Country examples of e-invoicing


Electronic invoicing in Asia is at a nascent stage. The reasons for this include lack of regulatory framework, lack of established standards, tax impediments, lack of government initiatives, and lack of proper understanding of the overall system among the participants in the trading chain. Volumes of electronic invoices exchanged in Asia come from the business-to-consumer segment, and few technically qualify as "electronic invoices". Business-to-business invoices electronically exchanged are just beginning to emerge. It is difficult to make estimates that have a solid statistical basis due to the lack of official publications. In Asian countries, attention and investments are far more focused on the "paperless trade", i.e., the dematerialization of trade documents, such as bills of lading, accompanying documents, loading, and Customs papers.

There is regular and ongoing processing of standards and regulations related to the adoption of international communication standards. However, at the governmental level it is common practice to develop standards that adapt to the needs and uses of each individual country. The regulatory frameworks are at different stages for different Asian countries and legal aspects are regularly changed. Taxes and fiscal constraints (for example, in China and India) make recourse to electronic invoicing impractical.

Hong Kong and Taiwan

Hong Kong and Taiwan, with high levels of trade liberalization, well-established IT standards, sound legislation systems, comprehensive document standards and strong government support,are at a relatively advanced stage. To strengthen information infrastructure in Hong Kong, the government formulated a digital 21 plan. With the cooperation of 12 other private entities, it funded Tradelink Ltd which provides a service of electronic trade services to about 70,000 trade companies in Hong Kong. Since 2000, the paper-form Customs entry service has ceased, and all declaration documents are submitted electronically. In order to promote the use of e-invoices, the government has increased the lowest cost for submitting paper documents while decreasing the cost for submitting the electronic documents. The present Customs entry application procedures are now 95% electronic. All the documents are provided with authorized electronic authentication service licenses, electronic signatures, and encrypt functions, and can be transmitted freely within the network.

E-invoicing in Taiwan started in 2006 with seven companies registered as users of e-invoices; the figure was 11,275 in 2008. In Taiwan, the uniform invoice is a standardized receipt that is issued by shops and businesses and is a form of enforcement to register and pay for the prevailing value-added tax. With the increasing popularity of online channels for business transactions, e-uniform invoices are also issued. Since 2000, the Taiwanese Ministry of Finance set up an e-invoice platform and an ad hoc group to promote the use of e-invoices. It is responsible for making rules, regulations, and exchange formats concerning the development of e-invoicing system. In 2006 a programme was started to plan and implement an e-invoice integrated service platform to resolve the lack of a standard information exchange between value-added service centres, and setting a standard process and guidelines to effectively shape the e-invoice environment.

Japan and Korea

Countries like Japan and Korea, with good levels of trade liberalization, helpful legislative systems, and comprehensive development plans by the government authorities, are at a medium stage of development. Traditional Japanese business practices are quite different from European Union and U.S. practices. Cash payment is more convenient in Japan. Payment with note (i.e., promissory note) is the most popular mode of payment. This is one reason for the slow adoption of e-invoices. There is a move to implement e-promissory notes in Japan. About 7,700 companies (0.2% of all companies), mainly large companies, have signed up to use e-bills. According to sources from tax accountants, e-invoices or e-documents are very rare in Japan. The Japanese government is enhancing the link between the automatic Customs clearance system for cargo and other related systems, trying to make it a "one-stop" service and enable the system users to go through all the required procedures with the transmission of electronic information.

In Korea the economic development level, compared to other countries, is higher and so is the level of trade liberalization. The application of paperless trading is reflected in business-to-business, business-to-government, and the relevant sections of the trade chain. The legislative environment for paperless trading as well as basic standards for data transmission for commercial purposes has been established. As a result, business and government fully enjoy the benefits and advantages of paperless trading. Participants in trading have realized resource consolidation on electronic bill transmission, and have also realized cross-border paperless trading in some areas. Korea started a Trade EDI project led by the government in 1990. The electronic bills on Customs, trade administration, and international transport have achieved the 100% paperless target.

China and India

China and India, with relatively low levels of trade liberalization and evolving regulatory and legislative systems, are at a developing stage. Currently there are almost no e-invoices in the B2B segment in China or India. Electronic bills are extensively used in the B2C segment, especially in the telecom sector. Even though e-invoicing is not yet very popular in China, paperless trading has been used in a few sectors, including Customs clearance, administration, transportation, etc. Over 25% of documents relating to trade have been transmitted electronically so far since 2008. However, paper bills are still required because the legal status of electronic versions has not been fully recognized. Development of e-invoicing systems is at a very basic stage in India. In many cases paper invoices are converted to PDF and sent via e-mail to customers. Some customers also keep hard copies of invoices along with the electronic version. As a result, digitization in the order, invoicing, and delivery process have significant margins for improvement.

South America

A developing region particularly active in the e-invoicing initiative is South America. Here incentives are provided by market drivers and initiatives in the public and private sectors. In fact the public sector is leading the regulations and standards that are necessary to consistently implement and run electronic invoice applications. The control and visibility of transactions made possible through electronic invoices enable the public sector to enforce its role as tax collector while preventing tax evasion.

The possibility to track e-invoices allows automation of audit controls, while the automation of procurement processes and the consequent internal process simplification supports the public sector in the execution of its role as the largest domestic buyer in each country. It covers 30-60% of GNP in value of goods and services purchased. The national public sectors also play a significant role as environment protectors, for which electronic invoices allow a reduction of the paper waste connected with the estimated 50 billion invoices issued every year in the region. The public sectors of South American countries can also learn good practices on how to apply e-invoices effectively from multinational companies that are doing business there. These international companies also provide inspiration regarding the positive effects of e-invoice adoption to domestic leading companies.

Electronic Invoicing for corporate units in South America requires attention. Implementation plans at the country-level are advisable rather than having a massive multi-country adoption. From a technology standpoint any "one-size-fits-all" solution represents a risky decision since enterprise resource planning (i.e., ERP) solutions do not meet all requirements yet.

Examples of ERP packages are from SAP , Oracle , Microsoft Dynamics, Sage.


In this country the electronic invoice is known as "Nota Fiscal Electrónica"(NFE) and is primarily dealt with by the "Secretaria de Receita Federal" governmental entity. As of September 2009, the country has issued around 368 million electronic invoices.
Although it is still difficult to accurately size the market for e-invoicing adoption in the country, there are potentially 150,000 companies that will implement the NFE in the mid-term. Deadlines for these programmes are mandated by various entities:

  • Government
  • Industry sector obligations
  • State-level implementation plans under national standards


An electronic invoice in this country is called "Comprobante flscal digital" (CFD) and is regulated by the government entity "Servicio de Administracion Tributaria"(SAT). Estimates count 226 million electronic invoices by September 2009 (source: with a market size of only 7,500 out of more than 85,000 companies.
The push to issue electronic invoices in trade business comes from large multinationals such as WaIMart, Pemex, Elektra, Cemex, Mapfre, Home Depot. Useful link:



Chile is the third country analysed for its adoption of electronic invoices, called "Documentos Tributarìos Electronicos" (DTE). The government body managing the introduction of DTEs among companies is the "Servicio de Impuestos Internos" (SII).
As of August 2009 there have been 406 million electronic Invoices issued with only 3,000 companies - out of a potential of 18,000 - exchanging electronic invoices. The central Government is the main entity that requires implementation of the exchange of electronic invoices, although it has not yet made this request mandatory. Useful link: