January 18th, 2021

In France, it is mandatory to send e-invoices to public authorities. For government suppliers, the obligation took place in phases based on company size. Below are the dates in which suppliers of varying sizes had to be connected to the French e-invoicing portal, Chorus Pro:

January 2017: Mandatory for large companies (more than 5,000 employees)
January 2018: Mandatory for medium-sized companies (250 to 5,000 employees)
January 2019: Mandatory for small businesses (10 to 250 employees)
January 2020: Mandatory for very small businesses (less than 10 employees)

The dates listed above demonstrate that France has more than met the broader European Union deadline for the adoption of e-invoicing as stated in the EU e-invoicing Directive 2014/55/EU. And now that business-to-government (B2G) deadlines have been met in France, the focus is now shifting to the private sector. In the coming years, you can expect that business-to-business (B2B) e-invoicing will also become mandatory. So if you do business with companies in this country, it is wise to stay up to date with new obligations and prepare for change.

What is Chorus Pro?

If you’re new to e-invoicing practices in France, it’s good to first understand how government agencies and their suppliers get the job done.

Chorus Pro became the official electronic invoicing platform for the French government in 2017. Chorus Pro is the digital platform in which suppliers to the French government are required to submit their invoices. The platform is connected to the financial information system of the French state, Chorus.

The Impact

To make a broader case for the use of Chorus Pro, it had to bring three advantages:

1. Improve on-time payments by speeding up the shipping process of invoices
2. Reduce printing and shipping costs
3. Increase trust in public providers by ensuring greater transparency by monitoring users' oversight of the payment process in real time

Chorus Pro did just that, and the benefits of e-invoicing quickly became clear. In fact, as of January 2021, more than 100 million invoices have been exchanged via Chorus Pro. The platform is accessible to any service provider, as well as all private and public organizations through EDI or API connection. For small businesses and sole traders with less than 1,000 invoices per month, it even boasts a web portal where users can upload invoices as PDF files. On the other hand, companies with more than 1,000 invoices per month must send e-invoices via EDI or API connection.

Conveniently, the platform also has a chatbot (ClaudIA) that answers users' questions, and a  "Chorus Pro Community"  that shares information, educates users, and exchanges best practices on e-invoicing.

French E-Invoicing Standards

The accepted standards for e-invoicing in France are as follows: XML (INVOICE UBL V2 and UN/CEFACT CII (CCTS/NDR v3.0)), Peppol BIS v.3, and Factur-X. Factur-X is an e-invoicing format specific to France that provides companies and government agencies with fast, secure, and simple invoice communication. It is the same format as the German ZUGFeRD 2.1 invoice, and consists of both a PDF file and an embedded XML file.

After submitting the invoice to Chorus Pro in accordance with one of the standards listed above, the e-invoice can then be sent to a SIRET number for direct debit. The SIRET number is a unique identification number that stands for a specific government agency (government, ministry, or municipality) or company. It provides quick and secure payment.

Upcoming: B2B E-Invoicing Obligation

The AIFE (Agence pour l'informatique financière de l'Etat) and the DGFIP (Direction Générale des Finances Publiques) launched an experiment for electronic invoicing between companies on January 17th, 2020. The aim of the experiment was to test whether or not the Chorus Pro platform is suitable for business-to-business (B2B) e-invoicing.

Until now, the platform was only intended for B2G use. However, a November 2020 amendment in combination with the 2020 Financing Act 2020 suggest that it will be mandatory for companies involved in B2B transactions to accept electronic invoices from 2023 onwards. For these businesses, the obligation to send e-invoices will be introduced gradually: January  2023 for large companies, January 2024 for medium-sized enterprises, and January 2025 for small and very small businesses.

TIE Kinetix supports both B2G and B2B e-invoicing requirements in France, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.