In line with the obligations set by the European Directive 2014/55 on electronic invoicing in public procurement, Belgium introduced a mandate for public entities to receive and process electronic invoices in 2019.
For Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia the initiative went beyond the bare minimum of the EU Directive requirements and introduced obligations to also issue e-invoices for suppliers to public sector entities in these regions.
With recent legal changes, Belgium is now preparing to extend the e-invoicing obligation to even more businesses by introducing mandatory e-invoicing in the B2B sector.
E-invoicing in public procurement
On 31 March 2022, the Belgian Official Gazette published the Royal Decree of 9 March 2022, which intends to expand the obligation to issue electronic invoices to all suppliers of public institutions in the context of public contracts and concession contracts.
As previously mentioned, such obligation was already present in multiple regions including Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia, however, now the mandate covers suppliers of public bodies in all regions. The dates concerning issuing electronic invoices in the public contracts, based on their value are:
- 1 October 2022: e-invoices for public contracts equal to or greater than the European threshold of €214,000 must be issued six months after the publication of the decree in the Belgian Official Gazette and on the first day of each month.
- 1 April 2023: e-invoices for public contracts equal to or greater than €30,000 must be issued 12 months after the publication of the decree in the Belgian Official Gazette, and on the first day of each month.
- 1 October 2023: e-invoices for public contracts less than €30,000 must be issued 18 months after the publication of the decree in the Belgian Official Gazette and on the first day of each month.
Only public contracts and concessions, which estimated value is less or equal to €3,000 excluding VAT are exempt.
E-invoicing in the private sector
As reported previously, Belgian authorities have indicated the ambition to move beyond B2G e-invoicing. On 11 May 2022, the Belgium Chamber of Representatives published a draft law amending the law of 2 August 2002 on combating late payment in commercial transactions, as last amended by the law of 28 May 2019, with the aim to implement electronic invoicing between private companies (B2B).
The rationale behind the proposal is the need to enable companies to invest in electronic invoicing, after already supporting the digitalization of invoicing in the B2G sector. The benefits that will follow are a much faster invoicing process, which is more secure and minimises the risk of errors and missing data.
Moreover, the chances of fraud will decrease while privacy protection increases, without the need for human intervention in the invoicing process.
Lastly, the environmental aspect concerning less paper consumption is highlighted. In terms of financial gain, as calculated by the Administrative Simplification Service (DAV), full digitalization of invoices in Belgium could reduce the administrative burden by €3.37 billion.
Based on the draft law, companies (with the exception of micro-enterprises) will be obliged to send their invoices in structured electronic form (in line with the European standard for electronic invoicing EN 16931-1:2017 and CEN/TS 16931-2:2017) as well as receive and process invoices electronically.
Nothing in the draft law describes the involvement of a centralised clearance platform, or the reporting of e-invoice data to the tax authorities. At this time, there is therefore no formal indication that the proposed mandate would be designed as a Continuous Transactions Control (CTC) e-invoicing system, however it is possible that the system will evolve to connect with PEPPOL.
The law will come into effect on 1 January 2025 regarding SMEs, thereby ensuring that companies have adequate time to prepare for the transition. If it comes to large enterprises, it is expected that mandatory e-invoicing will be present from January 2024. Originally the date concerning large taxpayers was July 2023, and small taxpayers from 2024, therefore those dates will most likely be postponed.