Frequently asked questions

Please note that the treatment of the ZUGFeRD-invoice may be different due to national law! 

Is PDF as the basis of ZUGFeRD not a vendor-dependent format?

What are the components of a ZUGFeRD document?

In a ZUGFeRD bill are always PDF and XML file necessary? Or would be just to the use of the XML file ZUGFeRD compliant?

Are agreements between two parties (bilateral agreement between receiver and transmitter) in the concept of ZUGFeRD format necessary?

Is this ZUGFeRD format across the EU and international use?

Must ZUGFeRD invoices are always sent by e-mail?

What is authentic: PDF and / or XML?

How must I archive an electronic invoice?

What does the abbreviation "ZUGFeRD"?


Is PDF as the basis of ZUGFeRD not a vendor-dependent format?

In ZUGFeRD format PDF/A is used. PDF/A is published as an ISO standard since 2005. Thus, the format is based on an international, open for consultation by anyone and public standard and is independent of the manufacturer. In 2005 the first version of PDF/A has been published. For ZUGFeRD of norm 3 of PD/A is used. It was published in October 2012 under the name in the ISO 19005-3:2012.

PDF/A has been specifically developed for the long-term storage. Thus it is ensured by PDF/A, that the pictorial image of the invoice can be permanently visualized.

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What are the components of a ZUGFeRD document?

A ZUGFeRD statement consists of a pictorial presentation of the invoice. This is displayed in a PDF/A-3-Datei. Moreover, it contains the billing informations as structured and machine-evaluable data set. This is stored in an XML file, which in turn is embedded as an attachment in the PDF file. ZUGFeRD relies on the use of open standards such as XML (W3C), the Cross Industry Invoice by UN/CEFACT and the acts building upon Message User Guide (MUG) of CEN, the European standardization organization.

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In a ZUGFeRD bill are always PDF and XML file necessary? Or would be just to the use of the XML file ZUGFeRD compliant?

A ZUGFeRD statement always consists of a PDF file with embedded XML file. Users should be able to read the bill without expensive tools or visualization tools, if they are not interested in the processing of structured data particular. It is also provided a unique relationship between image and data by embedding the XML in the PDF file safely. The aim of the ZUGFeRD format is to allow voting without bilateral exchange of electronic invoices. The receiver decides whether to process the PDF or XML file. The transmitter always sends both. More on bilateral agreements see also FAQ "Are agreements between two parties (bilateral agreement between receiver and transmitter) in the concept of ZUGFeRD format necessary?"

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Are agreements between two parties (bilateral agreement between receiver and transmitter) in the concept of ZUGFeRD format necessary?

No. Where bilateral agreements between two or more parties made, the resulting format is no longer ZUGFeRD compliant. The ZUGFeRD format enables the electronic exchange of invoices, without prior consultation, so that collusion in ZUGFeRD concept are not provided.

Of course, individual agreements between two parties are possible and as a basis for consultation can be used the ZUGFeRD format. As already described, the resulting formatting but is no longer compliant with the ZUGFeRD format.

In the future it should be possible to extend ZUGFeRD for certain sectors and interest groups. So there can be, for example, be an extention of ZUGFeRD for trade or the automotive industry. To enable this the Forum electronic invoices will define a concept for the integration of such extensions in ZUGFeRD. To what extent then this format is still considered ZUGFeRD format is still to be clarified.

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Is this ZUGFeRD format across the EU and international use?

The ZUGFeRD format is based on the work developed by the European standardization committee CEN standards Cross Industry Invoice (CII) and Message User Guides (MUG). This laid the foundation for the establishment of ZUGFeRD is given as a common European format.

In the European body for electronic invoicing, the European Multi Stakeholder Forum on the currently working Electronic Invoicing is working on a recommendation from a pan-European approach. The European Multi Stakeholder Forum on Electronic Invoicing reports directly to the EU Commission. Through the direct involvement of the Forum electronic invoice Germany (Ferd) in the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum will represent the interests of ZUGFeRD there.

At present the proliferation of ZUGFeRD especially in German-speaking countries will be forced, but can also be used by companies outside the German-speaking world. For this use It is important, that a ZUGFeRD bill contains a human-readable image of the invoice in order not to hinder the spread of ZUGFeRD.

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Must ZUGFeRD invoices are always sent by e-mail?

No. ZUGFeRD is a format that the structure and content of an accounting file describes. It says nothing about transmission routes. Thus ZUGFeRD calculations can  be exchanged between the transmitter and receiver by any route
(for example by e-mail, De-Mail service, download, FTP).

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What is authentic: PDF and / or XML?

Whether the invoice copy (PDF file) or the structured accounting data (XML file) represent the "authentic" information depends on your testing process an incoming invoice.

If you use the invoice image to check the invoice, then the invoice image is a mandatory component and must be kept accordingly.

If you use only the present structured XML data, the XML file is the mandatory accounting document for you.

If you use both the invoice image (PDF file) and the structured data (XML file) in the form that you check the bill technically based on the image, but now with the structured data, the following applies:

1 voucher function and thus the bill, the document by which the delivery and performance check (in the above example so the invoice image).

2 When posting the data, the same care must be applied as before. That is, already established appropriate testing mechanisms, such as Balance between payment and invoice amount will remain.

A detailed description of the tax assessment of ZUGFeRD, please visit: upload / ZUGFeRD-Tax-Anmerkungen.pdf

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How must I archive an electronic invoice?

Invoices must be stored in the format in which they were received. The ZUGFeRD-invoice will be sent as a PDF file with XML attachment and thus as an electronic invoice. Therefore, you must ZUGFeRD bills in the future, like all electronic invoices, digital archive.

Questions and answers about electronic invoice can be found here.

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What does the abbreviation "ZUGFeRD"?

ZUGFeRD stands as shorthand for "Central User Guide Forum electronic invoice Germany". The new format for the electronic exchange of invoices ZUGFeRD should in future nationwide complement the existing EDI standards and replace paper-based processes.

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