We analyse the new regulations on issuing electronic invoices and how they are transposed into Spanish law in Royal Decree 1619/2112 of 30 November. This decree explicitly allows the issuer of digital invoices freedom to choose the system employed to ensure integrity and authenticity of the documents issued best suited to their needs, proposing alternatives to electronic signature.
On 1 December 2012, the Official State Gazette, BOE, published Royal Decree 1619/2012 of 30 November, approving the regulation governing invoicing obligations.
There are few changes from the previous model, as it continues to consider the document that guarantees authentication of the data source and integrity as an electronic invoice, legitimising for the issuance and transfer of legal documents the same technologies already set forth in Royal Decree 1496/2003 (Advanced Electronic Signature, EDI System, Checking Systems, Reliable Audit Trails). However, this new transposition gives the issuer freedom to choose one system or another, implementing at all times a series of validation requirements set by the relevant authorities.
The regulation explicitly acknowledges electronic signature as a means to ensure authenticity of the source and integrity of the content.
Nevertheless, it allows invoice issuers freedom to choose alternative methods to the signature, such as the development of specific management and control models based on so-called “reliable audit trails”, which in any case would need to be analysed and validated by the State Tax Administration Agency.
To the difficulty and cost of developing individual models that must be audited and approved by the competent authorities must be added the possible implications for the relationships with individual invoice-receiving customers. These circumstances make advanced electronic signature the safest, fastest and most cost-effective method to implement “authentic” and “integral” invoice issuing.
Royal Decree 1619/2012: A look at the electronic model
Royal Decree 1619/2012 was drafted to harmonise the existing Directive 2010/45/EU dated 13 July 2010.
Here, we list the items of the ruling with direct impact on the electronic billing model in Spain.
ARTICLE 8: Means for issuing invoices
Invoices may be issued by any means, in paper or electronic format, which guarantees the person obliged to issue them the authenticity of their origin, integrity of content and legibility, as of date of issue and throughout their storage period.
Authenticity of the origin and integrity of the invoice contents, in paper or electronic format, may be guaranteed by any legally accepted means of proof.
Basically, it tells us that electronic invoices may be issued on condition that their authenticity and integrity are guaranteed at all times. And this is assured when using any legally authorised means (Advanced Electronic Signature, EDI System, Checking System, Reliable Audit Trails) stipulated in Article 10.
Article 9: Electronic invoice
Electronic invoice will be understood to mean those bills conforming to the provisions of this Regulation and issued and received in electronic format.
Issuance of the electronic invoice will be conditioned by prior consent from the recipient.
These premises do not change with respect to the previous legislation.
Article 10: Electronic invoice authenticity and integrity
Authenticity of the source and integrity of the electronic invoice content will be assured in one of the following ways:
a) By advanced electronic signature in accordance with that set forth in Article 2.2 of Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 13 December 1999, establishing a Community framework for electronic signature, whether based on a certificate acknowledged and created by means of safe signature creation device, in accordance with that set forth in sections 6 and 10 out of Article 2 of the cited Directive, or in a recognised certificate as set forth in section 10 of Article 2 of said Directive.
b) By electronic data interchange (EDI) as defined in Article 2 of Commission Recommendation 94/820/CE of 19 October 1994, on the legal aspects of electronic data interchange, when the agreement relative to this interchange anticipates the use of procedures that guarantee authenticity of the source and integrity of the data.
c) By other means that the interested parties must notify to the State Tax Administration Agency prior to their use for their pertinent validation by the same.
Article 10 of the regulation expressly acknowledges that electronic data interchange (EDI) and advanced electronic signature guarantee authenticity of origin and integrity of the content of electronic invoices and thus constitute a valid method. It also leaves the door open to using other means, after notification and authorisation for use by the State Tax Administration Agency.
Articles 19, 20 and 21 stipulate the mandatory storage conditions for electronic invoices, which are the same as those set forth in the previous model, establishing their electronic preservation in original format for a 5-year period, as well as the need to provide a system that enables selective searching, copying or downloading of the invoices in a readable format for access by the Administration.
The evident conclusion for businesses is that adopting an electronic invoicing solution based on an EDI system, besides being acknowledged and recommended by the authorities, is a cost-effective solution for administrative and fiscal company management that provides efficiency and significant cost savings compared to traditional paper-based billing formats.
Further information on our E-invoicing solutions