ZUGFeRD electronic invoices in PDF/A format

Electronic invoices are increasingly common. Large companies have been using this method of billing for some years now. But the potential in terms of time and cost savings is attracting an increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises as well.

What is ZUGFeRD?

ZUGFeRD is the German acronym for the Central User Guidelines of the Forum for Electronic Billing in Germany (Zentraler User Guide des Forums elektronische Rechnungen Deutschland).

ZUGFeRD is a file format for the standardization of electronic invoices. It combines the advantages of XML and PDF formats in a single file. The forum for electronic invoices in Germany has worked together with leading companies across a wide range of industries to create a standard designed to ensure the smooth operation of electronic billing.

The PDF/A format was specifically designed for long-term archiving. Since 2005, PDF/A has been published and developed as a non-proprietary ISO standard. ZUGFeRD is based on PDF/A‑3, part 3 of the standard. The core of PDF/A-3 is the capability to embed XML data. ZUGFeRD thus makes it easy to fulfill the dual requirements of PDF/A for optimal readability by people and XML for optimal readability by machine.

ZUGFeRD also supports the Cross Industry Invoice (CII) and Message User Guides (MUG) standards of the European Committee for Standardization CEN. This ensures that the format can be used across Europe and internationally.

Where is ZUGFeRD used and when does it make sense?

Use of the standard is clearly limited. It is used exclusively for the electronic exchange of invoices.

What do you have to keep in mind?

  • Electronic invoices are usually subject to retention requirements. Like other business-related electronic documents, they must be digitally archived
  • To create ZUGFeRD-conform invoices, use only software that complies with the requisite standards
  • Before archiving, use a suitable validator to check whether the electronic invoice complies with the standards

How does PDF Tools AG support ZUGFeRD?

PDF Tools AG offers products for the creation and inspection of ZUGFeRD-conform documents.


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