The requirement applies throughout the EU – the Nordic countries have come a long way
The requirement for a common standard for invoices comes from the EU and should be introduced across the European Union. The reasons are primarily economic, but also environmental considerations and the authorities' responsibility to drive the digital development have been recorded.
Denmark has come the furthest
Denmark is the Nordic country that has come furthest in the digital transition. More than 99 percent of the invoices to the public sector have been digital for several years. Denmark legislated on e-invoicing already in 2005. The new EU directive therefore primarily means that the invoice formats are adapted to the new standard.
Finland has had mandatory e-invoicing since 2010 and the state currently has a billing rate of over 80 percent.
Norway is also at the forefront of the digitization process and has adopted the European standard, even if it is not in the EU. The Norwegian law came into force in 2011.
April 1, 2019, it is Sweden's turn. Then the law that follows the EU directive must be introduced. For a seven-year period, society is expected to save SEK 1.4 billion.
Sweden left behind
The number of companies that supply goods and services to the Swedish public sector is estimated at just over 250,000 companies.
Digital invoicing is currently 67 percent in state-owned enterprises. About 30 of Sweden's 200 government agencies have an e-invoicing rate of less than 20 percent.
But there are exceptions, some authorities are considerably farther ahead than others, says Anderz Petersson, project manager at DIGG, the Authority for digital administration, who has been given the task from the Swedish government to ensure that the new law is implemented and followed.
He mentions the Swedish Economic Crime Authority as an example of authority that already uses e-invoice to over 80 percent.
– One authority that has improved a lot is the Swedish Public Employment Service. They have affected their key ratios a lot in just six months when it comes to e-commerce work, says Anderz Petersson.
Tougher than the directive
EU directives are implemented through laws in each EU country and can therefore have a slightly different design. Both the Swedish and the Danish government have chosen tougher writings than the directive on two points.
First, there is no lower amount limit, the law covers all transactions to and from authorities. This is to increase the effect of the conversion.
Secondly, not only the authorities are required to receive e-invoices, but the suppliers are also required to issue them. A writing that puts extra pressure on the suppliers.
In Finland, suppliers are not forced to send e-invoices to the public sector - but the public sector must be able to receive them, in accordance with the EU directive. Finland, on the other hand, is about to legislate the right to demand e-invoicing from one private trader to another.
Several formats possible
In Sweden, all state recipients of invoices must be reachable in PEPPOL since November 1, 2018, according to regulations from DIGG. PEPPOL is a standardized format for public e-commerce within the EU. For suppliers, there are more possible formats, as long as they adhere to the new common EU standard.
Norway has also adopted PEPPOL as the reception principle for the public sector. Companies are now also using it in-between companies. DIGG predicts that it is a possible scenario even in Sweden that the format used by the authorities spreads to the private sector.