ZUGFeRD Invoices

A hybrid format that contains both a structured XML file and a visually readable PDF file. It combines the advantages of both formats.

ZUGFeRD (Zentraler User Guide des Forums elektronische Rechnung Deutschland) is a Franco-German format for electronic invoices that combines XML data based on the UN/CEFACT standard and a visual PDF/A document. This hybrid format enables integration into existing business processes and IT systems in order to facilitate the sending and receiving of invoices and minimize manual processing.

Here are the main features and benefits of a ZUGFeRD invoice:

  1. Hybrid format: A ZUGFeRD invoice contains both a PDF/A document, which serves as a human-readable representation, and an XML file, which contains the structured data and can be processed automatically.

  2. Interoperability: Thanks to the combination of PDF and XML, ZUGFeRD invoices can be read by both humans and machines, which increases interoperability between different systems.

  3. Legal certainty: ZUGFeRD fulfills the legal requirements for electronic invoices in Germany and the EU, including archiving obligations.

  4. Cost efficiency: By automating invoice processing, companies can reduce costs associated with the manual processing of invoices.

  5. Simple implementation: Companies can use ZUGFeRD without extensive adjustments to their existing processes and systems, as the format is largely standardized.

Structure of a ZUGFeRD invoice

A typical ZUGFeRD invoice contains the following main components:

  • PDF/A-3 document: The PDF/A-3 format is a special PDF version that is suitable for long-term archiving. It serves as a visual representation of the invoice.
  • XML data: These are embedded in the PDF/A-3 document and contain the structured data of the invoice. The XML data complies with the UN/CEFACT standard and can be processed automatically by ERP systems and other applications.


ZUGFeRD offers various profiles to meet different needs:

  • Basic: For simple invoices without additional information.
  • Comfort: For detailed invoices with additional information such as order numbers and delivery details.
  • Extended: For complex invoices with extensive additional information and specific requirements.

Example of a ZUGFeRD invoice

A ZUGFeRD invoice is typically structured as follows:


Advantages of using ZUGFeRD


Reduces manual effort and the error rate.

Time savings

Faster processing and payment of invoices.

Environmental protection

Reduces paper consumption.


Better traceability and documentation of invoicing processes.

ZUGFeRD is increasingly being adopted by companies and public institutions in Germany and the EU and represents an important step towards digital transformation and efficient business processes.

DocBits and ZUGFeRD

With DocBits you can even create a ZUGFeRD file from a conventional PDF invoice. And it’s really easy. The only thing you need to do is:

  • Log in to DocBits with your access data.
  • Go to SETTINGS -> EXPORT -> activate or add the export method for ZUGFeRD.
  • Then upload your PDF file.
  • Check the invoice details and items, confirm and export the document.
  • As soon as the status of the document is set to Done, you can download the ZUGFeRD PDF with XML attachment.