ZUGFeRD is the data model for hybrid electronic invoices published on 25th June 2014 as version 1.0 under the umbrella of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wirtschaftliche Verwaltung (AWV) e.V.. The aim of the ZUGFeRD format is to promote the equality of electronic invoice and the invoice on paper, thus promoting overall electronic data exchange. In contrast to paper invoicing, electronic data exchange formats often require bilateral agreements. Standardization organizations for example of the automotive or consumer goods sector are therefore recommending guidelines for their members. Nonetheless, the members have to agree on certain aspects (profiles) in practice. Therefore, the exchange of electronic invoices with such EDI procedures is always driven by the recipient. If a sender would simply send an EDI file to one of his customers, the customer would probably not even understand that he had just received an invoice.

Best of both worlds

ZUGFeRD tries to solve this dilemma by the use of a hybrid format. It combines structured data (readable for the computer) with a visual representation (readable for humans). Thus, such a format can also be used on the front side first. The human-readable component ensures that each recipient can recognize that they have received an invoice. Even if he has not yet been able to process the structured data with his computer system.

ZUGFeRD is based on international standards

The base of ZUGFeRD is the UN/CEFACT standard of the Cross Industry Invoice. By choosing this global standard, the structured data can be sent across industries and countries. The ISO standard PDF/A-3 is used as an envelope around the structured data. This file provides a technically unique way to embed the structured data into a PDF file. More than 30 associations, universities and public administrations were involved in the development of ZUGFeRD. These include, for example, the automotive industry, the consumer goods sector, the banking sector, healthcare, the software industry, insurance companies, tax auditors, etc.

ZUGFeRD is divided into three profiles: ZUGFeRD EXTENDED, ZUGFeRD COMFORT, and ZUGFeRD BASIC. While the BASIC profile essentially covers the requirements of COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2010/45/EU, COMFORT contains the best practice requirements for the automated examination and processing of an invoice. The most comprehensive profile is the EXTENDED profile. It provides additional, cross-sectoral requirements, e.g. the stating different goods receivers at the position level.

Recommendations for application and industry profiles

The following table provides an overview of guidelines and industry profiles for ZUGFeRD 1.0

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