Archive for Europe

Palette appoints Stratas Business Solutions to bolster UK growth

Stratas will integrate modules from PaletteArena, the complete enterprise purchase-to-payment suite into its Stratas Data Forge platform, enabling a new level of efficiency in their finance solutions.

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CEN TC434 and EN16931. How it belongs together and where to find what.

October 22, 2017  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing, Europe, Standards

This post was originally written by Philip Helger and originally published here. It tries to give a rough, collected overview on CEN/TC 434 and EN 16931, how it belongs together and where to find what.

The EN 16931-1:2017 was published on October 17th 2017 in the OJ. That means that from April 18th 2019 most public procuring entities must be able to accept e-Invoices complying to the UBL and CII syntax requirements defined in CEN/TS 16931-3-2 and CEN/TS 16931-3-3!


In the beginning was directive 2014/55/EU. Article 3 starts with: “The Commission shall request that the relevant European standardisation organisation draft a European standard for the semantic data model of the core elements of an electronic invoice (the ‘European standard on electronic invoicing’).” This lead CEN to start PC 434 (Project Committee) which was later transfered to a TC (Technical Committee): CEN/TC 434.


The TC434 had 6 working groups concerning with the following topics:

  1. A European standard (EN) on the semantic data model for the core elements of an electronic invoice.
    Created: EN 16931-1:2017 Part 1: Semantic data model of the core elements of an electronic invoice.
  2. A Technical Specification (TS) on a limited number of invoice syntaxes (formats) which fully comply with the EN.
    Created: CEN/TS 16931-2:2017 Part 2: List of syntaxes that comply with EN 16931.
  3. A Technical Specification (TS) on the syntax bindings, i.e. information specifying how the semantic data model could be represented in the listed syntaxes (formats) and their automatic validation artefacts.
    • CEN/TS 16931-3-1:2017 Part 3-1: Methodology for syntax bindings of the core elements of an electronic invoice
    • CEN/TS 16931-3-2:2017 Part 3-2: Syntax binding for ISO/IEC 19845 (UBL 2.1) invoice and credit note
    • CEN/TS 16931-3-3:2017 Part 3-3: Syntax binding for UN/CEFACT XML Industry Invoice D16B
    • CEN/TS 16931-3-4:2017 Part 3-4: Syntax binding for UN/EDIFACT INVOIC D16B
  1. A Technical Report (TR) covering the guidelines on interoperability of electronic invoices at the transmission level, taking into account the need of ensuring the authenticity of the origin and the integrity of the electronic invoices’ content.
    Created: CEN/TR 16931-4:2017 Part 4: Guidelines on interoperability of electronic invoices at the transmission level.
  2. A Technical Report (TR) covering the guidelines on the use of sector or country extensions (as described in the Recommendation of the European Multi-stakeholder Forum on e-Invoicing) in conjunction with the European standard, including a methodology to be applied in the real environment.
    Created: CEN/TR 16931-5:2017 Part 5: Guidelines on the use of sector or country extensions in conjunction with EN 16931-1, methodology to be applied in the real environment.
  3. A Technical Report (TR) covering the result of the test of the European standard with respect to its practical application for an end user.
    Created: CEN/TR 16931-6:2017 Part 6: Result of the test of EN 16931-1 with respect to its practical application for an end user.


From a practical point of view this norm means, that all public entities performing public procurement cannot reject electronic invoices from April 18th 2019 if they are retrieved in UBL or CII formats complying to the norm. Certain receivers have an additional 12 month to comply to the requirements, ending up on April 18th 2020.

Because life would be too easy if EN 16931 was a “one size fits all” solution, there are already a lot of so called CIUSs developed. A CIUS is an additional specification on top of EN 16931-1:2017 that narrows certain fields for certain use cases. The methodology how a CIUS is defined, can be found in CEN/TR 16931-5:2017.

An unofficial self-declaration based list of CIUSs is provided by CEF. One upcoming task of CEN/TC 434 is to establish an official registry of CIUSs.


Good question. Currently you need to consult your local standardization body and BUY the standard documents. CEN/TC 434 is heavily trying to make the norm available for free, but they haven’t succeeded so far.

If you are impatient and would ask me what documents to buy I would suggest the following ones:

  • EN 16931-1:2017
  • CEN/TS 16931-3-1:2017
  • One or more of CEN/TS 16931-3-2:2017CEN/TS 16931-3-2:2017 or CEN/TS 16931-3-3:2017 – depending on what you want to implement
  • CEN/TR 16931-5:2017


Mostly it is about validating, if a UBL or CII documents fulfills all the requirements from the norm. Therefore the following steps need to be performed:

  1. Validate the e-Invoice against the XML Schema of UBL 2.1 or CII D16B – depending on the namespace URI of the XML root element
  2. Apply the Schematron rules for the correct syntax. Schematrons are currently available from GitHub but the licensing of these artefacts is still under discussion. A fully working open source validation engine is available at licensed under the business friendly Apache 2 license. It supports UBL, CII and additionally XML EDIFACT invoices.
  3. If you need to follow a certain CIUS, apply the Schematrons of the CIUS in the correct order as well. As there are currently no published CIUSs, there is also no predefined tool support for this. An unofficial self-declaration based list of CIUSs is provided by CEF

OPEN ISSUES PER 2017-10-17

CEN/TC 434 is a pilot project, because it is the first CEN TC that is mandated by law and therefore certain things need to be clarified inside CEN before they are resolved for the users.

The biggest discussion points are currently the costs for the norm (too much) as well as the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issues concerning the copying and reusing of the norm documents or of parts of these documents. E.g. you are not allowed to reuse a document on different devices or outside the country you purchased it in.

Also the licensing of the Validation Artefacts is currently unclear. Are they part of the norm or not?


Term Description
CEN Comité Européen de Normalisation – European Committee for Standardization
CEN/TC CEN Technical Committee – working group
CII UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice – XML representation of an invoice
CIUS Core Invoice User Specification – A specification based on EN 16931-1:2017 that defines certain elements more narrow
EN European Norm – has tighter binding than TR and TS
EN 16931 European Norm instance with ID 16931 – this is the EN that contains the semantic data model for electronic invoices in Europe
TR Technical Recommendation – has lower binding than EN and TS
TS Technical Specification – binding between EN and TR
UBL ISO/IEC 19845 Universal Business Language – XML representation of an invoice


This chapter contains some external links that you might consider helpful:


Are (near) real time reporting e-invoicing controls a threat to e-invoicing adoption?

October 16, 2017  |  Compliance, Electronic Invoicing, Europe

Alicja Kwiatkowski, Legal Counsel, TrustWeaver published an interesting article, called: "EU VAT invoicing controls: What the unfolding policy mix tells us about the future?"

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E-Invoicing and the great electronic signature swindle

E-Invoicing and the great electronic signature swindle

October 9, 2017  |  Compliance, Electronic Invoicing, Europe

The EU Directive clearly states that there is no requirement for e-signatures to be used on e-invoicing, and further CEN guidance provides clear explanations on compliance without technology; and yet there is still so much confusion surrounding e-invoicing and the need for electronic signatures. Why?

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A breakthrough for e-documents in the Nordics

In 2017 we have seen a breakthrough for different e-documents in the Nordic countries. Not only is e-invoicing becoming more popular, but also e-orders and other e-documents are in high demand.

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Sovos continues expansion with the acquisition of FiscalReps

By acquiring FiscalReps, Sovos can better prepare insurers for the digital future of tax compliance and reporting as it expands its European operations to support its global clients.

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E-Invoicing Standard EN-16931 Launch Event

The event is to celebrate the official publication of the standard and to provide a platform for the public and private sector to exchange views and expertise with regard to approaches for the implementation

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New TrustWeaver service unlocks savings in French invoice scanning processes

October 2, 2017  |  Compliance, Europe, Invoice Automation

Up until March 2017, it wasn’t illegal for French businesses to scan paper invoices from suppliers. However, with the entry into force of a new secondary law, there are now clear conditions and processes to digitise paper invoices.

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Europe achieves 75 per cent interoperability

October 2, 2017  |  Europe, Interoperability

The report also studied the implementation of national interoperability frameworks. Spain leads the way (100%) with the National Interoperability Scheme. Next up are Denmark (88%), The Netherlands (87%) and Luxembourg (85%).

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The 4th EESPA annual survey results are in: >1,6 billion B2B/B2G/B2C e-invoices processed!

The 4th EESPA annual survey results are in: >1,6 billion B2B/B2G/B2C e-invoices processed!

1 615 million electronic invoices were processed and delivered in 2016 by members of the European E-Invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA). This represented a significant growth of 29 per cent over 2015 volumes of 1 252 million. This year for the first time EESPA asked the question ‘what is the average value of an invoice processed by your firm?’. The figure derived from the relative limited range of responses was EUR 5868. On this basis, the total value of the reported invoices processed was EUR 9 477 billion.

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