Shorter payment periods and reduced processing costs— enough said for the potential gains of e-invoicing. Although many large companies have taken the plunge and gone digital, the same cannot be said about VSBs and SMEs. To enable all companies to embark down the paperless route, a new format has been created: Factur-X. But what is it? How to use it? Your questions answered.
Aims and principles of the Factur-X standard
Factur-X is a new e-invoicing standard co-developed by France and Germany that generates invoices in the format of a PDF/A3 file. This file contains an image of the invoice and all the information found in the invoice (number and date of invoice, name and contact details of supplier and purchaser, amounts with and without tax...). Goal: standardize electronic invoices in business exchanges so that each company can reap the advantages of e-invoicing as quickly as possible.
This solution combines the advantages of 2 invoicing methods currently used: the structured files generated by EDI solutions and the PDF files often generated by small companies. In terms of compatibility, this format was created in alignment with the requirements set by the European standard on E-Invoicing, defined by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
What does the Factur-X format look like?
Factur-X is a technological solution fitted to companies seeking to automate invoice data processing. In concrete terms, it is a new standard e-invoice format with interoperability that combines the 2 practices already carried out in companies (structured file and PDF image).
The structured invoice and the image of the invoice are integrated into a single PDF environment. As such, we are able to work with a single file that can be used by machines and read by people for verification. That is why we talk about a mixed or hybrid invoice. You can even integrate attachments into the invoice. To make procedures with public authorities simpler, the French Agency for Financial Information Technology (AIFE) is working on integrating Factur-X into the Chorus Pro platform by May 2018.
Creating and using Factur-X files
In order to generate Factur-X standard invoices, you need to use a software to compile the different levels of data into a single file. Certain ERP, as well as SAP, have modules capable of creating Factur-X files; however, this is far from being the norm. The challenge is that the use of the format is yet to be widespread and software developers need time to integrate this feature into their solutions. Another solution is that certain providers, such as Generix Group, can generate Factur-X files for their customers from PDF invoices, which also allows purchasers to manage incoming invoices in Factur-X format.
As soon as you receive the invoice, you can automatically process the file thanks to structured data or manually with the image of the invoice. If an automated transaction is rejected, you can view the image file to detect the error and correct it.
To respond to the difficulties that small companies have in equipping themselves with e-invoicing solutions, public institutions have designed a new standard that can be used with or without automatic data processing techniques. Factur-X is thus another opportunity for companies to ensure their compliance with European regulations by 2020. Want to find out more? Have a look at Generix Group’s solutions now!
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