At the start of this year, Portugal made it mandatory to include QR codes on invoices. They have a long history of digitizing tax documents and delivering them with ATCUD codes.
In 2023, companies must print ATCUD and QR codes on all their invoices. They will need valid codes from the government and tax authority-certified software before they can start generating the invoices.
These new requirements will be valid for non-resident firms, too.
Let's talk more about ATCUD codes and how the Portuguese invoices will change in 2023.
What are the ATCUD and QR codes?
The Portuguese tax authority is introducing mandatory QR codes on invoices. They implement QR codes on invoices from 1 January 2022. However, the ATCUD code was deferred until 2023.
This was done by Portuguese tax authorities to give every financial purchase a document identification number. They aim to make fiscal documents more easily traceable. This will help enhance tax compliance.
It all started in 2019 when Portuguese tax authorities decided to introduce e-invoicing using certified billing software. Since then, the country's tax office has introduced many new regulations, including ATCUD and QR codes.
A QR code on an invoice was mandatory as a part of the e-invoicing. This was to serve as a validation code for each invoice.
It's a two-dimensional bar code. The Portuguese tax office sets the minimum size of any QR code on an invoice to 30mm x 30 mm.
These QR codes on Portuguese invoices harbor everything about the invoice. All relevant information is encoded in these two-dimensional bar codes using the technical specifications set by the Portuguese government.
QR codes are increasing in popularity because they can contain a lot of data in a relatively small graphic. Plus, data retrieval is very simple. You just need a smartphone camera to read the QR code and get a quick response.
Thus, you can use the QR code as a unique document code that can access or view the document remotely. It is routinely used for WiFi passwords, renting vehicles, redeeming rewards, etc.
QR codes on Portuguese invoices have been implemented since the start of 2022.
The ATCUD is another unique document code. It also needs to be included on the invoices, as per the tax authorities. The ATCUD contains two parts: the validation code and the sequential number.
The validation codes of the ATCUD code are a string of 8-digit numbers. This number is issued by the tax office for a series of invoices. It's based on the series of numbers submitted by the taxpayers.
The sequential code is an internal taxpayer code. It's the number related to the sequence in which invoices have been printed in a series.
Changes to electronic invoices starting January 2023 in Portugal
Starting January 2023, both Portuguese invoice QR codes and ATCUD codes will need to be printed on the invoice. These changes are applicable to non-resident companies too.
Aside from this, both the validation code and the sequential code of the ATCUD code need to be separated by a hyphen. The certified billing providers need to include the ATCUD on every page of any particular invoice.
You need to send your tax documents to the authorities to get the first part of the ATCUD code, the validation code. The authorities will get back to you with the validation codes. This validation code will remain valid for the entire fiscal year.
Plus, the regulatory bodies have a standard document list. This details the types of documents, their classes, and communication in a structured format.
Requirements for including ATCUD and QR codes on invoices
Before you can start putting ATCUD and QR codes on invoices, you must fulfil certain requirements. These include obtaining tax codes and using certified invoicing software.
As a taxpayer, to get the validation code, you need to provide the following to the Portuguese government:
- The identification number of the document you are using.
- You also need to tell them what document you are using according to the structure of the document types set by SAF-T (PT).
- You also need the starting number for the sequential code you want to use in the document series.
- A tentative date also needs to be provided. This is the date when you plan to start using the series.
- Once all your valid tax documents have been submitted, you will be issued a validation document code. This is the first part of your ATCUD code.
But there are several other things you need to do before you can start printing the codes on your invoices.
Your QR code needs to generate documents that are SAFT-PT compliant. SAFP-PT is a format for electronic files that are based on SAF-T. SAF-T was enforced in Portugal back in 2013. Companies have been using it since. All electronic data interchange takes place through SAF-T files.
The QR code needs to have several important pieces of information. These include the details of the entire supply chain and a financial audit of your accounts.
However, not all the information is stored in SAFT-PT because it was introduced at the start of 2022. Some information in QR codes is still being sent as SAF-T.
Moreover, you need an SAP framework for managing your ATCUD codes. It helps you with automatic solutions for your code-generation problems. This SAP network is centralized and creates codes that are unique to you.
You will need to send the required documents to the tax authority for a manual interface. And they will get back to you with the required codes. But with SAP, you can automate the process.
SAP sends the codes to the tax authority itself using a web service. When it gets the codes from the tax authorities, it registers them against the sent codes. This cuts down your work in half!
Who will be affected by the changes?
Everyone doing any kind of business in Portugal is subject to these rules. This includes foreign companies as well.
You will need a compliant invoice series with your eight-characters validation codes to put the ATCUD code on your invoices.
Every large taxpayer in the country must oblige to the digital invoicing protocols laid out for business-to-government (B2G) payments. However, as of 30 June 2022, smaller business and micro companies are also expected to start using digital invoices for their B2G payments.
However, you can't just create invoices yourself. You will need certified billing software that the Portuguese tax authority has set as a pre-requisite for generating digital invoices.
What's the aim of this measure?
Portugal is a trendsetter when it comes to taxes. It has been using digital tools as far back as 2008. Back then, they tried to modernize tax compliance by introducing SAF-T file formats. They were the first country in the world to do that.
With ATCUD and QR codes, Portugal wants to make its fiscal documents more transparent. This is their effort to spread invoice digitization while making it more secure. Considering their history of modernizing commerce, it's no surprise they are moving to ATCUD codes, starting in 2023.
Other countries, especially those in the European Union, are also expected to follow suit. They will likely start introducing electronic invoices as well, following in the footsteps of Portugal.
Speak to an e-invoicing expert
With Portuguese commerce growing increasingly digital, it's no surprise that firms have difficulty catching up with the new regulations.
Your firm can face heavy fines if you don't follow the regulations precisely. Therefore, all your B2G payments need to be foolproof.
The best way to adapt to these changing times is to get help from someone who's an expert at e-invoicing.
Storecove has been generating government-compliant e-invoices for a long time now. Therefore, if your business is based in Portugal and you need help with e-invoicing, fill in the form below to request more information.
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