Of the European Member States, Italy is one of the most committed to innovation and the digital transformation of its public administration. It was one of the first EU countries to introduce electronic invoicing and is currently the only one that requires its use in both the public and private sectors. This is unusual in the European legal context, since current EU legislation only requires electronic invoicing in the B2G sector. Italy obtained approval from the European Parliament to extend this requirement to the private sector.
As a result of e-invoicing expansion, the system is constantly evolving to include improvements and changes that will bring about greater government digitalization.
Aiming to promote cross-border trade, the European Union has regulated B2G e-invoicing since 2014, when it published Directive 2014/55/EU "On electronic invoicing in public procurement". The Directive establishes that all public administrations must be capable of managing electronic invoices. To comply, Member States transposed the legislation into national law.
The Italian Republic transposed the rule with Decree No. 148/2018, but the use of electronic invoices in the region vastly predates the EU legislation. The first Italian law concerning their use dates to 2007 (Article 1, paragraphs 209-213, of Law 24 December 2007, n. 244), making Italy a pioneer of electronic auditing.
e-Procurement in the Public Health Sector
The latest Italian e-government project is the Nodo Smistamento Ordini (NSO), for the exchange of electronic orders between SSN health providers and their suppliers.
B2B/B2C Electronic Invoicing
As in the public sector, e-invoicing between private companies is also subject to European legislation – in this case, Directive 2010/45/EU "On the common system of value added tax." It amends Directive 2006/112/EC, which was created to improve the functioning of the internal market and to promote interoperability between Member States.
The Directive establishes that the use of an electronic invoice is subject to the recipient’s approval. Therefore, Italy needed to apply for an exception from the European Council to mandate B2B e-invoicing without requiring recipients’ approval.
The exception was granted in 2018 with Implementation Decision (EU) 2018/593, allowing the Italian Government to make B2B electronic invoicing obligatory.
In the B2C (Business to Consumer) sphere, businesses are required to issue an electronic invoice upon request of the private consumer.
Foreign Electronic Invoices – Esterometro
The system for declaring foreign invoices in Italy is called "Esterometro." Foreign invoices received and sent by Italian companies must be declared to the Agenzia delle Entrate with the Trasmissione Dati Fatture (TDF) document.
However, this system is scheduled to be replaced in January 2022. From then on, VAT data will be declared in the electronic invoice format and transmitted to the "Sistema di Interscambio."
Sistema di Interscambio (SdI)
The Italian invoicing system, called Sistema di Interscambio (SdI), is managed by the Agenzia Delle Entrate, the Italian tax authority.
The SdI follows a centralized e-invoicing clearance model. All electronic invoices (B2B, B2C and B2G) must be sent to the central government platform for approval and delivery to their recipients.
Characteristics of the Italian Electronic Invoice – FatturaPA
The Italian e-invoice, called the FatturaPA, is regulated by Provision 30/04/2018, its technical annex, and subsequent updates.
Format of the FatturaPA
The FatturaPA follows an XML format defined by the Italian tax authority.
Storage of electronic documents is regulated according to the Italian Conservazione Elettronica/Sostitutiva rules. All electronic invoices (B2B, B2C and B2G) must be preserved for 10 years, guaranteeing their integrity, authenticity, and legibility over time with the application of electronic signatures and electronic time stamps.
Italy – A Pioneer in the Implementation of B2B Electronic Invoicing
Its commitment to e-invoicing has brought great benefits to the Italian government. The latest report from the European Commission, called, "Updated Benefits Analysis on the Implementation of Directive 2014/55/EU," points out that in 2019, 1.1 billion Euros were saved in the public sector alone.
In the first year of widespread electronic invoicing use, 3.5 billion Euros were added to the state coffers. The positive results from tax digitalization with electronic invoicing have served as an inspiration for other countries. Nations like France, Albania, and Poland have begun to develop their own electronic invoicing systems imitating the Italian SdI model.