After making e-invoicing – or electronic invoicing – a requirement in the public sphere, Italy is on its way to digitizing B2B invoices. Starting on January 1, 2019, any company issuing invoices to third parties will be required to pass them through the centralized SDI platform (Sistema di Interscambio) for validation. But how does the system work and what are the steps required for submission? We’ll fill you in on the technical details to consider when creating and sending Italian electronic invoices.
Whom is the obligation for? What is its scope?
Since July 1, 2018, hydrocarbon suppliers (natural gas and oil) and companies that rely on subcontractors to respond to public tenders have been obligated to issue invoices in electronic format. Starting on January 1, 2019, every company must comply with this requirement, whatever the scope of its activity is: B2B, B2C, or B2G (a relation between companies and public administrations).
The SDI: a system dedicated to verifying and transmitting electronic invoices
Italy has implemented the SDI (Sistema di Interscambio), a platform on which invoices can be validated and transmitted to their recipients. The system is managed by Agenzia delle Entrate, a public organisation in charge of company tax compliance.
Once an invoice is received on the SDI, its format is verified and its validity confirmed with the issuing company before it is transmitted to the recipient. If the invoice is not compliant with certain technical requirements relating to digitization, the issuer is notified of the problem.
Verification is performed only on the invoice format, and not on the data it contains. Without validation by the SDI, the invoice is locked and cannot be added to the payment circuit.
Format and submission of electronic invoices
Electronic invoices transmitted via the SDI must be in XML format (eXtensible Markup Language) and must meet the schemas and rules defined in the technical specifications. They may be signed and include an attachment. File size is however limited: documents must not exceed 5 MB.
Several possibilities exist for the transmission of invoices on the SDI:
How are electronic invoices transmitted?
Issuer-side transmission channels
Files can be sent to the SDI via several channels:
Recipient-side transmission procedures
In order for a file to be received by the invoice recipient, the recipient must be designated when it is sent to the SDI. There are several possible cases:
What about foreign clients?
In a cross-border client relation, those subject to VAT used to use Spesometro to submit invoices to the Agenzia delle Entrate. Now, all invoices issued in a B2B setting, including sales relations with clients abroad, must go through the SDI. On the other hand, invoices are not transmitted to foreign clients.
How are invoices kept over time?
Electronic invoices transmitted via the SDI remain available for viewing by issuers and final recipients until December 30 of the year following their submission. For example, an invoice sent to the SDI on August 7, 2018 may be viewed by its recipient on the Agenzia delle Entrate portal until December 2019.
It is also possible to sign an agreement with Agenzia delle Entrate to save invoices in the system for free. In this case, the law stipulates that electronic invoices be kept for 10 years.
What about invoicing intermediaries?
If the electronic invoice can be issued directly by a company via the SDI, it is also possible to call on an outside service provider in charge of shipping and issuing delivery receipts. Generally, these are accounting firms, EDI providers, ERPs, etc.
If this is the case, the issuing company is only responsible for the data transmitted. It is the service provider that transforms EDI invoices into the XML format before sending them to the SDI.
What are the differences between B2G and B2B about e-invoicing?
Accepting and rejecting invoices
In a B2G setting, the public administration can reject an invoice. In a B2B setting, an invoice validated by the SDI cannot be rejected by its recipient, so long as VAT verification has been completed and saved. It is, however, possible to request a credit note or credit slip should there be an error.
In a B2G setting, every invoice issued must be signed electronically. This obligation does not apply in the case of B2B.
Registration in the SDI
Public administrations must be registered in the SDI to send invoices. This registration obligation does not apply to B2B companies.
In Europe, over 5 million companies are affected by B2G e-invoicing requirements, and 1.5 billion invoices are saved each year. The extension of this obligation to B2B in Italy will additionally increase the impact of the measure on the country’s companies. But if invoice issuance is relevant to you, take care not to neglect the processing of electronic invoices you receive. To address this issue, companies can use an electronic invoice management solution to automate their invoice processing procedures. Want to learn more about the Generix Invoice Services solution? Click the link below to download the product sheet!
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