Mandatory electronic invoicing: what’s at stake?
02 January 2021
02 January 2021
BtoB e-invoicing is becoming mandatory for all business-to-business transactions. The obligation to issue invoices in a digital format will gradually apply to all companies according to the following timetable:
The obligation extends to all transactions between VAT-registered companies established in France. Electronic invoices will be sent via a platform used by the issuer and recipient of the invoice. The platform can be either:
Invoices must be received by September 1, 2026 for all companies whose suppliers are obliged to issue them in electronic format.
Far from being a constraint, this new requirement is an opportunity, particularly in the current context.
Here’s an update on the BtoB e-invoicing obligation, the FNFE-MPE’s work to help companies make the switch, and the challenges and benefits of this new obligation for businesses.
In the early days, e-invoicing was called “dematerialization for tax purposes”, and its medium was EDIDMF, for EDI dematerialization. Complex, costly implementation and restrictive regulations meant that its use was limited to:
The objectives were, for some, greater integration between industrial partners and, for others, a reduction in administrative tasks and invoice management costs.
The aim of the public authorities is to encourage as many companies as possible to adopt electronic invoicing. It was against this backdrop that the FNFE, Forum National de la Facture Electronique, was created in January 2012.
The FNFE’s main mission is to contribute to the adoption of electronic invoicing by businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. The FNFE is an association open to all companies. FNFE members include professional standardization organizations such as GS1, GALIA, e-invoicing solution providers and accounting and management software publishers.
The FNFE is working in a number of areas to encourage and simplify companies’ transition to electronic invoicing.
Interoperability is the key to enabling all companies to exchange electronic invoices seamlessly:
The FNFE is the French promoter of the Factur-X mixed or hybrid format, which combines the advantages of a structured format and PDF-A/3 in a single file. In other words, it can be read and used by both machines and humans. The aim of this format is to facilitate the adoption of electronic invoicing by small and medium-sized businesses.
Still with the aim of facilitating the adoption of electronic exchanges by all businesses, since January 2021 the FNFE has been offering electronic orders in a mixed format, ORDER-X.
As part of the January 2020 requirement for all companies to send electronic invoices BtoG, Business to Government. The FNFE, in collaboration with AIFE (Agence pour l’Informatique Financière de l’Etat), is promoting the use of the Chorus Pro platform among companies working with the public sector.
FNFE-MPE experts monitor regulatory developments, at both national and European level. They organize information webinars and regularly publish documentation, guides and practical information sheets for companies implementing e-invoicing.
FNFE-MPE publications: The most recent concern Article 153 of the 2021 Finance Law, which institutes mandatory BtoB electronic invoicing from September 2026.
From September 1, 2026, electronic invoicing between companies will change dimension:
This new e-invoicing obligation is accompanied by an e-reporting obligation. Companies will have to transmit data linked to their invoices to the tax authorities.
These measures will affect 2 billion BtoB invoices issued each year in France, of which only around a quarter are currently dematerialized.
In October 2020, the DGFIP (Direction Générale des Finances Publiques) published its report on the application of this reform under the significant title of « VAT in the digital age in France ».
* For more details on the new obligations, read our article on the reform of e-invoicing and PDPs *
In addition to compliance with the law and the obligation to use an invoicing platform to send and receive invoices, the challenges for companies are to control the costs of implementing the switch to electronic invoicing, the digital transformation of their purchasing and sales processes, and the qualitative benefits to be gained.
Implementation costs for companies vary according to the volume of invoices processed and the company’s maturity in tax-compliant e-invoicing.
For companies still using paper invoices for both issuing and receiving, lthe priority for July 1 will be to be able to process electronic supplier invoices. Invoice reception using the Factur-X standard will enable a gradual evolution towards a 100% digital scheme.
As far as the issuing of electronic invoices is concerned, the transition will prove to be a virtually cost-neutral operation. In fact, the savings obtained by abandoning paper dispatch, printing, envelopes and postage, and the costs of issuing electronic invoices will balance each other out. To create and issue electronic invoices, the minimum equipment required is estimated at:
For companies already dematerializing their customer invoices, the challenge will be to increase their capacity to issue electronic invoices to all their customers. They will also benefit from economies of scale.
The benefit of receiving supplier invoices in electronic format enables the implementation of an automated invoice validation process right through to payment initiation. This eliminates the need for re-typing, and automatically reconciles invoices with delivery notes and orders. It will also enable you to set up a validation workflow right up to the point where payment is triggered.
Ultimately, the purchasing department will benefit from a fully automated P2P (Procure to Pay) cycle.
Customer invoices are sent directly to their recipient via a certified invoicing platform or via Chorus Pro. Invoices can be submitted directly via Sales Management or manually.
The advantages are tracking of invoice dispatch, often with notification of receipt. And, ultimately, payment deadlines are respected.
The benefits for companies are essentially linked to the digital transformation of their businesses. In other words, a new way of organizing and working, with new tools and methods at different levels:
With BtoB electronic invoicing due to become compulsory in September 2026, companies need to start rethinking the way they process their invoices today. The tasks of handling, checking and processing paper documents are disappearing. They will be replaced by IT processes.
Organizational changes will be numerous. Time spent on data entry and validation will decrease. On the other hand, control and audit will be stepped up to detect anomalies and attempted fraud in real time. IT systems will therefore have to be operational by September 2026.
Tenor offers an e-invoicing solution that complies with legislative requirements and meets user needs. Tenor will be certified as a Partner Dematerialization Platform, giving it the right to transmit and receive invoices from the Public Billing Portal. No matter what format your invoices are in!