Despite eInvoicing not being mandatory in the United Kingdom, in contrast to the situation in many countries across Europe and Latin America, a major boost has been given to its voluntary use in recent years. The UK National e-Invoicing Forum was set up in 2010 in order to promote eInvoicing in the country’s public and private sectors. Later, in 2015, the publication of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act established the possibility of regulating the use of eInvoicing in B2G relations in the United Kingdom, and VAT Notice 800/63 of 22 May 2015 gave British economic operators the option to choose between paper invoices and e-invoices.
Even so, to date no regulation has been produced which establishes the mandatory use of eInvoicing in procurement in the United Kingdom, nor is there a common platform for the entire country. However, it is the intention of HMRC, HM Revenue & Customs, which is the British Tax Agency, to adopt the European Union's electronic invoicing regulations established by Directive 2014/55/EU.
In any case, despite not being mandatory, the British government does recommend that British public administrations (central government, devolved governments, local authorities and independent agencies) use eInvoicing, and many of them already are.
Use of eInvoicing has been promoted within the central government, specifically in the Ministry of Defence and HMRC. Other public organisations are also including the electronic option in their invoicing.
Moreover, the National Health Service (NHS) is promoting an eProcurement initiative whereby all its dealings with its suppliers - management, procurement processes and communications - are carried out electronically. Undoubtedly, this initiative, which started to be defined in 2014, is the most notable in the United Kingdom, and it has not stopped there, as since 31 March 2016, the receipt of orders in the NHS points of entry is electronic; and by March 2017, 18% of the invoices processed by the NHS were in electronic format through the PEPPOL network.
Likewise, in Scotland, as the core of its eCommerce Shared Service, a solution has been developed for the entire region, called the Professional Electronic Commerce Online System or PECOS P2P, which includes electronic invoicing. In fact, the Scottish government is working on centralising the adoption of eInvoicing so that any organisation in the Scottish public sector can implement electronic invoicing. The results are very positive, and by September 2017, a total of 87,071 invoices had been registered through this solution.
Lastly, in Wales, the National Procurement Service (NPS) is the body that has promoted the development of a strategy called eProcurement Service (ePS) to promote eProcurement, and it is hoped that it will help to establish an electronic invoicing strategy for the Welsh public sector. An example of this progress is the addition of the electronic invoice to the 2016-2019 Merthyr Tydfil Procurement Strategy, which includes the 2016 eInvoicing policy.
There is no doubt that electronic invoicing is becoming a growing reality in the public and private sector in the United Kingdom. Many companies are already using this invoicing system and are aware of the many benefits of using it, which is why it will not be a surprise if it continues expanding throughout the country's business sector in the coming years.
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SERES has written a White Paper on “Electronic Invoicing in Europe” which sets out in detail the progress that is expected for eInvoicing in Europe (Albania, Germany, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine).
It is the perfect guide to understand what your company is facing if it wants to use eInvoicing globally.