E-invoicing Across Borders: Breaking Down the Barriers

Global E-invoicing

New e-invoicing technology is making its way across North America and the World but with large scale adoption comes obstacles that companies face when streamlining their invoicing practices, especially when their business falls beyond their home country’s border.   A 2010 study done by the Swedish National Board of Trade breaks down the hurdles in front of international organizations and simplifies exactly what the essence of e-invoicing is: a process to “facilitate international trade and simplify a process that currently requires many manual and repetitive actions.” So what are these hurdles and what can your company do to adapt to these challenges?


E-invoices are far from just a picture of a company’s invoice; a number of different components and validations are included in this electronic format.  The national legislation of different countries that control the validity and acceptance of e-invoices based on legal, financial, and administrative perspectives, is currently the primary barrier to cross-border use and some requirements that are included in these invoices are an effect of national Kommerskollegium National Board of Trade 2010legislation or adjoining factions.  Figure 1 illustrates the different requirements for the use of e-invoices in several countries and the varying levels of adoption as per each country’s laws.  While adapting to each countries laws can be expensive and difficult, government sponsored organizations (such as the Swedish National Board of Trade and the European Commission) are working to build a consistent framework for e-invoicing that continues to allow easy and seamless trade between borders in the digital age. 


Common standards significantly ease the use of cross-border e-invoicing as each organization would speak the same language and conversions to different formats would not be needed.  However, unless all participating traders have adopted the agreed upon sets of standards, there is still a conversion of information.  Companies such as Cortex are a great middle-man for solving this issue.  By plugging in to each company’s system, the communication of information is streamlined and data easily converted to the appropriate format for each individual system.  The EU has also developed their own strategy for standardization via the Peppol (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) project.  The vision behind the project is for all companies to ‘increase the use of e-commerce across borders, and Peppol will be offering technology to link national solutions together’. 

Internal Challenges

Applying new technology or business processes is always a challenge.  Not only can it be a large investment but there are always adoptive issues for suppliers or specific technological requirements.  Cortex offers a wide range of connectivity options to companies of all size and an extensive on-boarding solution to ease the transition of trading partners to an e-invoice format.  Additionally, legal provisions must be fulfilled and specific formats must be addressed.  Cortex also has the ability to map fields so that the information is transferred across formats in the correct format.  While your company does have to decide the best solution to fit your needs, Cortex is here to help you and your trading partners get the most from your e-invoice service.  

The use of e-invoices and e-commerce technologies is making national and international trade a quick, effective, and paperless solution so companies can save money and resources vital to their business.  While the use of e-invoicing is still limited, organizations (both government and private) are working to standardize requirements and streamline activities so that all companies have the ability to effectively transact across borders.  By making international trade simpler, faster, and less expensive, a transition to e-invoicing services can continue to streamline business processes and allow companies to expand into new areas.