is paper proposes a solution for secure, automated electronic invoicing that uses intelligent
PDF (ISO 32000) and Adobe® LiveCycle® ES (Enterprise Suite) server technologies. e
eInvoicing process, as developed by the CEN/ISSS Workshop on Compliance of eInvoices
has been used as a foundation and is compliant with respective European Union (EU) directives
and national value added tax (VAT) laws.
The importance of eInvoicing
As the worlds economies globalize, the pace of innovation accelerates, and the use of
electronic business processes grows, companies and policy makers are pressured to nd
new ways to remain competitive and to provide better customer service to end users and
constituents. Automation and simplication of business-to-business transactions through
the adoption of eInvoicing standards is critical for faster and more accurate processing,
reduced costs, greater business agility, and processes that meet compliance with tax and
other regulations. Automation also makes common tax verication activities less intrusive
and disruptive to core business activities.
eInvoicing oers signicant advantages over paper-based processes. Processing invoices
electronically may be as simple as sending and receiving invoices digitally, or as sophisticated
as delivering straight-through processing that eliminates the need for manual intervention
in common tasks. Suppliers avoid the costs of paper printouts, enveloping, and postage.
Faster transmission of the invoice and automated processing speed up account settlement.
Automated processes reduce opportunities for human errors that can have serious customer,
partner, or tax implications. By streamlining trade activities, eInvoicing fosters innovation,
competitiveness, and growth. e maintenance of electronic trade data in electronic formats
can streamline business reporting, electronic ling, and compliance-related tasks.
The European Union and eInvoicing
e EU faces unique challenges as it seeks to harmonise regulations for more than 25 member
states, facilitating innovation and productivity, trade, and growth. Central to the ow of
commerce within and between member states are paper-based invoicing processes that are
critical to the VAT system of EU countries. VATs represent 30% of revenue across the EU, and
electronic invoicing has been identied by the European Commission as a vital instrument
for harmonizing and simplifying VAT collection across borders and improving VAT-based
revenues by an estimated €40 billion annually through proper collection.
VAT is passed through the supply chain and ultimately absorbed by the end consumer of a
good or service. e input tax paid by a supplier is reclaimable or deductible from taxes owed.
Invoices are the cornerstone of this system because they establish and demonstrate a buyer’s
right to reduce his or her tax burden by the VAT paid on these purchases.
Applying best practices
for secure, automated
electronic invoicing
Using Intelligent PDF to support compliant
eInvoicing solutions
White Paper
Table of contents
1 The importance of eInvoicing
1 The European Union and
2 eInvoicing process overview
3 Intelligent PDF solutions for
6 Case studies
7 Summary
e economic benets of eInvoicing to businesses within the EU are signicant. More than
30 billion invoices are generated each year. e vast majority of this activity is paper invoices,
with an average cost of €30 per invoice. Early case studies show that a shi to eInvoicing in
EU countries can reduce invoicing costs by as much as 80%. For example, the savings from
the conversion of business-to-business invoicing alone within the EU is conservatively
estimated at €243 million annually.
Paper-based invoicing systems can be slow and error-
prone because as they require signicant human involvement, including handling and media
transfers from computerized systems to paper at the invoice’s source and back to the buyers
electronic systems. Tracking and correcting errors can add further delays and costs to
transactions. e cost of processing an invoice-related complaint typically exceeds €100.
e European Commission has set out a legal framework (Council Directives 2001/115/EC
and 2006/112/EC) for national regulations governing harmonized invoicing with regard to
VAT requirements. is framework is designed to encourage the universal reach of eInvoicing
across countries, sectors, and businesses, as well as inclusiveness, ease of use, and openness
to competition and choice of service providers. e framework stipulates a set of master data
elds that shall be incorporated in all invoices issued throughout the EU for VAT tracking
purposes. Additionally, it encourages the use of electronic invoicing, provided that the
authenticity of the sender and the integrity of content are guaranteed. e framework
recognizes the use of advanced electronic signatures, such as digital signature technology,
as well as other mechanisms based on the use of EDI systems. National tax legislation may
add further stipulations, such as dening retention periods for invoices by either or both
parties or requiring digital signatures.
eInvoicing process overview
Electronic invoicing systems must strive to deliver business eciencies through end-to-end
automations that permit straight-through processing and reduce costly errors and manual
processes while improving productivity. eInvoicing systems must ensure the integrity and
authenticity of data while complying with legal constraints and permitting auditors to conduct
their inquiries unfettered by technical impediments.
Figure 1 shows a typical electronic invoicing process. e following processing steps are
common to any deployment:
1. Prepare datae supplier provides invoice data from online forms or directly from
back-end systems such as order handling or shipping.
Figure 1. Typical electronic invoicing process based on the best practice developed by the CEN/ISSS
Workshop on Compliance of eInvoices.
The promise of eInvoicing is
to enhance economic vitality
by simplifying core business
processes. Software architectures
that enable straight-through
invoice processing utilizing
open standards such as PDF
will play a strategic role in
realizing that promise.
Stefan Engel-Flechsig
Legal counsel and chairman
CEN/ISSS Workshop
on Compliance of eInvoices
CEN eInvoicing process
Supplier prepares
invoice data.
Convert application-
specic invoice data
to XML.
Track invoice data and
manage data integrity and
Intelligent PDF and PDF/A create
an auditable trail that can be
accessed at any time. Buyers and
tax auditors can open intelligent
PDF les using free Adobe Reader.®
1. Prepare data 2. Convert raw data 3. Create intelligent
PDF invoice
4a. Archive invoice
4b. Send invoice
7. Verify and
process data
Data can be audited
Check and reconcile
against all the necessary
les available for invoice
6. Extract XML data
Verify integrity of invoice
and authenticity of sender.
5a. Receive invoice
5b. Archive invoice