Electronic invoices possible without electronic signature?

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    As we had already announced, since 1.1.17 the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) also allows electronic invoices that have not been digitally signed. The relevant notice can be found on the website of the Federal Tax Administration (link).

    Full text:

    The electronic business ECT: No obligation for digital signature

    In the case of transmitted and stored data relevant to the deduction of input tax, the collection of tax, or the collection of tax, proof of origin and unalteredness must be provided, regardless of whether it is on paper or electronically. In the case of electronic data, this proof is provided in particular if the electronic data is digitally signed. A digital signature offers the best protection against undetectable changes. However, due to the principle of freedom of evidence, proof of origin and unchangedness can also be assumed to have been provided if the principles of proper accounting pursuant to Article 957a of the Swiss Code of Obligations have been complied with. The paper invoice and the electronic invoice are equal, because the principles of proper accounting apply to all types of accounting documents.


    The notice is relatively brief and leaves interpretation to the taxpayer. Until now, it was mandatory to provide electronically sent invoices with a recognized electronic signature (according to ElDI-V) (more in-depth information and the answers to this can be found on the tax authority’s website as well as in our practical guide). The communication specifically refers to the regularity of the accounts. In the revised VAT Act, the principle of freedom of evidence was introduced, i.e. the taxpayer can largely choose the means of fulfilling the regularity requirements. This results both from the specific provisions of the ElDI-V, but also from doctrine and practice on retention requirements.

    What does regularity mean in the context of e-billing?

    The requirements remain high. Simply sending PDF invoices will NOT meet the legal requirements as before!

    Art. 122 of the VAT Ordinance still requires:

    Principle (of Art. 70 para. 4 VAT Act)

    1 Data and information transmitted and stored electronically or in a comparable manner that are relevant for the deduction of input tax, the levying of tax or the collection of tax have the same probative value as data and information that can be read without the use of aids, provided that the following conditions are met:

    a. Proof of origin;

    b. Proof of integrity;

    c. Non-repudiation of the shipment.

    2 Special legal provisions requiring the transmission or storage of the aforementioned data and information in a special form remain reserved.

    What are the consequences for the taxpayer?

    In principle, the high requirements of the tax authority remain. If the taxpayer wants to ensure that the requirements of the law are met, he can still use the electronic signature. If it does not want to do this (anymore), then it must ensure by other means that the following requirements are (cumulatively) met:

    • The sender must be clearly identifiable, the integrity of the data must be ensured and the non-repudiation of the dispatch should also be guaranteed,
    • the content of the invoice must meet all the requirements of the MWSTG, MWSTV and ElDI-V,
    • the transaction must be secured in such a way that the regularity requirements are met throughout the entire life cycle (from creation to destruction),
    • the process of invoice generation as well as invoice verification must be traceable at any time.

    E-invoices are vouchers and must be archived in an unchangeable form (like any other voucher) in accordance with the GeBüV. For the tax audit, it must be ensured that the review process has been logged. E-invoices should therefore be archived immediately after signature verification in an unchangeable form. The signature verification log must also be archived.

    If you want to ensure that your e-invoicing solution or offering is in compliance with the law, KRM offers testing and optional certification of your solution or product. For more information, click here.


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