Electronic invoicing is taking over Italy

9 November 2018

As of 1 January 2019 all invoices issued regarding the sale of goods and the providing of services carried out between subjects residing or established in Italy, shall only be electronic.

The obligation of electronic invoices, introduced by the 2018 Fiscal Law, is valid both in the case where the sale of the goods or the provision of services is carried out between two VAT subjects (B2B transactions), and in the case where the sale/provision is carried out by a VAT subject towards a final consumer (B2C transactions).


The rules for preparing, transmitting, receiving and archiving electronic invoices are established by the Decree No. 89757 of April 30, 2018 published on the website of the Italian Tax Authority.

In general, the electronic invoice differs from a traditional paper invoice only for the following two main aspects:

1) it needs to be written using a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone

2) must be transmitted electronically to the client through the so-called System of Interchange (SDI)

The SDI is a sort of "postman" who performs the following tasks:

  • it checks that the invoice contains at least the compulsory data for tax purposes (art. 21 or 21 bis of the Decree of the President of the Republic No. 633/1972) and the electronic address (so-called "recipient Code" or certified e-mail address) at which the customer wants to receive the electronic invoice;
  • it checks that the VAT number of the supplier and the VAT number or the customer's tax code really exists.

If the above-mentioned checks comply, the Interchange System (SDI) delivers the invoice to the recipient by communicating the date and the time of delivery of the document to the subject that transmitted the invoice with a "delivery receipt".

Therefore, the mandatory data to be reported in the electronic invoice are the same that are contained in paper invoices in addition to the electronic address that has been chosen by the client.

The individual VAT subjects who adopt the VAT exemption regime (adoptable only for small businesses) are excluded from the obligation of issuing the electronic invoice; small agricultural producers are excluded too.

To issue an electronic invoice the VAT subject must have:

  • a PC, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone;
  • a specific software that permits the preparation of the invoice file in the XML format foreseen by the Tax Authority.

It is important that companies use this change as an opportunity to integrate their IT accounting systems with the invoicing systems, in order to take advantage of the effective saving of time related to the registration of sale and purchase invoices and their filing.

By Gianluca Panizza, HLB Italy

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