How to choose an e-invoicing provider in France?

prestataire de facturation électronique

France is currently immersed in the rollout of B2G Facture Demat. The next deadline for mandatory implementation is January 1, 2018 and will affect over 4700 businesses. There are still 8 months to go, but the fact is that the companies affected must choose an e-invoicing provider that enables them to adapt as quickly as possible to the new Chorus Pro model.

Bear in mind that the group required to sign up as of next year includes companies with 250 to 1000 employees. These are therefore companies which generally exchange a high volume of bills with public administration. So, the most recommendable option is to choose an EDI solution integrated with the ERP to automate the process. However, this alternative does require certain changes to the in-house systems, so it is necessary to approach the technological leap with a sufficient margin of time.

7 tips when choosing an e-billing provider

The question thousands of companies obliged to adopt e-invoicing in France are asking concerns how to choose a technology provider and a suitable solution. At the end of the day, “dematerialization” or e-invoicing is a new trend in which the majority of companies have no experience.

If this is your case, we advise you to always consider these 7 points to ensure your project’s success:

  • Experience

Check that the supplier has experience in the development and implementation of e-invoicing solutions in the B2G area. Ideally, they should already have other clients in France and can show you a local success story. This will ensure that they meet all the requirements laid down in the regulation and can connect to the Chorus Pro Portal.

  • Scalability

Tax agencies around the world are obliged to take up e-invoicing, but in addition, some already require its use in the B2B segment as well. In other words, what you really need is a scalable solution, even although for now you are only going to use the system in France and with the public sector. Moreover, bear in mind that e-invoicing entails economic and efficiency benefits for businesses, so you might want to think about extending its use voluntarily beyond the obligation.

  • Updating

The demands in terms of e-invoicing have changed over the years. In fact, the Chorus Factures portal set up in 2012 has already evolved into Chorus Portail Pro 2017. In this sense, it is important that your tech provider can ensure constant updating of the solution so that it remains always adapted to future requirements.

  • Security

The data exchanged in electronic invoices are particularly sensitive. You must ensure document confidentiality and integrity. To do so, check that the solution applies secure communication protocols and holds accreditations such as ISO 27001, ISAE 3402 or TIER II.

  • Technological infrastructure

To check the technological capacity of your provider and their solution, you can consult their SLA. What are their commitments? Ideally they should guarantee high service availability and compensate you for any breach of contract. In addition, their infrastructure and must be tried, tested and certified by the AIFE (Agence Financiète pour l’Informatique de l’Etat).

  • Support

If any errors occur, you will need a fast response. So, your suppliers should provide a qualified support service 24x7x365, and in different languages if you are operating from different markets.

  • Certified storage service (strongbox)

In e-invoicing, not only is the issuing and sending process important, but also their storage. Choosing a provider that saves these documents digitally, preserving their legal value through the eIDAS regulatory mechanisms and for the period laid down in the regulation in each case.

The EDICOM solution

EDICOM is a leading e-invoicing and EDI provider, with more than twenty years of experience. The Facture Demat solution meets all the requirements mentioned in the previous section and guarantees 99% service availability. In addition, it is a scalable platform adapted to electronic tax compliance in more than 60 countries around the world.  Certificates assuring the quality of the IT processes, such as ISO 20000 or ISAE 3402, are our technological guarantee.

In the European scope, EDICOM now collaborates with several administrations to facilitate e-invoicing implementation. We keep a legal e-Invoicing Observatory staffed by a group of experts monitoring any changes in the e-invoicing area. This enables us to keep the solutions adapted to any technical or legal modifications as they arise.

You can ask for a live demonstration of this solution and further information via the contact form.

e-Invoicing in France: Chorus Pro adaptation to intermediate companies

Chorus Pro

The e-invoicing massification process in France kicked off last January with the Chorus Pro model. However, to date only 70,000 public entities and 214 large companies have adapted to this mandatory new system. From now on, the AIFE considers that over 1 million administration suppliers still have to migrate. Next up are 4700 medium-sized companies obliged to take the plunge by January 1, 2018.

Ordinance No 2014-697, which covers the e-invoice known as Facture Demat in France, has split the electronic adaptation process into four steps, depending on company size and turnover. Now, only companies with more than 5000 employees and earnings of over 2 million euros are obliged to use e-invoicing with the public sector. This is therefore only a minority part of the French market.

Nevertheless, from January 2018, implementation of e-invoicing in the private sector will start to become an exception. The regulation considers “intermediate” companies to be all those with 250 to 5000 employees and a billing turnover between 1.5 and 2 million.  

Of course, the true fiscal dematerialization will take place between 2019 and 2020 when SMEs and micro-enterprises will have to adapt, respectively. By then, the French executive expects that roughly 95 million invoices will be issued electronically each year This should achieve savings of €710 million per annum.

Download our White Paper on Facture Demat to find out all the details on this system.

How should medium-sized businesses adapt to Facture Demat?

In addition to setting out a schedule for adoption, the French regulation states which issuing system is most suitable for each type of company. In the case of medium-sized companies, the recommendation is to use an EDI solution with direct connectivity to the Chorus Portal (the Public Sector e-invoicing hub).

The main reason that medium-sized companies use EDI is that it lets you automate the process of creating, issuing, reporting and storing the documents. We must remember that in most cases this type of company generates more than 1000 invoices a year addressed to public agencies, so their creation and manual uploading to the Chorus Portal really slows down productivity.

With EDI, suppliers to the administration can integrate the e-invoicing solution with their ERP or habitual management system. This way, admin and management departments have no need to modify their internal working procedures.

Every time an invoice is created in the ERP, the solution transforms the document automatically into the UBL structured data format required by the regulation, which adds security to the transaction compared to manual uploading in PDF format. Later, the same solution communicates directly with the Chorus Portal. The entire process takes place in a matter of seconds in a way that is totally transparent to the user.

However, rolling out a solution of this kind calls for changes in the company’s systems. So, it is crucial to prepare the switch to e-invoicing with sufficient margin of time to meet the deadline demanded by law.

Taking advantage of dematerialization

Beyond the immediate benefits, such as fewer errors, increasing productivity or cutting economic costs, e-invoicing through EDI can mean other advantages for businesses in the mid-term.

In the sense, the Facture Demat solution created by EDICOM not only automates the issuing of e-invoicing in France, but is also a scalable platform. Through it, it is possible to file tax returns in over 60 countries worldwide, so that multinationals can centralize all these tasks in a single solution.

Chorus Portal Pro 2017 test run in pilot project

Chorus Portal Pro 2017 test run in pilot project

France is now into the final stretch of e-Invoicing rollout. As of last September 20, 18 public institutions are voluntarily taking part in the pilot project for Chorus Portal Pro 2017, the billing management tool due to replace the current Chorus Portal from next January. EDICOM is also working with these public bodies to facilitate their incorporation to this system. The aim of the test period is to check that dematerialization is on schedule  to be up and running by the deadline set in Ordinance Nº 2014-697.

The French government ruling requires large companies of more than 5000 employees to adopt e-invoicing on a mandatory basis from January 1 in their business relations with the Public Sector. In other words, all public bodies must also be ready to use this paperless system by the same deadline. Thereafter, the legislation sets out a schedule for gradual adjustment depending on the size of the companies, finally reaching smaller businesses in January 2020.

 

 

Chorus Portal evolution

In 2012, the AIFE (Agence pour l’Informatique Financière de l’Etat) developed the Chorus Portal to centralize the management of electronic invoicing sent to the Public Sector. Now, with the upgrade to Chorus Portal Pro 2017, also known as CPP 2017, the agency aims to improve the tool, making it operational with the massification of e-invoicing.

The Chorus Portal Pro platform was created to fulfil two functions. On one hand, it will concentrate all the invoices sent by suppliers to the administration. In other words, it is a HUB responsible for centralizing the receipt of documents and distributing them to the corresponding public agency for processing.

On the other hand, the tool will act as a free website for issuing electronic invoices. The solution is designed for small businesses without technological capabilities, but it is not an option for companies with larger billing volumes. This is because, unlike EDI solutions, where the entire process takes place automatically, in this case the issuance and subsequent control of invoicing must be carried out manually.

 

Outcomes of dematerialization

Although not much information on the pilot project status has been released yet, the AIFE has stated that the initial results are positive.  In any case, the Chorus Portal Pro is expected to eventually process around 100 million electronic invoices each year. When mass widespread use of this system is achieved, Secretary of State Christian Eckert has stated that the resulting savings will reach 1000 million per year.

 

How to issue e-invoicing in France?

With less than two months to go until B2G e-billing becomes mandatory in France, large companies should get ready to address this dematerialization as soon as possible and reap all the benefits use of the technology can provide, such as increased efficiency and saving on economic costs.

To streamline adaptation, EDICOM has developed an e- invoicing solution adapted to the technical and legal requirements of the French legislation. This platform integrates with your ERP and lets you fully automate the dematerialization process. In addition, it is a scalable solution ready to issue electronic invoices in more than 60 countries around the world, so that multinationals can centralize all their tax compliance in a single tool.

How to send e-invoices to the Public Administration in France?

IMG_einvoicing_france

As each day goes by, suppliers to the Public Administration in France are increasingly closer to implementing electronic invoicing. As of next January, this system will be mandatory for large companies as well as central and regional official bodies. The process will continue gradually until 2020, with the incorporation of small and medium-sized companies. In total, the measure will affect thousands of taxpayers who are now asking themselves how they need to issue their invoices to the public sector in order to comply with Ordinance Nº 2014-697.

As the obligation affects very different profiles, from small businesses to large corporations, the regulation provides for different e-invoice sending options. We can distinguish them around two main typologies: automated solutions and manual solutions. Let’s take a look at how they work.

Manual solutions

This is the perfect option for suppliers to the administration that generate a low billing volume and have a very limited technological capacity. There is no need to implement anything to achieve fiscal dematerialization.

We find three different ways of manually issuing e-invoicing:

  • Web Portal

Taxpayers choosing this option need to key in the invoice twice: once in their own accounting and again in the Chorus Portal. This process thus requires time and can give rise to errors. For this reason, it is only advisable for businesses issuing fewer than 100 invoices annually.

  • Importing to Chorus Portal

Similar to the first option, but instead of keying in the invoice, the taxpayers can import it directly from their own systems. To do so, they must first generate a signed PDF file. In other words, the process is slightly shorter, but the security is low as the format is unstructured. This is why it is only recommended for companies generating between 100 and 1000 invoices annually.

Automated solutions

This type of solutions is designed for multinational corporations, those issuing more than 1000 bills annually, or those wishing to progress towards digital management.

In this case, the AIFE (Agence pour l’Informatique Financière de l’Etat) allows the use of two types of XML schema. On one hand, INVOICE UBL V2 and, on the other, UN/CEFACT CII (CCTS/NDR v3.0). Both are structured formats that provide strict security assurances and enable automatic generation and forwarding of messages to the public sector. In addition, they make integration between systems and applications possible.

Transmission takes place by EDI, with direct and secure indication protocols. With automation, the time employed in complying with tax obligations is cut, minimizing errors, improving productivity and, in consequence, increasing economic saving.

EDICOM has developed EDI solutions designed for businesses already using this technology that need to adjust to the current requirements, as well as those that have yet to implement a solution. In either case, the e-invoice issuing process is carried out immediately, in these 5 phases:

  • First of all, the platform captures the data automatically from the company’s ERP.
  • The information is then transformed into XML format.
  • The next step consists of validating the data to ensure that the file contains all the information required by the AIFE and the recipient administration.
  • Then, EDICOM connects with the Chorus Portal through the Public Administrations HUB, so all the invoices can be transmitted automatically.
  • Finally, the link with Chorus ensure traceability of the e-invoices. Companies can consult the status of their documents in real time through their own ERP.

The spread of e-invoicing among the public sector and its suppliers will lead to a significant lowering of economic costs compared to the traditional billing process. Total yearly savings are expected to be around €710 million. To find out more about this system, you can download the White Paper on e-invoicing with the Public Administration in France (available in French and English).

Fiscal dematerialization in France in the frame of Directive 2014/55/EU

Fiscal dematerialization in France in the frame of Directive 2014/55/EU

Within only 4 months, French public administrations and their larger suppliers and service providers will be required to issue e-invoicing in their business relations. This measure was already regulated by the French government in 2014 with the approval of Ordinance Nº 2014-697. But this digital race does not only affect France.

A few months before the French executive approved its ‘dematerialization’ order, the European commission announced Directive 2014/55/EU. This regulation came about in response to the plethora of standards used in the different member states and which hamper interoperability between markets. With this ruling, the European Union aims to set a common standard to streamline cross-border trade, simplify e-billing and ensure security.

Directive 2014/55/EU also calls upon the entire European public sector to be ready to work with this technology by November 2018. This requirement is estimated to affect over 100,000 public administration offices and millions of suppliers across the union. In this regard, France is getting ahead of the challenge to a great extent, as by November 2018 its central administration and the vast majority of suppliers will already be used to e-invoicing.

Nevertheless, transposition of the European regulation also means implementing the new common standard. For now, state IT financial agency AIFE (Agence Financière pour l’Informatique de l’Etat) allows the use of two international XML schemas: INVOICE UBL V2 and UN/CEFACT CII (CCTS/NDR v3.0). The next step for the French administration will be to adapt the interoperable standard issued by the European Standardization Committee (CEN).

Towards global digitization

As occurred in France, other European countries have also brought the directive forward and are already gearing up to handle e-invoicing. This is the case of Spain, Portugal or Italy, where the system is already mandatory for the public sector and its suppliers.

The European Union is making headway towards a paperless horizon. Nevertheless, this just part of a generalized trend worldwide. Latin America is already at the forefront of this technology and some Asian countries are also starting to implement it. The Billentis report: E-invoicing/E-billing. Entering a new era, states that this year as many as 30 billion electronic invoices could be exchanged.

The main aims of this technological quantum leap are to improve tax controls, automate administrative tasks, boost efficiency and, most of all, lower economic costs. In France alone, where it is estimated that some 95 million invoices will be issued electronically each year, annual savings could reach €710 million euros. Of this figure, 335 million would be in the private sector only.

Download the White Paper on e-invoicing in France for further details on this system and its application in the European scope [available in French and English].