The VAT rules that apply to issuing of e-invoices (electronic invoices) in the European Union vary from country to country. Furthermore, the rules keep on changing on a continues basis. In some countries there are no prescribed standards in addition to the requirements that are in place for the standard "paper invoices". Examples of countries applying no special rules are Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. In other countries, the procedures are much more complex, and a so called "qualified digital signature" may be required. In these countries a binding ruling should be requested from the tax authorities before starting to issue e-invoices. Example of a country with special e-invoicing rules is Germany.
In an attempt to streamline and simplify the rules among the EU countries, The European Commission adopted a proposal to change the VAT Directive (2006/112/EC) in respect to the invoicing rules, and published a Communication on the technological developments in the field of electronic invoicing. This was done in January 2009.
However, the different EU countries still have the possibility to partially implement their own requirements, and it is therefore very important for a North American company to be aware of the different rules when dealing with Europe and:
- receives electronic invoices from European vendors
- is registered for VAT in one or several countries in Europe, and has to issue "VAT invoices" to the customers
- provides e-invoice services to companies worldwide
Please contact a Euro VAT Refund VAT Expert for more detailed information and assistance.