Electronic invoicing is the exchange of an electronic invoice document between a supplier and a buyer. An electronic invoice (e-Invoice) is an invoice that has been issued, transmitted, and received in a structured data format which allows for its automatic and electronic processing.
A structured electronic invoice contains data from the supplier in a machine-readable format, which can be automatically imported into the buyer’s Finance or Enterprise Resource Planning system without requiring manual entering.
Let us start by comparing what an e-invoice is compared to a paper Invoice
When comparing e-Invoices to paper invoices it is useful to note that paper invoices have three common characteristics. Paper invoices:
- contain data details such as amounts, descriptions and quantities.
- render that data in a visual format, on printed paper, which can be manually read.
- have a physical form that allows them to be manually handled and exchanged.
Digital images, PDF and other visual digital forms of invoices remove the physical element and allow the invoices to be handled and archived in a more efficient way than paper. However, they still require the invoice to be manually viewed and their data to be manually read and entered to the buyers Finance or Enterprise Resource Planning system
E-invoices contain the data in a structured form and can be automatically imported into Finance or Enterprise Resource Planning system. They do not include a visual presentation of the invoice data although they can be temporarily rendered during processing or transposed into visual formats. For e-invoice, the visual format is secondary and the objective is automation, not to view the invoice, except in irregular cases.
A visualised, human-readable version of the invoice may be created for reading purposes and may flow within the structured message, but it is not considered part of the invoice
e-Invoices are not:
- Unstructured invoice data issued in PDF or Word formats.
- Images of invoices such as JPG or TIFF.
- Unstructured HTML invoices on a web page or in an email.
- OCR (Scanned paper invoices).
- Paper invoices sent, like images, via fax machines.
The use of e-Invoices requires two key functions:
- The e-Invoice needs to be created with the correct structure.
- The e-Invoice needs to be transferred from the seller’s system
to the buyer’s system.
The European standard on e-Invoicing, EN16931, defines the structure of an e-Invoice and assorted options for transmitting the invoice.
Coliance via our partner solutions and services provide ways to produce and manage E-invoices. For further details visit