In addition to Italy, France, and Germany, Spain is also actively working to extend mandatory electronic invoicing to the B2B sector. Initially, the obligation was supposed to be introduced for large companies as early as July 2024 and, thereafter, for all Spanish companies. However, due to the protracted work required to draft the technical specifications and the appropriate regulation, implementation may not take place until January 2025.
First of all, it’s important for those who do business with suppliers and customers outside Italy to stay up to date with the developments that are affecting European and non-European countries in terms of electronic invoicing and e-reporting. In this article, we will provide an overview and then review the steps that will take place in Spain.
It’s always important to mention, as we have done on other occasions, the European proposal known as ViDA (VAT in the digital age), which will have a great impact on introducing the mandatory electronic invoice. When the European proposal enters into force, a series of measures are planned to be implemented between 2024 and 2028, barring extensions that cannot be ruled out and that could push back some deadlines. The proposal introduces the obligation for using electronic invoices in intra-EU B2B transactions, and it also removes some of the bureaucratic hurdles that have held back the adoption of electronic invoices in domestic transactions thus far.
The impetus for the adoption of electronic invoicing in European countries are the achievements of countries that have already taken this path and realized:
- VAT revenue recovery and more extensive control over transactions
- Automation of business processes and improved level of digitization
- Efficient relations between businesses and public administrations
- Reduced payment times by public administrations to the benefit of businesses
The steps for implementing electronic invoicing are evident not only at the European level, but the various actions that some countries are preparing for implementing electronic invoicing at the B2B and B2G levels should be mentioned. Among these countries we have both Spain and France, which will introduce mandates between 2024/2025 and 2026. We have written about how other European countries are progressing in terms of electronic invoicing, namely Germany, France, and now Spain.
Today, we will focus on recent developments announced by the Spanish government. Until now there was only an obligation in the B2G sphere, but now, barring any extensions, the country is ready to begin. As mentioned at the outset, it cannot be ruled out that the obligation, which was initially scheduled for July 2024, will get pushed back to 2025 to make it possible to issue the necessary regulations and, of course, for companies to adapt to the new system.
In Spain, as in other European countries, the country is moving in the direction of progressively extending the use of electronic invoicing in order to increase the degree of digitization of business and procurement processes. One of the main objectives, also reiterated by the ViDA proposal, is to achieve greater control regarding VAT-related obligations and to combat tax fraud.
It’s easy to understand why the public administration sector is the first step that many countries take toward electronic invoicing, given that these are organizations that trigger powerful and complex spending cycles and where traceability and transparency are particularly important and pressing. Thanks to electronic invoicing in dealings between private individuals, other important benefits are gaining prominence. In this respect, Italy is a perfect example given that it recorded a €3.5 billion increase in VAT revenues in 2020 after the introduction of electronic invoicing.
In fact, there are many advantages of electronic invoicing: greater control over possible tax evasion or fraud, development and modernization of the economy, savings on paper consumption and the reduction of physical archives, which are replaced by the far more versatile digital archives.
Today, we will focus specifically on how these benefits will be achieved in Spain by analyzing the draft of regulation, which has been disclosed during the previous months by the Spanish government.
Electronic invoicing in Spain
The use of electronic invoicing in Spain in the B2G sphere has been planned since 2015. As of that time, all administrations, central and peripheral, must be able to receive and process electronic invoices.
Companies supplying public administrations are not new to the requirement to produce only electronic invoices, with one exception for amounts under €5,000. Below that amount, paper format invoices are still permitted.
All electronic invoices sent to public administrations must comply with the Facturae V3.2.X format, which conforms to the European standard EN 16931, and must be signed electronically according to the Xades standard, with a signature based on a qualified certificate.
The Spanish government has developed the FACe platform, through which electronic invoices can be sent to public administrations. It is mandatory for central administrations, while it’s optional for peripheral administrations, which theoretically can also use other platforms. In fact, most administrations have decided to use the FACe platform, as it is free of charge.
Companies supplying public administrations can adopt the technological solution they prefer for producing the electronic invoice, thus taking advantage of the various market options available, as long as they guarantee compliance with the standards in use.
The Spanish Ministry of Industry provides free software for creating and managing electronic invoices, which is especially useful for small- and medium-sized businesses that process limited quantities of electronic invoices. In addition, an additional platform—FACeB2B— has been available since 2018, for managing electronic invoices between contractors and subcontractors of the public administration. This platform is also free and uses the same formats and interfaces as in the equivalent government platform. As a result, the use of e-invoicing in B2B, while not yet mandatory, has already been allowed and encouraged for some time.
What will change starting in 2024
In Spain, the electronic invoice will soon become mandatory in the B2B sphere as well. On September 29, 2022, the Spanish government approved the law called “Creación y Crecimiento de Empresas,” which contains a series of measures deemed necessary to support business growth. It’s no coincidence that the electronic invoice appears among these measures where it is seen as an essential tool to combat tax evasion.
Companies will thus be obliged to invoice other companies and self-employed persons electronically for the provision of services. In a first phase, which is expected to begin in 2024, it will start with companies whose turnover exceeds €8 million, and then gradually involve all others, probably in 2025. These deadlines can be met if the technical regulations and infrastructure needed to support e-invoicing are put in place within the initially estimated timeframe; if not, it’s possible that we will see some slippage.
Barring any extensions, then, the estimated roadmap to date is as follows:
- From July 2024 (or, in case of extension, early 2025), the obligation will begin for companies with a turnover greater than €8 million
- From 2025, the obligation will apply to all companies and professionals; if the mandate is delayed, this phase could be postponed to the second half of 2025, or early 2026.
The regulation, as anticipated, is still in draft status and awaiting final approval, which could also bring possible modifications or further specifications.
However, it’s also worth mentioning some provisions that are directly provided for in the Crea y Crece Law of September 29, 2022. This is the measure that opened the door to the introduction of the B2B electronic invoice in Spain. The law identifies a number of obligations on both the companies that send and receive invoices and the providers that offer electronic invoicing services. Here are some of them:
- Businesses are obliged to issue, send, and receive electronic invoices in business dealings with other entrepreneurs and professionals.
- Sender and recipient will have to provide information on the status of invoices.
- Technology providers will have to ensure free interconnection and interoperability between technology solutions or platforms. The procedure for accreditation of interconnection and interoperability will be established by regulation. The latter point, for example, does not appear to be fully developed in the shared draft regulation, so it cannot be ruled out that further guidance will be provided
- The requirement for recipients to maintain access to electronic invoices for 4 years. This is so that if the recipients of electronic invoices are no longer customers of the sending companies, access can be allowed for 3 years after the end of the contracts.
- Allow and facilitate access, viewing, downloading, and printing of electronic invoices for recipients.
What to expect for the future?
The benefits that have been seen in Italy are certainly to be expected, even if the non-generalized obligation but only B2B and B2G does not make the most of the use of a tool that has proven to be highly effective and full of benefits, such as:
- Efficiency and rationalization of processes
- Cost savings
- Reduced payment times
- Environmental sustainability and reduced carbon footprint
All that remains is to wait for the next developments to be determined by the Spanish government to see if the requirement for electronic invoicing in Spainwill extend to the B2C sphere as well.