing an e-invoicing or wider EDI solution as soon as possible!
Want more information?
At ecosio we are experts in e-invoicing and electronic data interchange. Over the years we have helped thousands of companies to improve key supply chain processes, all while minimising pressure on internal IT teams. With our fully managed solution in-house teams are free to focus on more value-adding activities, safe in the knowledge that message exchange is being handled by experts. We don’t just set up your connections, we make sure they continue to run successfully at all times, working proactively to resolve any issues when they arise.
For more information on how we can help you meet e-invoicing regulations in France and for advice on what practical steps you can take towards automation please contact us. We are always happy to answer questions.
You may also be interested in other articles regarding e-invoicing in…
More information on ecosio’s e-invoicing solution can also be found here.
Are you aware of our free XML/Peppol document validator?
To help those in need of a simple and easy way to validate formats and file types, from CII (Cross-Industry Invoice) to UBL, we’ve created a free online validator. To try it out yourself just click here.