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The new regulations around e-invoicing are likely to come as a wake-up call for many businesses across Europe.

Our research found that in France, for instance, as many as 92% of companies still receive paper invoices, which can lead to duplicates and errors with payments. This just shows the need for businesses to kickstart their digitisation efforts (here are some tips on how to get started if you haven’t already).

The benefits of e-invoicing are clear – from increased accuracy to reduced costs and faster payments. So what can CFOs do to stay ahead of the curve and keep their teams compliant?

What is e-invoicing?

E-invoicing has been introduced in order to help recover more than €11 billion in VAT per year by getting rid of paper-based records and instead promoting digital signatures. The hope is that this will reduce (if not eliminate) cases of tax evasion and fraud.

An e-invoice is similar to a paper invoice, except it’s issued, transmitted and received electronically, and it comes in a structured data format. The information shown on an e-invoice varies between countries, but here’s what’s typically needed:

  • Date of issuance 
  • Names and addresses of both parties 
  • VAT registration and information 
  • Services rendered 
  • Amount charged 

It’s worth noting that while e-invoices are a type of digital invoice, simply digitising your invoicing process isn’t enough to be compliant. The EU says that e-invoices must be sent and received in a standardised structured data format that provides for automatic reading of the data into computer systems (like XML). Whereas in the UK, electronic invoices can be processed in a structured format like XML, or unstructured like PDF, according to HMRC.

Where is e-invoicing mandatory?

So far, it seems that countries are adopting different invoice exchange models and processes, which has created a bit of a complex business environment. Now, the EU is taking the necessary steps to unify countries’ varying approaches to make things more transparent and efficient.

That might mean some compliance headaches for many businesses in the short term, but (hopefully) more effective invoicing for everyone in the long term.

Here’s where e-invoicing is currently mandatory in Europe*:

  • UK: Not yet mandatory
  • France: Not yet mandatory
  • Spain: Mandatory for companies whose turnover exceeds €8 million
  • Germany: Mandatory as of 2025
  • Denmark: Mandatory
  • Sweden: Mandatory for companies in the public sector
  • The Netherlands: Mandatory for companies in the public sector

*We're aware that amendments to regulations are still being discussed for each market, and this blog will be updated should these current conditions change.

What can you do to get up to speed?

Digitalisation is a no-brainer – even for countries such as the UK, where e-invoicing is not yet compulsory. 

But how can you get the ball rolling?

1. Create a to-do list

For starters, use a checklist to make sure you’re prepared for when e-invoicing inevitably becomes a legal requirement in your country. There are a fair few steps to consider, so it’s best to get on top of things sooner rather than later.

2. Find an e-invoicing solution 

Next, you’ll want to assess your tools. If you haven’t already implemented an electronic invoicing solution, now’s a good time to look for one that can adapt to your company’s size, location, needs and growth plans. Check out our guide to invoice management (including how Pleo can help you automate your process – no more missed invoices, no more late fees!).

3. Consider who (and what) is involved

Then you’ll want to map your stakeholders and processes. Note down how many customers and suppliers you have, as well as their maturity when it comes to electronic processes. How many invoices do you send and receive per year? What are your current processes for managing outgoing and incoming invoices, and how can you optimise these? It might be worth getting a team together to work on this to recognise the importance of this process.

4. Audit your data

Making sure your data is reliable and high quality is key. Any transactional and accounting data sent to tax authorities must be accurate and complete, unless you want to face potential penalties. You can help with this by reviewing it regularly and automating as much of it as possible. Once you know when e-invoicing is being introduced in your country, you might want to carry out a gap analysis to find out whether you have access to the appropriate data and that the quality is reliable.

5. Make sure teams are compliant

And lastly, remember that digitisation does require human input. Take some time to think about how many departments need to be involved in this process – from finance to HR and legal – and at what point you need their input. When e-invoicing becomes mandatory in your country, this change is likely to affect your entire organisation, so certain teams need to have the right training and resources to ensure they’re compliant.

The companies who’ll come out on top are already preparing to be able to issue and receive e-invoices at scale. So while a date might not yet be set in stone, the sooner you start planning, the better you’ll be able to adapt to changes at short notice. Learn more about how Pleo can help you streamline your invoices journey, saving you time and money.

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