The drive towards massive widespread use of e-Invoicing in Colombia continues to make headway. The National Tax and Customs Office (DIAN) expects uptake of this technology among the country's taxpayers to be completed in 2019. Today, we interview Cristian Uribe, Andean region Country Manager from EDICOM, who describes the current state of the initiative and what the new features will be.
DIAN has been working on this massive e-Invoicing project since 2015. What will be the next step in rollout of the system?
Recently, the DIAN issued the list of authorized e-Invoicing service providers, with EDICOM amongst them. This certification from the tax agency gives a new impetus to massification, which is expected in 2019. After successfully completing the pilot trials during 2016, companies now have the option of voluntarily implementing this new electronic billing model. Soon, we shall see how e-Invoicing in Colombia is gradually spreading, in line with the economic and technological level of the country's businesses.
The main requirement for achieving this accreditation was being an e-Invoicing issuerand EDICOM was already doing so as of January 2017. Moreover, we have taken part in the e-invoicing pilot project in Colombia from the outset. In order to become an e-invoicing provider we have passed all the technological and functional tests set by the DIAN, following criteria such as having the current Single Tax Registry (RUC) in force, being responsible for income tax, belonging to the common regime and holding ISO 27001 accreditation on information security management systems. EDICOM’s international presence also provides us with knowledge and extensive experience to be able to approach e-Invoicing projects in any country, as we already do in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and others.
What are the features of the new e-invoicing model?
The characteristics of the Colombian model are similar to those of Mexico, Chile or Peru. First, they require a consecutive numbering system authorized by the DIAN to guarantee the uniqueness of the invoice. Second, they must include the Single Electronic Invoicing Code or CUFE and use the standard XML generation electronic format stipulated by the regulations. And finally, each invoice must be electronically signed to ensure document integrity and authenticity.
In addition to invoices, this massification process also includes other electronic documents …
Indeed. Decree 2242 of 2015 regulates the following documents: invoices, credit notes, debit notes and receipt acknowledgments. In the future, further documents such as referral guides or certificates of withholding will be added.
The aim is to encourage practices that allow automation of the exchange of business documents between companies, as in other countries with more advanced e-Invoicing systems.
Once the DIAN publishes the list of the first taxpayers required to issue e-Invoicing, what process should these companies carry out?
The first thing is to set deadlines for the rollout process. In accordance with the provisions of article 10 of Decree 2242 of 2015, the DIAN resolutions for taxpayers required to bill electronically shall come into force within a period of no more than three months after publication in the Official Gazette.
These companies must register with the DIAN and request the trial numeration and technical key. Then, they will have to adapt their internal processes to the electronic system and run tests between their ERP and the supplier. Finally, they must apply for their production and contingency numbers.
If companies decide to sign up for e-Invoicing voluntarily, what is the process to follow?
In these cases, they need to apply to the DIAN, which then issues a resolution authorizing the company to bill electronically. From the start of the process, the period to perform the necessary trials for qualification in the service provided by the DIAN is three months. Once these trials are completed, users must begin billing electronically within the next three months.
What benefits will massive widespread use of e-invoicing bring for Colombia?
As occurred in other Latin American countries that are more advanced in the use of e-invoicing, this system entails several benefits, generally related with enhanced fiscal control and greater optimization of information management for businesses. To be a little more specific, we could cite the following advantages: reduced time in document processing, removing the need for paper and being environmentally friendly, no more risk of losing physical documents, greater efficiency in administrative processes (now integrated with the ERP), traceability and security in transactions, shorter collection times, saving space and time in document storage, the possibility of consulting documents exchanged online… In short, companies will see simplification of their tax returns and an optimization of their efforts that will involve economic cost savings.
What else would you say to taxpayers interested in rolling out e-Invoicing?
We encourage them to start e-Invoicing as soon as possible, rather than waiting until it becomes mandatory. If they implement e-invoicing voluntarily as early adopters, they will have time to review the impact of the new system on their internal processes. In this way, they will be able to avoid and resolve any problems that might arise in their workflows. In addition, on our side, EDICOM will accompany you throughout the entire process to ensure that we always comply with the requirements and obligations of the electronic process. The e-Invoicing model is well advanced in several countries, especially in Latin America, and with it many companies have been also able to centralize the issuance of e-Invoicing to any other country in the world.