Universal Business Language (UBL) was developed by an international collaboration – Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) - to define a royalty-free open library of standardized electronic XML business documents. UBL was intended to be used in e-commerce by small to medium-sized businesses.
UBL was first released in 2004 and is now used worldwide for international procurement, including electronic invoicing. The European Commission approved it in November 2014 for use in public administrations, and UBL invoices are now increasingly requested by European governments.
UBL is a structured format in an XML file, containing all the information in a manual invoice but in a defined and fixed structure.
The UBL format was developed to simplify invoice processing. Invoicing information can be shared between accounting packages without re-keying data. There is no need to know what accounting packages are sending or receiving the invoice data.
Are you an IT / Finance Manager of a large company or a CEO / Product Owner of an ERP software company? You may, at some point, be asked to provide a UBL invoice to an international company or foreign government.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Why should you use UBL?
- The benefits of UBL
- How to Create a UBL Invoice?
- How to Send a UBL Invoice?
- How to Receive a UBL Invoice?
- How to Request a PEPPOL ID?
- How to Send UBL Invoices to Foreign Companies and Governments?
- Summary of UBL Benefits
- Send a free test UBL invoice
- Schedule a Free Consult
Want to start with (UBL) e-invoicing? Book a free demo with one of our e-invoicing experts.
Why should you use UBL?
Especially for government suppliers, IT / Finance Managers, or CEOs, / Product Owners of ERP software companies, there are many benefits to using UBL to send and receive invoices.
Since the European Commission approved UBL in 2014 for tenders in public administrations, it has become the foundation for many European public frameworks, including PEPPOL, the pan-European procurement network.
UBL simplifies the process of sending and receiving invoices internationally by providing an electronic standard of formatting that different e-invoicing systems can share. This standardized format reduces the costs associated with e-invoices.
The benefits of UBL
There are many benefits to sending and receiving UBL invoices, including:
1. 100% data recognition and accuracy: A UBL invoice’s standardized format enables the UBL invoice data to be automatically recognized and processed by the receiving system. Therefore, no human processing of the data is required, with no manual errors. The data received by the recipient software is 100% accurate because there is no manual intervention.
2. UBL removes human error: Human interaction is removed from processing the invoice because it is automatically received and recognized by the recipient. Therefore, errors introduced by people processing the invoices are no longer a concern.
3. No more booking deadlines: Booking deadlines are removed from the invoicing process because invoicing data is automatically sent from one system to another.
4. UBL invoices are paid faster: UBL invoicing enables faster payments between systems and therefore improves cash flow. On average, UBL invoice payments are 16 days faster than manual invoices.
5. No manual processing: The automatic recognition and processing of UBL invoices mean that no manual processing of UBL invoices is required. Because there is no manual processing, labor costs are lower, and less time is spent on processing invoices.
6. More efficient: The time saved through the removal of manual processing, reduction in labor costs, 100% accuracy, and automation makes the UBL invoicing process many times more efficient than manual methods.
7. Reduced invoicing costs: The overall costs for processing UBL invoices are reduced due to the elimination of manual processing and human errors, the increase in speed of payments, and the increase in efficiency of the end-to-end invoicing process.
How to Create a UBL Invoice?
We've explained the meaning of UBL and its benefits. But how do you create a UBL invoice?
Most European online accounting packages are compatible with UBL and enable you to create UBL invoices within your bookkeeping system.
After you've created the UBL invoice, you can send it to your client as an email attachment.
For some accounting packages, however, this function isn't the default setting. So, remember to switch this option 'on' before you send your UBL format invoice.
If your bookkeeping system does not support the UBL format just yet, we recommend that you find an external company that can help you with UBL invoicing. For Dutch and Belgian companies, we recommend FactuurSturen.
How to Send a UBL Invoice?
If you want to send a UBL invoice, the first option is to send your UBL invoice (or invoices) as an email attachment.
Some companies and institutions – and most governments - require a 100% secure and safe delivery. This security requirement means that you cannot use email to send your UBL invoice. You must use the PEPPOL network to send the invoice.
With PEPPOL, you can safely exchange electronic business documents through a highly secure and safe international network. But before you can connect to this network, you will need to register at a PEPPOL Access Point to create a PEPPOL ID.
How to Receive a UBL Invoice?
There are 2 different methods for receiving UBL invoices:
1. Receiving the UBL invoice(s) through PEPPOL. This is the safest and fastest method. You can use this e-invoicing solution to receive UBL through PEPPOL. We will automatically process your invoices into your bookkeeping system.
2. Receiving the UBL invoice(s) as an e-mail attachment. In that case, you still have to upload your invoice manually into your bookkeeping software.
How to Request a PEPPOL ID?
You can request a PEPPOL ID at a PEPPOL Access Point, the gateway to the rest of the PEPPOL network. There are over 200 certified access points available in the international network.
When you receive this unique identification number, you can send invoices to other businesses and governmental institutions connected to the PEPPOL network.
You can request your PEPPOL ID here:
Request Peppol ID
How to Send UBL Invoices to Foreign Companies and Governments?
If you need to send e-invoices to international companies or public entities, you can use Storecove to safely and securely send your UBL invoices worldwide.
We will convert your invoice format to the format required by the receiver. You can then send UBL invoices to companies and governments in countries that require the UBL format, such as:
- The Netherlands
- The United States of America (USA)
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- And many more.
We send all UBL invoices via the 100% secure PEPPOL network.
Summary of UBL Benefits
In summary, if you send a UBL invoice, there are many benefits for both the sender and the recipient. These are:
- 100% recognition - the invoice data is automatically recognized with 100% accuracy
- Zero errors – there’s no human interaction to introduce errors
- No booking deadlines - UBL invoices are automatically received
- Faster payments - UBL invoices are paid around 16 days faster
- No manual processing – fully automatic recognition and processing
- More efficient - UBL invoicing is faster, cheaper and 100% accurate
- Reduced costs – no manual processing, and since time equals money, your costs reduce
Schedule a Demo
To find out more about how your company can benefit from e-invoicing, schedule a free demo with one of our e-invoicing experts.
More information about UBL invoices?
Do you need help with sending UBL invoices to customers? We are happy to assist. Contact us if you:
- Need help with the switch to e-invoicing;
- Need assistance with setting up your account;
- Want to discuss other e-invoicing matters.
Call us on +31 (0) 20 261 17 91 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.