Brazil is known for its highly complex continuous transaction controls (CTC) e-invoicing system. As well as keeping up with daily legislative changes in its 26 states and the Federal District, the country has over 5,000 municipalities with different standards for e-invoicing.
The tax levied on consumption of services (ISSQN – Imposto Sobre Serviços de Qualquer Natureza) lies under the competence of the municipalities. Each municipality has authority over the format and technical standard of the services e-invoice (NFS-e – nota fiscal de serviço eletrônica). This poses a significant compliance challenge, as e-invoicing is mandatory for nearly all taxpayers in the country.
However, important steps have been taken towards changing this scenario. An agreement (Convênio NFS-e) recently signed by the Brazilian Federal Revenue Agency (RFB), the National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM), and other relevant entities, has established the National System of the NFS-e with a countrywide unified standard for the services e-invoice.
The National System of the NFS-e (SNNFS-e)
The SNNFS-e introduces a unified standard layout for the issuance of the NFS-e, as well as a national repository of all e-documents generated within the system. Adhesion to the system is voluntary for municipalities. Since the bill proposed to regulate this issue (PLP 521/2018) has been static in Congress since 2019, the agreement was designed to allow municipalities to voluntarily adopt the national standard, which then becomes mandatory for taxpayers.
The system will allow issuance of the NFS-e in a national standard, through the web portal, mobile app or API (application programming interface). It also creates the National Data Environment (ADN), the NFS-e unified repository.
The SNNFS-e offers several service modules and municipalities can choose which ones to adopt. The ADN is the only mandatory module, as it ensures the integrity and availability of information contained in the documents issued is in the unified standard. Additionally, the ADN allows adhering municipalities to distribute issued NFS-e among themselves and taxpayers.
Once the agreement is signed, the municipality must activate the system within a certain deadline, which hasn’t been established. Activation involves configuring system parameters and amending municipal legislation to reflect the national system requirements. Only after complete activation will taxpayers be able to issue invoices based on the unified standard.
Technical documentation of the NFS-e has also been released, but these are not the definitive specifications, which are still to be approved by the National Standard Electronic Service Invoice Management Committee (CGNFS).
What this means for businesses
The NFS-e national standard provides substantial simplification of taxpayers’ e-invoicing obligations. With a standard layout, compliance with multiple formats can be drastically reduced. The document format for issuance of the standard NFS-e is XML and it must be digitally signed.
Another benefit is that one of the available modules allows taxpayers to pay the ISSQN owed in several municipalities at once, using one single document (Guia Única de Recolhimento) issued by the system.
Although municipalities may choose to keep their current NFS-e issuance system, they must still adhere to the communication deadlines, layout, and security standards of the national NFS-e. They must also ensure transmission of all issued documents to the national data environment. This ensures that taxpayers will only be required to issue the NFS-e in one standard layout.
What’s next for e-invoicing in Brazil?
The first phase of production started on 23 July 2022 with five pilot municipalities. Transmission will be available through different methods, with gradual implementation. According to the initial implementation schedule of the National Confederation of Municipalities, API transmission is set to happen from mid-October 2022 or later, depending on the stability of the other transmission methods. Further development of this schedule can be expected in the coming months.
São Paulo, Salvador, and Florianópolis are among the many municipalities that have already signed the agreement. The success of this national NFS-e standard relies on significant adoption by municipalities, so taxpayers must ready themselves to comply as this takes place across the country.
Need to ensure compliance with the latest e-invoicing requirements? Get in touch with our tax experts.