International customers ask for e-invoices: now what?

You probably stopped sending paper invoices a long time ago and are now emailing PDFs to your customers. But such a digital invoice is not yet the same as an electronic invoice. So what do you do when government agencies or foreign companies ask you for an e-invoice?

They are mandatory in many countries and with many governments: electronic invoices that you send from your automated accounting or ERP software to your customer’s system. This policy is currently spreading like an oil slick. Not surprisingly, because e-invoicing is easy and faster and more accurate than scan and recognition software: time-consuming, manual checks are a thing of the past. In addition, e-invoicing saves a lot of printing and postage costs.


For instance, since April 2019, all Dutch government organisations and other contracting authorities are obliged to be able to receive and process e-invoices from their suppliers. More and more provinces and larger companies are catching on and electronic invoicing has also been the standard in the construction industry since January 2022.

An example of e-invoicing abroad

If you have customers in Italy, for example, you cannot avoid e-invoicing. An invoice there has to meet certain technical specifications and always goes to the government for verification first. Only after approval is the invoice forwarded to the end customer. Our client citizenM (with hotels around the world) also faced the obligation in Italy.

What to do if current accounting software cannot comply with an invoicing mandate? To make that e-invoicing secure, more and more companies are turning to tradeinterop. So did citizenM. Through us, the hotel chain now sends and receives e-invoices in several countries via Peppol, among others.

What is Peppol?

Peppol (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) is the largest international network for the secure exchange of e-invoices and orders according to a specific technical format (UBL). This allows the exchange of documents with connected governments and companies worldwide. The infrastructure guarantees the security and authenticity of businesses.

Peppol was once developed as an EU network. That is why some 31 European countries are already working with it today. But an increasing number of countries outside Europe are also introducing Peppol as a standard, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan.

Until now, connecting a company to the Peppol network is done through an e-invoicing service provider, a so-called Access Point that you select yourself. Compare it to your telecom provider. Such a connection is arranged within a few days. The Access Point then exchanges your electronic documents with your customer’s Access Point, over the secure network and based on Peppol specifications.

‘I send PDFs and just get paid, why should I choose Peppol?’

Using your existing software to process invoices differently is not something you do overnight. But how about these 3 great benefits of Peppol?

1. E-invoicing abroad is faster and cheaper

Once connected to Peppol, you can easily exchange e-invoices with any other party that is connected. You no longer need to enter invoices manually or log into different platforms to e-invoice. And converting your invoice to the UBL format is done automatically. Incoming invoices are also automatically imported, entered and paid after approval. This will save you, your colleagues and your customers a lot of time, errors and costs.

2. E-invoicing via Peppol is more secure

Peppol gives you more certainty that an invoice has been received and can be processed. Indeed, invoices exchanged through this network contain safeguards for security, privacy and reliability. As an example, anyone using the Peppol network must identify themselves when implementing it. This prevents phantom invoices. Also, invoices cannot be intercepted, modified and forwarded. This reduces your risk of fraud and data breaches.

3. Thanks to Peppol, you will not lose customers

If you invoice via Peppol, your e-invoices will meet your customer’s technical and legal requirements for e-invoicing and e-procurement. Customer happy, you happy. Besides, Peppol is no hype. The network is well on its way to becoming the global standard. It has been developed over many years, and as more and more companies, governments and countries catch on, you will sooner or later have to deal with Peppol. Are you ready yet?

Learn more about e-invoicing with Peppol

Are you considering easier invoicing to customers around the world? Download our whitepaper ‘E-invoicing with Peppol’ and read more about the benefits and tips for your connection to the secure Peppol network.

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