Colombia prepares new electronic billing model

The origins of electronic invoicing in Colombia date back to 1995, when Law 223 acknowledged this document as an alternative to traditional sales invoices. Since then, the legislative framework has gradually been expanded and today it is Decree 1929 and Resolution 14465, 2007 that define and regulate electronic invoicing in the country. A modality which is optional and still remains unknown to many. As a result, the uptake in companies does not exceed 2%.

However, this situation could change very soon. In December 2013, the National Customs and Tax Directorate (DIAN) launched the draft decree on massification of electronic invoicing which, once published, will eventually replace the current regulation. The text is based on strategies that have been implemented elsewhere in Latin America and in particular, in Chile, Brazil and Mexico. In these nation states, the electronic system is widespread among taxpayers.

The new Electronic Invoicing System (SIFEL) proposed will be applied, in the first place, to a given number of subjects chosen by the DIAN. This selection will take into account a number of aspects that should be reported, at the very latest, within 6 months after publication of the Decreed. In addition, those taxpayers who apply to the SIFEL voluntarily can also join.

The electronic billing model currently in force in Colombia has some drawbacks that prevent rapid massification. Among them, the fact that there is no defined standard for electronic documents which ensures their integrity and authenticity and which, at the same time, facilitates their exchange between companies.

With the new decree, the DIAN aims to correct these errors and thus achieve a simpler and more effective implementation of electronic invoicing. To this end, it is expected that electronic tax documents (DTE) will have a standard format, being electronically signed by means of the taxpayers’ digital certificates and provided with a specific graphical representation, through a barcode ensuring integrity and authenticity.

With this project, the DIAN aims to implement an electronic invoicing model in Colombia that improves tax control, while providing advantages for businesses, such as cost savings or streamlining of procedures.