Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Paper Invoices for Germany?
Thread poster: Hilary Davies Shelby

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 15:04
German to English
Apr 16, 2007

Hello there!

I usually send my invoices via email, but I keep running into German clients who insist on paper ones. I was told when I started by various other colleagues that email invoices were sufficient, but some companies still insist on their paper ones. I know (or believe) that Austria still requires paper invoices, but I thought Germany didn't. Could any Germany-based agencies/anyone in the know confirm or deny this? I'd be very grateful!

Thanks very much,

Hilary Davies


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:04
English to German
+ ...
Depends Apr 16, 2007

Hi Hilary,
Electronic invoices are acceptable under German tax law if they are submitted using a publicly-recognised authentication process.

In practice, this means that paper invoices are required most of the time.

Best regards,
Ralf


Direct link Reply with quote
 

megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience... Apr 16, 2007

... is the same as yours, even though some of them do accept electronic invoices if you just insist a little bit more... and your invoices can be printed on their side easily and with good results (PDF, A4, no data missing...).

Ruth @ MW

[Edited at 2007-04-16 15:03]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dr. Andrew Frankland  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I've never had problems... Apr 16, 2007

...with electronic invoices. I send a PDF file by email and my client prints it out (I assume) when it arrives. Other than having to include more and more info recently I've never had any problems.

Andy


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 15:04
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
"Publicly-recognised authentication process"? Apr 16, 2007

Ralf Lemster wrote:

if they are submitted using a publicly-recognised authentication process.



Hello Ralf, many thanks for your reply. Please could you explain what you mean by a "publicly-recognised authentication process"?

Thanks a lot!

Hilary.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:04
English to German
+ ...
Insisting vs. legal requirements Apr 16, 2007

Ruth,

megane_wang wrote:

... is the same as yours, even though some of them accept electronic invoices if you just insist a little bit more.

Ruth @ MW

With all due respect, this has nothing to do with insisting. May I suggest reading section 14 (3) of the German Value Added Tax Act, where the requirements for electronic transmission of invoices is regulated.

Best regards,
Ralf


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:04
English to German
+ ...
Quoting section 14 of the German UStG Apr 16, 2007

Hi again, Hilary,

Hello Ralf, many thanks for your reply. Please could you explain what you mean by a "publicly-recognised authentication process"?


Allow me to quote the relevant legal texts in German, as I don't have the time to translate them right now.

Here are the relevant parts of section 14 of the UStG:


(1) Rechnung ist jedes Dokument, mit dem über eine Lieferung oder sonstige Leistung abgerechnet wird, gleichgültig, wie dieses Dokument im Geschäftsverkehr bezeichnet wird. Rechnungen sind auf Papier oder vorbehaltlich der Zustimmung des Empfängers auf elektronischem Weg zu übermitteln.

...

(3) Bei einer auf elektronischem Weg übermittelten Rechnung müssen die Echtheit der Herkunft und die Unversehrtheit des Inhalts gewährleistet sein durch

1. eine qualifizierte elektronische Signatur oder eine qualifizierte elektronische Signatur mit Anbieter-Akkreditierung nach dem Signaturgesetz vom 16. Mai 2001 (BGBl. I S. 876), das durch Artikel 2 des Gesetzes vom 16. Mai 2001 (BGBl. I S. 876) geändert worden ist, in der jeweils geltenden Fassung, oder

2. elektronischen Datenaustausch (EDI) nach Artikel 2 der Empfehlung 94/820/EG der Kommission vom 19. Oktober 1994 über die rechtlichen Aspekte des elektronischen Datenaustausches (ABl. EG Nr. L 338 S. 98), wenn in der Vereinbarung über diesen Datenaustausch der Einsatz von Verfahren vorgesehen ist, die die Echtheit der Herkunft und die Unversehrtheit der Daten gewährleisten, und zusätzlich eine zusammenfassende Rechnung auf Papier oder unter den Voraussetzungen der Nummer 1 auf elektronischem Weg übermittelt wird.


Of course electronic invoices are being accepted in practice; this may be due to buyers being simply unaware of the legal requirements, or they are prepared to take the risk of having to obtain paper invoices in the event of a later tax audit.

HTH, Ralf


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:04
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Of course! Apr 16, 2007

Ralf Lemster wrote:
Of course electronic invoices are being accepted in practice; this may be due to buyers being simply unaware of the legal requirements, or they are prepared to take the risk of having to obtain paper invoices in the event of a later tax audit.


A document having been sent via eMail and then printed on paper is a document on paper.
If the recipient accepts it and use it to pay the supplier, all legal requirements for a legal business transaction are fulfilled and no legal rest is left.

If I send a document by:

By eMail
By courier
By post
By air freight
By elephant
By errand boy

is immatrial

These regulations are, we've been told, a nullity (if both parties agree).

Mats

[Edited at 2007-04-16 15:38]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:04
German to English
+ ...
Paper Invoices for Germany? Apr 16, 2007

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Of course electronic invoices are being accepted in practice; this may be due to buyers being simply unaware of the legal requirements, or they are prepared to take the risk of having to obtain paper invoices in the event of a later tax audit.


Technically and legally you are right of course, Ralf. It is also worth noting that under the legislation, electronic invoicing requires the recipient's consent, so there are at least two reasons why customers should not be pressured into accepting it.

However, the scenario you describe of "having to obtain paper invoices in the event of a later tax audit" is not very realistic. An electronic invoice, whether "legitimate" or not, will almost certainly be printed out and presented to the auditors in paper form anyway. In this form, the invoice as seen by the auditors is not any different to a) a conventional paper invoice or b) a "legitimate" electronic invoice that has been printed out. (Incidentally, I receive my telephone bills as electronic invoices and print them out, and I have been audited since I have been doing so, and I was not asked to produce the electronic copies - though obviously this hardly proves anything since even the audit only involves random checking).

The only interest the tax authorities can have is that of establishing whether the payer's and payee's invoices correspond to each other and to the amount actually paid. If they do, no one has an interest in proving that the invoice is formally invalid. This would be like the tax authorities hunting for invoices with typing errors in the recipient's name and then declaring them invalid - a pointless exercise.

Marc


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:04
English to German
+ ...
Theory and practice Apr 16, 2007

Thanks, Marc,

Technically and legally you are right of course, Ralf. It is also worth noting that under the legislation, electronic invoicing requires the recipient's consent, so there are at least two reasons why customers should not be pressured into accepting it.

Which was my point when I cast some doubt on the "insistence" formula.

However, the scenario you describe of "having to obtain paper invoices in the event of a later tax audit" is not very realistic.

I have witnessed that situation.

An electronic invoice, whether "legitimate" or not, will almost certainly be printed out and presented to the auditors in paper form anyway. In this form, the invoice as seen by the auditors is not any different to a) a conventional paper invoice or b) a "legitimate" electronic invoice that has been printed out.

Without going too much into the details, you will surely be aware that tax auditors have authority to inspect the IT systems of a business they're editing.

(Incidentally, I receive my telephone bills as electronic invoices and print them out, and I have been audited since I have been doing so, and I was not asked to produce the electronic copies - though obviously this hardly proves anything since even the audit only involves random checking).

Deutsche Telekom AG, for instance, uses an authentication system (IIRC, they had some problems with this initially).

The only interest the tax authorities can have is that of establishing whether the payer's and payee's invoices correspond to each other and to the amount actually paid. If they do, no one has an interest in proving that the invoice is formally invalid. This would be like the tax authorities hunting for invoices with typing errors in the recipient's name and then declaring them invalid - a pointless exercise.

Not quite: there may be VAT issues involved, and invoices may be declared non-deductible during a tax audit. (Again, I've been there...).

I agree that this discussion might be theoretical to some extent; what I'm suggesting is that outsourcers may have valid reasons for not accepting electronic invoices.

Best regards,
Ralf


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Catherine Gorton
Local time: 21:04
French to English
+ ...
Ast them and you'll see... Apr 16, 2007

Hi,

I used to live and work in Germany for more than 8 years and found out that in most companies where I worked people just did things in the way they have done before... even if they had been made aware of changes. You may find out if you check with your customers why they refuse the electronic invoices that they are unsure about it being fully legally acceptable... and since it is easier to do as before rather than ask the legal department about it, they just stick with requesting paper invoices.
This doesn't mean of course that everyone in Germany works this way. In fact, in the last company where I was we always used the electronic system for invoices.
Just thought this account of what I experienced would help...
Missing living in Germany, by the way!

Catherine


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Craig Aird, J.D., LL.M.  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:04
German to English
So far no problem Apr 16, 2007

So far I've submitted invoices electronically (pdf file of invoice) without comment from agencies in Germany for which I've done projects. As pointed out, these pdf files may be printed out by the recipient, thereby producing a paper invoice for their files.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:04
German to English
Of course? - not in Germany Apr 16, 2007

Mats Wiman wrote: A document having been sent via eMail and then printed on paper is a document on paper.
If the recipient accepts it and use it to pay the supplier, all legal requirements for a legal business transaction are fulfilled and no legal rest is left.


Not under German law, as I think Ralf has explained in more than sufficient detail.

If I send a document by:

By eMail
By courier
By post
By air freight
By elephant
By errand boy

is immatrial

These regulations are, we've been told, a nullity (if both parties agree).


Not under German law, as I think Ralf has explained in more than sufficient detail.

Again, as Ralf has explained, in practice invoices are often sent as PDFs. If they're then printed and archived at the client side, the tax auditors won't normally be any the wiser. But if the client fails to print the PDF invoice, it's unlikely to be accepted as a business expense in the event of a tax audit.

Robin


Direct link Reply with quote
 
RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:04
German to English
In nutshell.. Apr 16, 2007

Hilary Davies wrote: I usually send my invoices via email, but I keep running into German clients who insist on paper ones.


If they want paper invoices (which you'll no doubt be aware is probably your only legal option), just send them paper invoices.

Robin


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Paper Invoices for Germany?

Advanced search







Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search