Electronic invoices will be mandatory in the B2B sector in future. Corresponding VAT regulations are contained in the Growth Opportunities Act, which was published in the Federal Law Gazette on 27 March 2024.

With an e-invoice, invoice information is transmitted electronically, received automatically and processed further. This enables end-to-end digital processing from the creation of the invoice to the payment of the invoice amounts.

Unlike a paper invoice or an image file such as a PDF, an e-invoice presents invoice content in a structured, machine-readable data record. This ensures that invoices issued in this form by the invoice issuer are

– transmitted electronically,

– received electronically

– and can be processed and paid automatically and without media discontinuity.


First of all, you have to get used to new definitions of terms (Section 14 (1) sentence 2 et seq. of the new version of the UStG n.F. (new German VAT Act). From 1 January 2025, a distinction will be made between electronic invoices (also referred to as e-invoices in the explanatory memorandum to the law) and other invoices.

An electronic invoice (Section 14 para. 1 sentence 3 UStG n.F.) is an invoice that is issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic format and enables electronic processing. The structured electronic format must comply with the European standard for electronic invoicing and the list of corresponding syntaxes in accordance with Directive 2014/55/EU (and therefore the CEN standard EN 16931).

In deviation from the government draft, the structured electronic format of the electronic invoice can also be agreed between the invoice issuer and invoice recipient. However, it must then be possible to extract the information required under the UStG correctly and completely from the electronic invoice in the agreed format into a format that corresponds to the above-mentioned European standard or is interoperable with it (Section 14 (1) sentence 6 no. 2 UStG n.F.).

The term “other invoice” includes paper invoices, but also invoices that are sent in a different electronic format. A PDF invoice sent by email will therefore no longer be considered an electronic invoice from 2025!


Entrepreneurs are generally authorised to issue an invoice when they perform a delivery or other service. If they provide this service to another entrepreneur, they are even obliged to issue an invoice if the transaction is not tax-exempt in accordance with Section 4 No. 8 – 29 UStG. Entrepreneurs have 6 months (from the date of performance of the service) to issue an invoice. These basic regulations will not change as part of the Growth Opportunities Act, even if the legal text is amended. What is new, however, is the obligation to issue invoices electronically (Section 14 para. 2 sentence 2 no. 1 UStG n.F.).


The obligation to issue an electronic invoice as described above only applies to supplies between businesses (B2B). In addition, the supplier and recipient of the service must be domiciled in Germany (or territories in accordance with Section 1 (3) UStG).

Domicile in Germany requires a registered office, management or a permanent establishment (involved in the relevant transaction) in Germany; if there is no registered office, domicile or habitual residence in Germany is also sufficient (Section 14 para. 2 sentence 3 UStG n.F.). Accordingly, VAT registration in Germany without simultaneous residence would not trigger an obligation to issue electronic invoices.

As things stand at present, the obligation to issue electronic invoices would also affect landlords, for example, who rent to other entrepreneurs on a taxable basis by means of an option (Section 9 UStG). Until now, the rental agreement, for example, could be used as an invoice.


The basic obligation to issue invoices electronically will apply from 1 January 2025. In view of the expected high implementation costs for companies, the legislator has provided for transitional regulations (Section 27 (38) UStG n.F. (in accordance with the mediation result of 21 February 2024, previously (39)) for the years 2025 to 2027.

Until the end of 2026, paper invoices may continue to be sent for B2B transactions carried out in 2025 and 2026. Electronic invoices that do not comply with the new format will also remain permissible during this period, although (as before) the consent of the invoice recipient is required (Section 27 para. 38 no. 1 UStG n.F.).

Paper invoices may continue to be sent for B2B transactions carried out in 2027 until the end of 2027. Electronic invoices that do not comply with the new format will also remain permissible during this period; as in 2025 and 2026 (see above), the consent of the invoice recipient is required for this; however, an additional requirement is that the invoice issuer has a previous year’s turnover (total turnover according to Section 19 para. 3 UStG) of max. 800,000 EUR (Section 27 para. 38 no. 2 UStG n.F.). However, entrepreneurs whose previous year’s turnover (2026) exceeds this limit still have the option of issuing invoices that are transmitted via electronic data interchange (EDI procedure).

From 2028, compliance with the new requirements for e-invoices and their transmission will be mandatory. This will also create the prerequisites for the reporting system envisaged in the coalition agreement and the ViDA measures planned by the EU. A new authorisation for the Federal Ministry of Finance has been included in Section 14 (6) of the new version of the German VAT Act in order to be able to determine the design of the structured electronic format of electronic invoices in more detail by way of ordinance.

The EDI procedure can continue to be used provided that the information required for VAT purposes can be extracted correctly and completely from the invoice format used in such a way that the result corresponds to or is compatible with CEN standard EN 16931.

Period Paper invoice /pdf invoice Electronic invoice
From 01.01.2025

until 31.12.2026

Permitted, only with the consent of the invoice recipient Permitted incl. electronic invoices with other formats (EDI), if recipient agrees
Until 31.12.2027 Not permitted!


if exhibitor has a previous year’s turnover < 800 k€


with the consent of the invoice recipient

Allowed incl. electronic invoices with other formats (EDI), provided the recipient agrees

EDI is permitted regardless of the previous year’s turnover

From 01.01.2028 No longer permitted Electronic invoices are mandatory

EDI is permitted if the reporting system can be operated with it so that the result complies with or is compatible with CEN standard EN 16931


The new e-invoicing obligation generally applies from 1 January 2025. Irrespective of whether a domestic company issues electronic invoices in accordance with the new requirements in structured format (and therefore does not make use of the above-mentioned transitional provisions), domestic business invoice recipients must therefore be able to receive electronic invoices in accordance with the new requirements from 1 January 2025. Unlike previously, electronic invoicing is also not linked to the consent of the invoice recipient; this is only required for electronic invoices that do not comply with the new requirements or in cases where there is no e-invoicing obligation (e.g. for certain tax-free transactions or low-value invoices).

In the case of invoices to end consumers (B2C), their consent remains a prerequisite for electronic invoicing.

Businesses that only provide tax-free services themselves (e.g. landlords of flats, doctors) must also be able to receive and archive electronic invoices in a structured format in future.

Note: The BMF would like to support companies with a free offer for creating and visualising electronic invoices. Such a solution is currently being examined and may be made available to all companies before 1 January 2025. This could be particularly interesting for companies that do not use e-invoicing software (e.g. from DATEV or lexoffice).

The new legal regulation does not contain any specifications regarding the transmission method for electronic invoices. An email inbox should therefore initially be sufficient for receiving an electronic invoice.


Invoicing by credit note (= invoicing by the service recipient) will continue to be permitted, provided this has been agreed in advance (as before). Invoicing by third parties in the name and for the account of the entrepreneur is also still possible.

E-invoicing as described above is not mandatory in every case. For example, invoices for small amounts (Section 33 UStDV) can still be sent as “other invoices” in the aforementioned sense, e.g. in paper form. The same applies to tickets (Section 34 UStDV).


There is no way around electronic invoicing. Electronic invoices are already mandatory in public procurement and more and more companies in the private sector expect their business partners to be able to receive and send electronic invoices. In this respect, the pressure to switch over is growing, regardless of the timetable set by national or EU legislation. As the time and resources required for the changeover can be considerable, depending on the size of the company and the system landscape, it is advisable to implement appropriate project structures promptly. This facilitates timely implementation as soon as the legal and technical details have been finalised.

A postponement of the ViDA measures is also being discussed at European level. According to reports, the introduction of mandatory e-invoicing together with a transactional cross-border reporting system, originally planned for 2028, could be delayed by 2 – 4 years.