The evolution of invoices

Everything you need to know about e-invoices

For some time now, companies have been focussing more and more on e-invoicing. Our world, and the business world in particular, is becoming increasingly digitalised and business processes need to run more and more efficiently. But what exactly is behind this term and why is it so relevant for companies? In this blog post, we take you on a journey through the world of e-invoices, explain the differences to paper and PDF invoices and give an outlook on the future of electronic invoicing.

What is an e-invoice?

An e-invoice, short for electronic invoice, is a digital version of a conventional paper invoice. Instead of being printed on paper, it is created, transmitted and processed in an electronic format. This innovative approach brings numerous benefits, including a reduction in paper usage, faster processing and the ability to automate accounting processes.

The exact structure of a digital invoice is defined by law: In accordance with EU Directive 2014/55/EU, standardised specifications for the design of invoices are defined in all EU member states. This directive defines how electronic invoices must be sent and which technical requirements must be met to enable automated processing.

Differences between paper, PDF and e-invoices

  • Paper invoice: Traditional, but increasingly outdated. Paper invoices require manual processing, are prone to errors and slow down the entire invoicing process.
  • PDF invoice: A step towards digitalisation, but not yet optimal. PDF invoices are electronic, but often not machine-readable, which makes automated processing difficult.
  • E-invoice: The modern standard. E-invoices are structured, machine-readable and enable seamless integration into digital business environments.

What are the most common e-invoice formats?

There are various formats for e-invoices, including ZUGFeRD, XRechnung (XML) and EDI invoice. These formats ensure that the data is structured and standardised, which facilitates automated processing. The choice of format often depends on the requirements of the recipient and the industry.

Benefits of e-invoices:

E-invoices can save companies time and money, they offer a wide range of benefits, both for the invoice creator and the invoice recipient

  • Increased efficiency through automated processes
  • Cost savings through elimination of paper and manual processing
  • Environmentally friendly by reducing paper consumption and CO2 emissions
  • Speed and flexibility in invoicing and processing
  • Improved traceability and archiving of invoices
  • Legal compliance with national and international standards


E-invoices offer companies the opportunity to optimise their work processes, reduce costs, protect the environment and comply with legal requirements.

When will e-invoicing become mandatory and to whom does this obligation apply?

The introduction of mandatory e-invoicing is taking place gradually and varies depending on the country and industry. 

In Germany, the obligation to accept electronic invoices for federal authorities and public clients came into force on 27 November 2018. Since then, invoices to the federal government and certain other contracting authorities must be sent electronically.

Federal companies have been obliged to issue electronic invoices since 27 November 2020. This obligation will be gradually extended to companies working for public contracts.

Throughout the EU, electronic invoicing in public procurement is regulated by EU Directive 2014/55/EU. This directive stipulates that contracting authorities in all EU member states must accept electronic invoices that meet the specified standards.

However, it is only a matter of time before it is also widely used in the private sector. Companies should therefore prepare for this at an early stage in order to achieve competitive advantages and efficiency gains.

DocBits - Your solution for modern document processing

The introduction of electronic invoices marks a decisive step in the development of modern business processes. EU Directive 2014/55/EU and national laws are driving this development forward, and companies are faced with the challenge of preparing for the e-invoicing obligation in good time. The benefits are obvious: increased efficiency, cost savings, environmental friendliness and legal compliance. But to fully realise these benefits, an effective document processing solution is essential.

DocBits offers exactly this solution. With our innovative software, organisations can quickly and easily process any document – be it paper, PDF or e-invoice. DocBits integrates seamlessly into existing systems and ensures an efficient workflow. Take advantage of the benefits of digitisation with DocBits and make your accounting processes more efficient than ever.

We live in a world that is constantly evolving, so the switch to e-invoices is not only a duty, but also an opportunity. Take advantage of this opportunity and rely on DocBits – your solution for modern document processing.

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The evolution of invoices

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