XRechnung or ZUGFeRD? The Coming Standard for Electronic Invoicing with Public Administration

Are you planning on sending invoices to or receiving invoices from public administration? If so, then things are going to get exciting for you, beginning in November 2018.

The new standard is called XRechnung

The new standard, called XRechnung, will come in three stages. These provisions will initially be binding for all German Federal Ministries and constitutional bodies as of November 27, 2018. One year later, that is beginning November 27, 2019, XRechnung will be mandatory for all other government agencies. An obligation for the use or acceptance of electronic invoices will then go into effect one year later on November 27, 2020 11 Para. 3 of the Verordnung über die elektronische Rechnungsstellung im öffentlichen Auftragswesen des Bundes [Regulation of electronic invoicing in public procurement of the Federal Republic] , in short, the e-invoicing regulation).

The ZUGFeRD 2.0 standard has different profiles. With the EN 16931 profile, ZUGFeRD-2.0 is compatible with the requirements of European standard 16931.


The e-invoicing law dated April 4l, 2017 (German Federal Gazette. I p. 770) implemented the EU Directive 2014/55/EU dated April 16, 2014 on electronic invoicing in public procurement (Official Journal. L 133 dated May 6, 2014, p. 1 (e-invoicing directive) with incorporation of the new § 4a EGovG (E-Government Law) in German law. Based on § 4a Para.3 EgovG, the German Federal Government passed the e-invoicing regulation for the organization of electronic invoice traffic on September 6, 2017.

XRechnung versus ZUGFeRD 1.0

Unfortunately, Version 1.0 of the ZugFERD format does not meet the requirements of the EU standard from which the new standard XRechnung originates. That much can be said at this point. The ZUGFeRD 2.0 format will be the coming candidate, one which will also meet these requirements – but more on that in a moment.

Requirements of the new XRechnung standard

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has made it their job to standardize the XRechnung standard. On June 28, 2017, CEN published the Standard for Electronic Invoicing, developed by the Technical Committee “CEN/TC 434 – Electronic Invoicing “, in two parts:

  • Part 1 (EN 16931-1:2017 (WI=00434001) ): Semantic data model for the core elements of an electronic invoice
  • Part 2 (CEN/TS 16931-2:2017 (WI=00434002)): List of the syntaxes which meet EN 16931-1

XRechnung is based on this. To put it very briefly, XRechnung provides an application specification for the semantic data model (see above). This will be the coming national standard in public administration. The major advantage is that XRechnung is both fully documented and product and manufacturer neutral. It is also available to everyone at no cost. The German Coordination Body for IT Standards (KoSIT) brought this format into being, published in June 2017 by the IT Planning Council. KoSIT is also responsible for the further development of the standard. That means the XRechnung is future-proof.

ZUGFeRD-2.0 – compatible with EU standard 16931

The ZUGFeRD 2.0 Standard has a variety of profiles. With the profile EN 16931 – the name alludes to it–ZUGFeRD 2.0 is compatible with the requirements of the European standard 16931. Therefore, there is nothing preventing its use in an exchange of invoices with European governmental bodies in accordance with EU Directive 2014/55/EU. We are therefore going to implement this standard in our products as well.

Summary: What does this mean for companies in the private sector?

Essentially, the e-invoice regulation will bring only advantages to companies. On the one hand, government bodies will be required to accept electronic invoices; on the other, it will result in a legally certified claim by the invoicing party. This will happen no later than November 2020, and provided the invoice has all the relevant data in the required structured form. This might also be the trigger which leads to the blanket distribution of electronic invoicing in the B2B field.

Detailed information on XRechnung can also be found as a PDF file on the following website.

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