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Electronic invoicing in public procurement

  • Belgium
  • Procurement strategies

12-07-2019

Since April 26, 2019, contractors, to whom a public contract or concession has been awarded, have the possibility to issue an electronic invoice and transmit it to the contracting authority.

This novelty is the result of the transposition of the European Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement, and has been integrated in the Public Procurement Act 2016, the Concession Contracts Act 2016 and the Public Procurement and Certain Works Contracts, Supply Contracts and Service Contracts by Contracting Authorities or Entities in the Fields of Defence and Security Act 2011.

The European Parliament and European Council are of the opinion that the use of different non-interoperable standards on electronic invoicing in the Member States cause obstacles to Intra-Union trade. Therefore, the aforementioned Directive imposes on contracting authorities and contracting entities the obligation to receive and progress electronic invoices which are compliant with the European standard on electronic invoicing and with the syntaxes listed by the European Commission in the Official Journal of the European Union.

An electronic invoice means an invoice that has been issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic format which allows for its automatic and electronic processing.

This electronic invoice has to comply with a specific European Standard, and should at least contain (1) the process and invoice identifiers, (2) the invoice period, (3) the seller information, (4) the buyer information, (5) the payee information, (6) the seller’s tax representative information, (7) the contract reference, (8) the delivery details, (9) the payment instructions, (10) the allowance or charge information, (11) invoice line item information, (12) the invoice totals, and (13) the VAT breakdown.

Since April 26, 2019, the contracting authorities are obliged to accept and process the electronic invoices which comply with the above and which they receive from their contractors. For the contractors, e-invoicing is only a mere possibility. It is expected that for 2021, e-invoicing will be an obligation for contracting authorities and contractors alike.

As for now, e-invoicing is only an obligation for contracting authorities, and a mere possibility for contractors. However, it is the legislator’s intention to impose e-invoicing upon contractors as an obligation, since the new legal provisions, integrated into the aforementioned Acts, provide for an e-invoicing obligation, which is for the time being transformed into a mere possibility by means of a transitional provision.

There are three exceptions to this obligation.  The e-invoicing obligation will not apply (i) to procurements / concessions made by autonomous public bodies or by persons enjoying special or exclusive rights, (ii) to procurements / concessions placed by diplomatic representations or consulates in the context of development cooperation, or in the context of participation in an international exhibition of the International Bureau of Exhibitions and (iii) to procurements / concessions for which the estimated amount is less than or equal to the amount (to be) determined by the King.

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