Since 2012, when the Austrian ICT Consolidation Act (ICTKonG) was published, Austria has been developing its electronic invoicing system. On January 1, 2014, e-invoicing became compulsory between businesses and the government (B2G).
However, there were some exceptions where electronic invoicing was not mandatory, such as insurance agreements, leasing agreements, and immediate payments.
Public procurement has become a recognized business area in the last decade. Because of this, the Austrian government has developed its e-invoicing system to support efficient and effective public procurement processes.
In this blog post, we will explore how electronic invoicing works in public procurement in Austria. We will discuss how Austria's e-invoice system operates and how it benefits the government and suppliers alike.
Who governs e-invoicing in Austria?
Austria’s Federal Ministry of Finance is responsible for developing and maintaining the country’s e-invoicing system. The Ministry has also published several guides on using the system, including a user manual, a FAQ section, and templates.
To ensure that the system is interoperable with other countries in the European Union (EU), the Austrian government has aligned its e-invoicing solution with the European Union's Directive 2014/55/EU.
The directive allows Austrian public entities to receive e-invoices in the European standard format (EN-16931).
Additionally, the government has developed a central electronic invoicing platform, the Federal Services Portal (Unternehmensserviceportal - USP), that allows users to exchange invoices in the following three ways:
- Direct uploading of invoices to the USP
- Manually creating invoices through an online form
- Transferring invoices to the USP through a web service or external provider.
The Federal Service Portal facilitates the processing and exchanging of invoices under the ebInterface format.
If a company chooses to use PEPPOL, they don't have to register on the Federal Service Portal. However, they will require an external provider that uses the PEPPOL network to transfer invoices on their behalf.
How to Register on the Federal Services Portal (Unternehmensserviceportal - USP)?
If a business or entrepreneur in Austria chooses to use the ebInterface format, they must register on the Federal Services Portal before they can send or receive invoices. The available registration processes are simple. They include:
1. Using a digital signature: Austrian ID card, mobile phone signature, or citizen's card
The first step is to identify yourself using your digital signature. In that case, you must have a mobile phone with your citizen card app (Austrian ID, mobile phone signature) or your physical ID card (chip card, e.g., eCard).
The second step (optional) is to select the company you want to register on USP. However, you must have representative authority over multiple companies.
2. Using a FinanzOnline company account
If your company already has a FinanzOnline account set up, you can use this to register on the Federal Services Portal. All you need to do is select the "Registrierung zum USP" (Register for Business Service Portal) option. If you don't have a FinanzOnline account, you can register a new one.
3. Register at the information center of your tax office
If you don't have FinanzOnline access data or an Austrian citizen card, you can walk to the government tax office and register there.
The USP account will allow you to manage your company's financial affairs with the government.
Is electronic invoicing mandatory in Austria?
Since January 1, 2014, e-invoicing has been mandatory between the government and businesses in Austria. This includes suppliers from the private and public sectors as well as individuals.
There are some exceptions where electronic invoicing is not mandatory in Austria. Some exceptions include processes like:
- Insurance agreements: insurance companies are exempted from VAT accountability.
- Rental and rental invoices based on tenancy agreements: The Australian government has facilitated an invoicing process for rents. However, you need to use electronic invoicing to transmit annual and monthly utility bills separate from the rental invoice.
- Leasing agreements: These are contracts with similar features to a tenancy agreement.
- Immediate payments: Examples include payments in cash, credit card, debit card, or prepaid card.
- Membership fees: These are fees you pay to national or international organizations or institutions. It is not mandatory to use e-invoicing since this is a service that is not returned immediately by another service.
E-invoicing compliance regulations in Austria
You can exchange electronic invoices in Austria in two formats: the international PEPPOL or the national ebInterface.
1. International PEPPOL
PEPPOL is an electronic invoicing standard that allows businesses to send and receive invoices in a standardized format. The PEPPOL network is used by many countries worldwide, making it a convenient way to exchange invoices internationally.
To use PEPPOL, you will need to use a third-party provider that sends invoices to the Austrian government for verification and validation.
The ebInterface is a national e-invoicing standard developed by the Austrian government. The format is based on XML and can be used to exchange invoices electronically between businesses and the government.
To use the ebInterface, you must register on the Federal Service Portal and upload your invoices manually or through a web service.
It is important to note that from January 1, 2022, the USP portal does not accept electronic invoices in the early format ebInterface 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2. The portals' users are recommended to migrate to the latest version 6.0 or use version 4.3 to continue e-invoicing using USP.
What is the e-invoicing process in public procurement in Austria?
In Austria, businesses and companies can transfer invoices in the following routes:
1. Manual upload via E-RECHNUNG.GV.AT.
This process requires one user to be created after successful registration on the Federal Service Portal. The user who is responsible for all matters regarding electronic invoicing should be granted the necessary rights by the USP administrator in the following steps:
- Click on “Administration aufrufen” (Access Administration)
- Click on “Verfahrensrechte verwalten” (Manage System Rights)
- Go to “Kontoauswahl” (Select User Account) and select the user account you created
- Under “Verfügbare Verfahrensrechte” (Available System Rights) you will see the procedure “eRechnung an den Bund” (E-Invoicing to the Federal Government). Activate the checkbox “Einbringer” (biller).
- The last step is to click on “Ja” (Yes) in “Verfahrensrechte zuordnen” (Assign System Rights).
2. Use of the Internet platform E-RECHNUNG.GV.AT for automatic exchange of data via web service connection
This process allows you to transmit your invoices electronically to the government through a web service connection. To use this web service, you need to create an account with special user rights in the following steps:
Create a new web service account by:
- Clicking on “Administration aufrufen” (Access Administration), which gives you access to the user administration
- Click on “Webservicekonten verwalten” (Manage Webservice Accounts) and then on “Neues Konto” (Create New Account)
- Enter your email address and click on “Anlegen” (Create)
Assign e-Invoicing rights to an existing web service account by:
- Clicking on “Webservicerechte verwalten” (Manage Webservice Rights)
- Go to “Kontoauswahl” (Select Account) and select the user name of the new or existing web service account from the dropdown list
- Go to “Verfügbare Webservicerechte” (Available Webservice Rghts) and tick the checkbox “Einbringer” (Biller) below “E-Rechnung an den Bund Webservice” (E-Invoicing to the Federal Government WebService)
- Click on “Zuordnen” (Assign) and confirm the assignment.
3. Use of the Internet platform E-RECHNUNG.GV.AT for automatic exchange of data via the PEPPOL transport infrastructure
This process allows you to transmit your invoices electronically to the government through the PEPPOL network instead of the government web service. You will need a reliable PEPPOL network provider like Storecove to send electronic invoices effectively to the Austrian government and even internationally.
The Austrian government has developed the ebInterface standard to allow businesses to exchange invoices electronically with the government.
You can create and send e-invoices in Austria by uploading them manually through the system E-RECHNUNG.GV.AT or through the same system, automate your invoice exchange through a web service or the PEPPOL network.
If you are looking for a PEPPOL network provider or an e-invoicing solution, Storecove offers entrepreneurs and businesses a simple and efficient way to connect to the PEPPOL network and exchange e-invoices with their trading partners in and out of Austria.
More information about Electronic Invoicing in Public Procurement Processes in Austria?
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