Billing SAF-T in Portugal: A New Obligation for Non-Residents

Charles Riordan
September 27, 2022

Portugal’s state budget entered into force on 27 June 2022 after protracted negotiations. The budget contained an interesting provision: the obligation to present invoice details to the tax authorities was extended to all VAT-registered taxpayers including non-resident taxpayers, who had long been exempt from this obligation.

VAT-registered non-residents now have three options for communicating invoice details:

  1. Real-time communication via webservice
  2. Monthly submission of the Billing SAF-T file
  3. Manual upload on the tax authority portal

In practice, the Billing SAF-T file is the least onerous option for taxpayers. It is worth discussing the contents of this file, which is submitted separately from Portugal’s Accounting SAF-T file.

What is included in Portugal’s Billing SAF-T file?

Portugal was the first country in the world to adopt SAF-T, and its requirements are based on the original OECD 1.0 schema. The current schema for the Billing SAF-T is set out in Portaria no. 302/2016 consisting of a specified header, master files, and source documents.

Master files can include customer and/or supplier tables, product tables, and tax tables. Source documents can include sales and purchase invoices, documentation on movements of goods, and payment information, as applicable. For the most part, information in the schema is conditionally required, meaning most fields only need to be submitted if the relevant data exists in a taxpayer’s source system.

Importantly, the Billing SAF-T file must be generated by “certified billing systems,” as designated by the tax authorities, a requirement unique to Portugal. As of 2021 this requirement extends to non-resident taxpayers as well, a strong indicator that they would eventually be required to submit Billing SAF-T.

Although the Billing SAF-T only has four sections, it is nevertheless a complex file to generate. Portaria no. 302/2016 containing guidance on fields and definitions is over 100 pages long in the official gazette. Taxpayers must be able to generate required fields within their source systems and must know what conditionally required data they are able to provide.

The latest state budget has adjusted the monthly deadline for submitting Billing SAF-T. The deadline is now the fifth day of the month following the reporting period, previously taxpayers could submit by the twelfth day of the month following the reporting period.

For these reasons, the introduction of this obligation to non-resident taxpayers represents a significant burden. Existing and potential non-resident taxpayers in Portugal should immediately familiarise themselves with the Billing SAF-T requirement and ensure they are using certified billing software to remain compliant.

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Charles Riordan

Charles Riordan is a member of the Regulatory Analysis team at Sovos specializing in international taxation, with a focus on Value Added Tax systems in the European Union. Charles received his J.D. from Boston College Law School in 2013 and is an active member of the Massachusetts Bar.
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