EU regulations concerning invoices

A. Obligation to issue invoice

Every taxable person shall ensure that an invoice, or other document serving as invoice, is issued, either by himself or by a third party, in his name and on his behalf, in respect of goods and services which he has supplied or rendered to another taxable person or to a non-taxable legal person.

Every taxable person shall likewise ensure that an invoice, or other document serving as invoice, is issued, either by himself or by a third party, in his name and on his behalf, in respect of any payment on account made to him before any supplies of goods and in respect of any payment on account made to him by another taxable person or by a non-taxable legal person before the provision of services is completed.

All credit and debit notes are to be treated as invoices and must comply with the same conditions.

Summary invoices may be drawn up, on condition that this is done at least once a month.

Invoices may be drawn up in the name of a taxable person by a third party or by his customer, on condition that there is at the outset an explicit agreement between the two parties, which may be referred to if the tax administration so requests, and on condition that an arrangement exists for the explicit or implicit acceptance of each invoice by the taxable person performing the operation.

B. Requirements invoice

The following statements are required for VAT purposes on invoices issued under point (a):

  • date of issue;
  • a sequential number, based on one or more series, which uniquely identifies the invoice;
  • the VAT number of the taxable person and – in case of a business client within the EU – also the VAT number of the client;
  • full name and address of the taxable person and his customer;
  • description of the goods or services;
  • quantity of goods supplied or, if necessary, of services rendered;
  • date of supply of goods or rendering of services;
  • place of supply of goods or rendering of services;
  • taxable amount per rate;
  • VAT rate;
  • VAT amount payable;
  • total amount payable;
  • where an exemption or zero tax rate is involved, reference to the provision which justifies the exemption;

    and in exceptional cases:
  • where the supply of new means of transport is involved, the particulars specified in Article 28a(2);
  • where the margin scheme is applied, reference to Article 26 or 26a;
  • where the provisions of Article 28c(E)(3) are applied, an explicit reference to that provision as well as the identification number for value added tax purposes under which the taxable person has carried out the intra-Community acquisition and the subsequent supply of goods and the number by which the person to whom this supply is made is identified for value added tax purposes.

In case the invoice is sent to a business client in the EU an additional comment must be made on the invoice:

  • if a service is provided and the 0% rate is applicable mention “Article 44 of the EU VAT Directive; VAT due by the recipient of the service”;
  • if goods are delivered and the 0% rate is applicable mention “VAT exempt, EC Supply Article 138 of the EU VAT Directive”.
  • If goods are exported to a country outside the EU mention on the invoice: “Zero VAT rate is applicable, Export”.

EU Member States shall lay down no conditions as to the signing of invoices.

EU Member States accept that the amounts which appear on the invoice may be indicated in any currency, on condition that the amount of tax to be paid is converted into the national currency.

C. Paper or electronic invoice

Invoices issued pursuant to point (a) may be sent either on paper or, subject to the notification of the customer in advance of the transaction, by electronic means.

The authenticity of the origin and integrity of the contents of invoices sent by electronic means must be guaranteed by means of an advanced electronic signature within the meaning of Article 2(2) of Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.

D. Storage of invoices

Every taxable person shall ensure the storage of the invoices issued by himself or by a third party, in his name and on his behalf, along with that of all the invoices which he has received.

The Member States shall determine the period for which taxable persons carrying out operations on their territories are subject to this obligation to store, and shall inform the Commission thereof.

Storage may be carried out at any place and on any medium, on the sole condition that the taxable person can access all the information stored at any time and without delay and that the integrity and readability of the data is guaranteed throughout the storage period. Every invoice transmitted by electronic means shall also be stored, together with its advanced electronic signature, by electronic means.

E. Electronic invoice

For the purposes of points (c) and (d), transmission and storage of invoices “by electronic means” shall mean transmission and storage using electronic equipment for processing (including digital compression) and storage of data, and employing wires, radio transmission, optical technologies or other electromagnetic means.

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