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Invoice signature

* The 'tax value' notion relates to French standards and can only be applied to French organizations. The European Union, via the article 233 subparagraph 1.a of the directive 2006/112/CE, only requires an advanced signature.

There are numerous solutions that can be used to sign and/or timestamp invoices and it can be difficult to choose the one that will meet your needs and procedures. Client certificate? Server certificate? RGS? eIDAS? Hosted?

Some definitions

** Please note the we are only referring to sales invoices in this article.

Paper invoice: it is the original invoice with tax value the most often used in the invoicing processes.

Digitized invoice: it is a digital version of the paper invoice. A digitized invoice must be re-materialized (printed) at the end of the invoicing process, usually by the customer. In this case the paper invoice is document with the tax value.

Original invoice: it can be the paper invoice or the digitized invoice under certain conditions. An invoice must be an original if it is intended to be sent by electronic means.

Electronic invoice: it is an original invoice with tax value. It replaces the paper invoice. To be considered as such, the e-invoice must be created, sent and archived in electronic format. The whole process has to be digital.

Make the distinction between an e-invoice and a digitally-sent invoice
Only an original invoice can be sent by digital means (eIDAS advanced or qualified signature). A signed invoice can then replace a paper one if the recipient allows it. But a digital transmission does not exempt you from needing a paper format of your invoices. The recipient will mostly have to re-materialize it (print it) except if its organization accounting department abide by the digital invoicing standards (one needs to check the certificate and the PDF signature).

Identifying the needs

It is essential to know what the needs are: what is the signature for? What will become of the documents you want to sign?

In a nutshell

Here is a guide about invoices signature:

RGS** / eIDAS qualified signature

A PDF signed and timestamped get a "tax value".
Can be used to issue digital invoices.

Certigna Signature Stamp RGS**data sheet learn more Certigna Timestamping Stamp RGS**data sheet learn more

RGS* signature

A PDF signed and timestamped get a "legal value".
Can be used to digitally store invoices that have been issued or received in paper format.

Certigna Signature Stamp RGS*data sheet buy Certigna Timestamping Stamp RGS*data sheet buy

eIDAS advanced signature

A signed PDF becomes an original document.

TBS X509 Sign & Logindata sheet buy

unsigned PDF

Au unsigned PDF is a mere copy.
The document is not an original.

Experience feedback regarding e-invoicing

A few month ago we dematerialised the customer accounting. Discover why and how a SME switched to e-invoicing by reading our case study (FR).

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