e-invoicing to be made compulsory in Italy

e-invoicing to be made compulsory in Italy

Not announced formally and officially yet but it seems that the decree is written. Italy will introduce mandatory electronic invoicing in 2014. The formal announcement is expected soon.

When Brazil and Mexico embarked on their compulsory electronic invoicing agenda, I was not alone in wondering whether their plans were a little too ambitious. A few years on and I still wonder whether they’re a bit too ambitious but if there’s one thing we’ve learned, those plans aren’t changing. Mandatory e-invoicing is embedded in Latin America and the authorities are demonstrating the resolve and tenacity required to drive this significant change through. And this is what comes to mind when I heard the news that Italy is now embarking on a plan to eliminate paper invoices in public sector by 2015. Is it too ambitious for Italy or is there too much at stake to let it fail?

Purchasing Insight logoAccording to Marcus Hornburg, OB10’s compliance guru, the Italian government have performed an e-invoicing U-turn. From being skeptical, wary and hesitant about EU electronic invoicing policy, they’ve embraced the idea and will be mandating the use of digitally signed XML electronic invoices to public sector from 2014 with plans to eliminate traditional invoices by the following year. The details are sketchy at the moment, the Italian Post Office will play some kind of role, but all will become clear over the coming weeks as more details emerge.

So will Italy’s plans go the way of Spain’s – start ambitious and then melt in the heat of the realization that, actually this is pretty complex? Or will they go the way of the Brazilians and Mexicans who, despite enormous cultural, technical and change management hurdles, have persisted?

For a country like Italy whose business processes are, shall we say, “embedded in tradition”, the introduction of stringent regulations will be far from straight forward to implement. A step too far? Perhaps, but in the current European economic environment and the laser focus on where and how taxpayers’ money is being spent, there needs to be a zero tolerance approach to inefficiencies and accounting discrepancies. Italy will struggle to make it a success – but they can’t afford to fail.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin