In 2019, the Portuguese government enacted Law Decree n. 28/2019, introducing a full reform of the rules concerning the issuance, processing and archiving of invoices, with the main goals of implementing electronic invoicing, simplifying compliance for taxpayers and reducing the VAT gap.

The expanded scope of those obliged to use a billing software certified by the Portuguese Tax Authority, the inclusion of a QR code and a sequential unique number code (ATCUD – código único de documento) and the stricter integrity and authenticity requirements when issuing invoices and other relevant fiscal documents were some of the most impactful mandates introduced by this law.

However, many taxpayers struggled to comply with the new requirements. As such, the tax authority has delayed the launch of different components of the Decree, and some of them remain to be implemented.

In a recent Ministerial Decision from 26 May 2022, the goal line for implementing the stricter integrity and authenticity requirement, this article’s focal point, has been moved yet again, now to 1 January 2023.

The stricter integrity and authenticity requirement

The Decree from 2019 established that in order to guarantee the requirements of authenticity and integrity of electronic invoices and other relevant fiscal documents have been met (per article 233 of the EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC), taxpayers must use a qualified electronic signature, a qualified electronic seal (QES) or an electronic data exchange system (EDI) with security measures per the European Model EDI Agreement. This change is important as it limits the choice of compliance methods generally recognised within the EU to one between only QES and EDI.

To achieve this goal, the Decree determined that taxpayers would only be able to use previously accepted advanced electronic signatures or seals (the lower level of signature security) until 31 December 2020. After that, all invoices would be required to incorporate a qualified signature or seal or be issued through EDI.

When is the new deadline?

The original deadline for implementing the stricter integrity and authenticity requirements has been postponed many times. The first delay was ordained through Despacho n. 437/2020-XXII of 9 November 2020 of the State Secretary for Fiscal Matters (SEAF – Secretário de Estado dos Assuntos Fiscais). According to this, PDF invoices without a QES would be accepted until 31 March 2021 and considered electronic invoices for all fiscal purposes.

Since then, the mandate has been postponed four additional times, with the last one taking place on 26 May 2022, by Despacho n. 49/2022-XXIII of the SEAF. According to this act, PDF invoices with no specific security measures must be recognised as electronic invoices for fiscal effects until 31 December 2022, instead of the previously established date, 30 June 2022.

Therefore, from 1 January 2023, taxpayers covered by Law Decree n. 28/2019 must comply with the requirement to ensure authenticity and integrity either by applying a Qualified Electronic Signature/Seal or by using “EDI by-the-book” (EDI under the European Model EDI Agreement).

Additional upcoming requirements

Besides the stricter authenticity and integrity requirement, taxpayers must be ready to comply with additional new invoicing mandates underway in Portugal. On 1 July 2022, it will be required to only use structured electronic invoices in CIUS-PT format for B2G transactions. The B2G mandatory e-invoicing is already under implementation through a phased roll-out. It is set to be finalised and become compulsory for small and medium companies and microenterprises on 1 July 2022. Furthermore, the inclusion of the ATCUD code on invoices and other fiscal relevant documents, which has also been previously postponed, is set to become mandatory on 1 January 2023.

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