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Electronic invoice
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Dec 6, 2015

A potential client has asked me to provide an e-invoice for the job. I've never done this. Usually I just issue a PDF invoice, attached to an email.

I would welcome any info you can give me about e-invoicing.


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I suspect they just mean a PDF invoice, attached to an email. Dec 6, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

A potential client has asked me to provide an e-invoice for the job. I've never done this. Usually I just issue a PDF invoice, attached to an email.

I would welcome any info you can give me about e-invoicing.


Michael


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Digital signature? Dec 6, 2015

I wonder if they really mean e-invoicing, as explained on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-invoicing, or just some type of digital signature, as explained on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signature .

E-invoicing requires a complete and complex IT setup, and I don't see how a self-employed person can even begin to get involved in such complexities.

A true digital signature also requires a complex IT setup, and although, according to the EU's Electronic Signature Directive https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Signatures_Directive of 1993, digital signatures have the same, legal effect as classic signatures, the practical implementation is lagging badly behind. In other words: there are plenty of good intentions, but it doesn’t work for people like you and me.

I occasionally use http://skysignature.com/ to apply a 'faux' digital signature to invoices when requested, but it isn't a genuine, authenticated signature system. It may satisfy your client's requirements, though. Or it may not, and in that case, you'd have to ask what exactly they want.

Skysignature is free up to a certain number of signatures.

Beware, if you do use it, that if you use its facility to e-mail the signed invoice directly, some e-mail systems may reject these e-mails because they pretend to come from your e-mail address but are sent by skysignature. That mismatch triggers a spam filter on some e-mail servers. If that is a problem with your client, you can download the signed invoice and e-mail it yourself while giving your client a link to the signed version online.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Thomas Dec 6, 2015

Thanks Thomas - this is useful (and scary!)

My prospective client says it will be required because I would be paid via a university payments system.

Prima facie, it looks as though I'll have to refuse the job!


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
That's a bit hasty Dec 6, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

Thanks Thomas - this is useful (and scary!)

My prospective client says it will be required because I would be paid via a university payments system.

Prima facie, it looks as though I'll have to refuse the job!



Why refuse the job, seeing as how you don't even know what they mean yet?

Michael

@Thomas: Not sure how valid they are yet, but my clients all allow me to place a digital signature (on a PDF) with Adobe Acrobat.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:13 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Waiting Dec 6, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

Thanks Thomas - this is useful (and scary!)

My prospective client says it will be required because I would be paid via a university payments system.

Prima facie, it looks as though I'll have to refuse the job!



Why refuse the job, seeing as how you don't even know what they mean yet?

Michael

@Thomas: Not sure how valid they are yet, but my clients all allow me to place a digital signature (on a PDF) with Adobe Acrobat.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:13 GMT]


I'm waiting to see the text. In the meantime I'm looking for info about e-invoicing.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Scary, yes Dec 6, 2015

Looks like you'll have to talk to them to find out if it's possible without setting up your own data centre with a core staff of ten IT and e-commerce specialists.

I can imagine you can 'rent' such services from third-party providers, but I can also imagine that they could come with a not insignificant price tag.

If it's too complicated, it looks like a showstopper.

I looked into the Danish NemID system for digital signatures a while ago, but they have no offer that makes it possible to sign various documents not related to public services or banking, or possibly large businesses' documents. In Denmark, all login to public services and online banking passes through that system, which genuinely authenticates digital signatures for banking transactions and exchange with public services. But it's still not an e-invoicing system.


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
digital signature in Adobe Acrobat XI Pro Dec 6, 2015

digital-signature-in-Adobe-Acrobat-1.pngdigital-signature-in-Adobe-Acrobat-2.png

 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
As valid as your client considers it to be Dec 6, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:

@Thomas: Not sure how valid they are yet, but my clients all allow me to place a digital signature (on a PDF) with Adobe Acrobat.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:13 GMT]


Validity, in the case of digital signatures, is in the eyes of the beholder.

If you client accepts it, it's as valid is it needs to be.

But it is not authenticated in the sense that nobody has verified that you, and not someone else, actually provided that signature. And I'm pretty sure it is not considered a signature with legal validity in the sense of that EU Directive. This means you could not force them to accept it as equal to a classic signature, but if they accept it, end of story. I'm sure we could entertain a large crowd of solicitors for a long time with this subject.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Italy Dec 6, 2015

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

Michael Beijer wrote:

@Thomas: Not sure how valid they are yet, but my clients all allow me to place a digital signature (on a PDF) with Adobe Acrobat.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:13 GMT]


Validity, in the case of digital signatures, is in the eyes of the beholder.

If you client accepts it, it's as valid is it needs to be.

But it is not authenticated in the sense that nobody has verified that you, and not someone else, actually provided that signature. And I'm pretty sure it is not considered a signature with legal validity in the sense of that EU Directive. This means you could not force them to accept it as equal to a classic signature, but if they accept it, end of story. I'm sure we could entertain a large crowd of solicitors for a long time with this subject.


Thomas - Thanks for making me smile.

I should add that my prospective client, and the university, are in Italy, which means that no matter how simple a thing may be, it will prove to be an infinitely long Kafka-esque adventure with no ultimate solution. Invoicing for this job would certainly be harder work, and would take longer, than the work itself.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Italy Dec 6, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

I should add that my prospective client, and the university, are in Italy, which means that no matter how simple a thing may be, it will prove to be an infinitely long Kafka-esque adventure with no ultimate solution. Invoicing for this job would certainly be harder work, and would take longer, than the work itself.


Oh jeez! In Italy! The French bureaucracy for, over-taxation of, and hostile attitude to the self-employed nearly drove me insane until I quit the country in disgust and desperation two years ago, and Italy is even worse, according to what I've heard. Just look at this short article to get an idea of the chaos that reigns in France for the self-employed: http://www.french-property.com/news/french_business/autoentrepreneur_cipav_problems/ . It is not an exaggeration or an exception; everything else is similar. Just getting a DSL connection that isn't randomly cut off for random durations between one hour and one month is impossible in France. Here in Germany, I haven't had one single DSL problem for the two years I've been here.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Italians told you it is mandatory to show up in person to create your e-invoicing account, and then mandatory to present yourself in person every time you have to send an invoice.


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
happy I'm in the UK Dec 6, 2015

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

I should add that my prospective client, and the university, are in Italy, which means that no matter how simple a thing may be, it will prove to be an infinitely long Kafka-esque adventure with no ultimate solution. Invoicing for this job would certainly be harder work, and would take longer, than the work itself.


Oh jeez! In Italy! The French bureaucracy for, over-taxation of, and hostile attitude to the self-employed nearly drove me insane until I quit the country in disgust and desperation two years ago, and Italy is even worse, according to what I've heard. Just look at this short article to get an idea of the chaos that reigns in France for the self-employed: http://www.french-property.com/news/french_business/autoentrepreneur_cipav_problems/ . It is not an exaggeration or an exception; everything else is similar. Just getting a DSL connection that isn't randomly cut off for random durations between one hour and one month is impossible in France. Here in Germany, I haven't had one single DSL problem for the two years I've been here.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Italians told you it is mandatory to show up in person to create your e-invoicing account, and then mandatory to present yourself in person every time you have to send an invoice.


I am very happy I live in the UK in that regard: zero hassle with tax/invoicing matters, low taxes and no VAT registration required.


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Indeed. Dec 6, 2015

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

Michael Beijer wrote:

@Thomas: Not sure how valid they are yet, but my clients all allow me to place a digital signature (on a PDF) with Adobe Acrobat.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:13 GMT]


Validity, in the case of digital signatures, is in the eyes of the beholder.

If you client accepts it, it's as valid is it needs to be.

But it is not authenticated in the sense that nobody has verified that you, and not someone else, actually provided that signature. And I'm pretty sure it is not considered a signature with legal validity in the sense of that EU Directive. This means you could not force them to accept it as equal to a classic signature, but if they accept it, end of story. I'm sure we could entertain a large crowd of solicitors for a long time with this subject.


Since my clients accept it, it's valid, for my purposes. Which is all I really care about.

If I was asked to do anything more, I'd probably also refuse. Just a big waste of time.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Me too Dec 6, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:

I am very happy I live in the UK in that regard: zero hassle with tax/invoicing matters, low taxes and no VAT registration required.


Me too- after more than 20 years in Italy struggling with the bureacracy of "God's own country" or what Goethe described as "A paradise inhabited by devils", regretfully I moved back to the UK for purely administrative reasons. But I miss it....the wind in the maize....the church bells in Via Maggio in Florence early on a Sunday morning in May...but I don't miss my accountant and the entire afternoons I would have to spend at his office...

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:52 GMT]


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
PDF invoices Dec 6, 2015

Thus far, I haven't been faced with the task of uploading an e-invoice with signature.

Whenever it is required that I sign a document (invoive, emailed "quick" copy of NDA's, etc.) I sign the document with my authentic signature. This is quite a simple process. I've signed a blank sheet of paper, then scanned my signature and saved it in a Word file. Of course not on my computer. Whenever my real signature is required, I just insert it at the bottom of the document and secure it in a way that makes it impossible to copy.

All electronic signature systems I've tried thus far are unable to provide an even close to some authenticity of my reals/personal signature.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 15:55 GMT]


 
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