SETU Invoice (Everything you Need to Know)

The SETU invoice is a standardized e-invoicing format used in the staffing industry in the Netherlands. The SETU invoice solves incompatibility problems by providing one standard to be used by all players in the industry.

Digitization makes processes more efficient. However, compatibility is a big challenge when digitizing processes, as systems often clash.

The staffing industry, which assists businesses in finding the necessary personnel, is becoming increasingly digitized.

Sadly, providers (employment agencies) and buyers (hirers) of flexible workers often use different systems, creating compatibility issues. These include processing delays, increased operational costs, and more.

However, for digitization to lead to process and cost optimization, all systems and data need to communicate with each other in perfect harmony. This is where SETU comes in.

SETU facilitates standardization for the exchange of electronic data in the staffing industry. It standardizes the entire hiring process, from exchanging vacancies to invoicing.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the SETU invoice.  By the end of this article, you will know how to create and send compliant e-invoices in the Netherlands.

What is a SETU invoice?

A SETU invoice is an XML standardized electronic invoicing format designed for use in the staffing industry in the Netherlands, specifically for temporary staff.

SETU is short for Stichting Elektronische Transacties Uitzendbranche, which is Dutch for “foundation for electronic transactions for the temporary staffing industry.”

SETU is a Dutch organization that facilitates standardization for the electronic data exchange between suppliers and customers of a flexible workforce in the country.

SETU aims to provide a unified standard that all players in the staffing industry can use, thereby eliminating compatibility problems caused by different electronic standards.

SETU develops standards for the entire process of hiring flexible workers, from the first request to invoicing. SETU standards cover the following:

  • Vacancies: The standard to use when exchanging vacancies information.
  • Resume: The standard to use when exchanging resumes.
  • Ordering and selection: The standard to use when requesting, proposing, and selecting workers.
  • Assignment: The standard to use when exchanging placement data.
  • Reporting time and expenses: The standard to use when reporting hours worked and expenses incurred.
  • Invoicing: The standard to use when invoicing effort is delivered and cost incurred.
  • Transmission and security: The standard to use when transmitting SETU messages.

Thus, the SETU invoice is just one of the standards developed to standardize the hiring process in the Netherlands. Specifically, the SETU invoice standardizes electronic invoicing between providers and customers of flexible workers.

Difference between SETU invoices and traditional invoices

Businesses request payment for services delivered by creating an invoice and sending it to their clients. The invoice describes the service delivered and states the amount owed, payment method, etc.

Traditional invoices are paper documents. You create the invoice by manually filling in the details on the paper document. After which, you send a printed copy to the customer via postal mail.

Unlike traditional paper-heavy invoices, a SETU invoice is an electronic invoice. You generate an electronic pdf of the SETU invoice. You can then save this locally and send it to the customer via email or other networks.

Thus, unlike traditional invoicing, SETU invoices require less manual intervention. Reduced manual intervention means reduced human errors in invoicing and faster processing.

The biggest advantage of SETU invoices over regular invoices is “a unified invoicing format.”

To ensure compatibility, you and the client you are sending an invoice to need to be on the same page regarding invoicing format.

However, entering exclusive agreements with multiple business partners requires much effort and complicates business relations.

Standardization solves this problem. Standardizing electronic invoicing in the staffing industry creates a format that all staffing companies and staffing customers can use without worrying about compatibility.

While traditional invoices are fraught with compatibility problems, the standardized SETU invoice ensures compatibility. SETU invoice allows you to use the same standard with all your business partners without worrying about system adjustment for each party.

Businesses required to use SETU invoices

SETU invoices must be used by all organizations that deal with flexible workers. These include the following:

  • Providers of flexible workers: These include temporary employment agencies, secondment organizations, etc.
  • Customers of flexible workers: These are hiring organizations that need to fill labor needs.
  • Software suppliers: These organizations supply products for registering and handling processes related to flexible workers (such as time registration, purchase registration, HR registration, and administrative processing).

How to create a SETU invoice

If you occasionally send an invoice to the central government, then you can create your invoice via the Supplier Portal.

When doing so for the first time, you need to register by doing the following:

  • First, go to the supplier
  • Click on “Register”.
  • Search for your company
  • Select your company
  • Complete the required fields.
  • Click “Continue.”
  • You will receive an email activation link to complete your registration.
  • Click the activation link.
  • Choose a password and activate your account.
  • Click “Go to login.”
  • Log in with your details (email address and password).
  • An additional security code will be  sent to your email address.
  • Enter the authentication code to complete your login.
  • Click on “Create new invoice.”

Enter the billing information on the billing setup window that pops up. When entering the details, take note of the following information:

  • In the “To” field, select the government department for the invoice you will send the intended.
  • In the “Order number” field, enter the reference you received from the customer.
  • In the “invoice date,” choose a date for the invoice. By default, the invoice date is the date you are doing the invoicing setup. You can override this value and enter another date.
  • In the currency field, select the currency of the transaction. The euro (EUR) is selected by default. But you can customize it.

After creating your invoice, click on “View preview” to preview the invoice and check whether all data is correct.

If you are satisfied, click “send invoice” to send it. You’ll get a confirmation on your screen. You may click the “Invoices” tab to check the delivery status of your “sent invoices.”

SETU invoice requirements

To process the SETU invoice, it should have the right information entered correctly.

The Dutch government prescribes a set of mandatory and recommended fields that electronic invoices must have. These are:

  • Header information: The invoice must include the invoice number, invoice date, invoice description header, currency, and order number/ reference.
  • Supplier party: The invoice must include the following supplier details: name, company ID/ chamber of commerce number, VAT number, street + number, postal code, city, country, and contact person email address.
  • Customer number: The invoice must have the following customer details: name, OIN (organization registration number), street + number, postal code, city, and country.
  • Payment information: The invoice must include IBAN (international account number).
  • Tax details: It must include the following tax details: taxable amount, tax amount, and VAT percentage.
  • Totals: It must have fields for invoice total, like invoice tax exclusive amount and invoice tax inclusive amount.
  • Invoice lines:  It must have fields for the invoice line number, invoice line reference, name/ description of goods or services supplied, invoiced quantity, price amount, invoice line amount, excl. VAT, and VAT percentage.

In addition to these fill-in details, large amounts of invoice lines (1,000+) are not recommended. When adding attachments, you can only add a maximum of nine (9), with a maximum total size of 20 MB.

You must also send your invoice on time. The client does not have to pay if the invoice is outdated. An invoice will be outdated if you send it five (5) years after its due date.

SETU invoice submission

The Netherlands has chosen Peppol (Pan European Procurement Online) as its electronic invoicing network. So, to submit SETU invoices, you need an access point to connect you to the Peppol network.

With e-invoicing compulsory for B2G transactions in the Netherlands, all government bodies are directly or indirectly connected to the Peppol network. So, you submit SETU invoices to government customers via the Peppol network.

The Peppol network uses the four-corner model akin to a telecommunication network. To connect with other parties on the Peppol network, you need an access point.

In a telecommunication model, you need a telecom service provider that gives you access to the network.

When sending a message (text), it goes from your device to your service provider. Then it moves to your recipient’s service provider, who then sends it to your recipient.

A Peppol access point provider performs functions similar to a telecom service provider.

When sending your SETU invoice via the Peppol network, the invoice will travel from your station to your access point, then on to the recipient's access point, before finally reaching the intended recipient.

Storecove is a certified access point provider that can give you access to the Peppol network.

However, depending on whether you are sending the SETU invoice to a central or non-central public body, you may submit it via email, online portal, or Digipoort.

In summary, when submitting your invoice to central public bodies, there are three options:

  • Peppol: An access point provider will give you access to the Peppol network.
  • Online portal: You input relevant data on online portals.
  • Digipoort: It is like an electronic post office. It’ll receive the message, check it for compliance, confirm receipt, and send it to the appropriate party.

When submitting your SETU invoice to non-central public bodies, there are also three options:

  • Peppol: You need an access point.
  • Online portal: You input data on online portals.
  • Email : You send the invoice as an email attachment if your accounting software can generate XML e-invoices.

Troubleshooting a SETU invoice

Common issues that may arise when creating or submitting a SETU invoice include the following:

Omitting basic invoice component.

If you leave out mandatory invoice components, your invoice will not be processed.

For example, you cannot leave out detailed instructions about payment. Previewing the invoice will help you see if you’re missing essential fields.

Errors within the invoice

Misspellings and numerical errors in invoices can delay processing. You can also solve this by previewing the invoice.

Having unique invoice numbers for each invoice can also help. The invoice number helps in referencing the invoice. Thus, even if two invoices are for the same customer, do not post the same number twice.

Addressing the wrong contact

Sending an invoice to the wrong contact means you’ll not get paid. You can solve this problem by checking the contact information before sending the invoice.

Not confirming receipt of invoice

Not many customers acknowledge receipt of invoices. However, an acknowledgment will tell you that the customer agrees with the details of the invoice, such as the amount and due date. You can address this by calling or emailing the customer.


A SETU invoice is a standardized electronic invoicing format for the staffing industry in the Netherlands. SETU invoices are used by organizations in the staffing industry, such as providers of workers (like employment agencies), customers of workers (hirers), and software suppliers.

When invoicing the central government, you can create a SETU invoice using the Supplier Portal.

The Netherlands has chosen Peppol as its e-invoicing network, so you can submit SETU invoices via Peppol.

To send compliant e-invoices through the Peppol network, you need an access point provider to give you access to the network.

Storecove is a certified Peppol access point provider that helps businesses send compliant e-invoices. Contact Storecove now for your e-invoicing solutions.

More information about the SETU invoice?

Contact us for more information or request a demo with one of our e-invoicing experts.

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