The validity of an electronic invoice depends on the authenticity of its origin and the integrity of its content. To ensure this security, companies can use two processes: the qualified electronic signature and the qualified electronic seal.
Electronic invoices: major changes ahead
From July 1, 2024, companies will be obliged to accept electronic invoices. Themandatory issue of electronic invoices will be phased in gradually:
- July 1, 2024 for large companies,
- January 1, 2025 for mid-sized companies,
- January 1, 2026 for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses.
In addition to these new obligations, invoices now have to include new information:
- SIREN number,
- The delivery address (if different from the customer's address),
- Information specifying whether the transactions shown on the invoice consist exclusively of supplies of goods or services, or both,
- Payment of tax based on debits (if this option has been selected by the service provider).
Secure electronic invoicing
There are two ways for companies to ensure that their electronic invoices are secure:
- Qualified electronic signature,
- Qualified electronic seal.
Qualified electronic signatures
The qualified electronic signature ensures the identity of the signatory via a qualified electronic signature certificate, and the security of the data contained in the document via the use of a qualified electronic signature creation device. The qualified electronic signature certificate is based on a process that meets requirements guaranteeing the validity of the signature and the identity of the signatory (name, pseudonym or registration number). Identity is verified during a face-to-face meeting with a qualified agent, or on presentation of a pre-established electronic identity. The device used to create qualified electronic signatures combines software and hardware to create an electronic signature, while guaranteeing the integrity, confidentiality and security of the signature.
This process has the advantage of being considered equivalent to a handwritten signature recognized in all European Union member states.
The qualified electronic seal
The qualified electronic stamp is used by legal entities to guarantee the authenticity of the origin, integrity of content and legibility of their invoices. It certifies that the creator of the stamp is the originator of the document.
So, unlike the qualified electronic signature, the qualified electronic seal can be used by legal entities as an electronic stamp to certify the integrity and authenticity of data.