Law 25/2013, of 27 December, on impetus of the electronic invoice and accounting record of invoices in the Public Sector sets out as compulsory the use of electronic billing for any invoices sent to Spanish Public Sector Entities.
The implementation of the electronic invoicing system in the Spanish Public Sector Contracts will become a reality from 15 January 2015. The major objective of Law 25/2013 consists on ensuring a better system to monitor Public Sector payment deadlines in order to protect providers in their trade relations.
All invoices are required to be submitted and transmitted electronically to the National State Administration, Autonomous Communities and Local Communities; Management entities of the Social Security; Autonomous Bodies; Public Universities; Other public entities; and Mutual Funds for accidents at work and occupational illness associated with the Social Security.
In general, from 15 January any supplier should be entitled to send e-invoicing. However Law 25/2013 establishes electronic invoicing as mandatory for the following regulated institutions: joint stock and limited liability companies; legal persons, companies of firms, or associations having no legal personality and no Spanish nationality; foreign permanent establishment and foreign subsidiaries; joint ventures and those called economic interest groups.
Nevertheless, this regulation also stipulates that invoices equal to or below 5.000 euros do not require being electronic. Those for services rendered abroad shall not be necessary until they have the necessary technical equipment and when applying a specified operating method. These two exemptions will be effective when Public Administrations adopt a proper regulation on this matter.
Every supplier and service providers will have to submit their invoices in the “general points of entry of invoices”, a free online platform developed by each Public Entity. Notwithstanding those that do not have an existing general point of entry of invoices will be able to use the one created by National State Administration: FACe.
In that context, it must be emphasized that certain Autonomous Communities i.e Cataluña, Castilla y León and Galicia, have designed their own general points of entry of invoices. Is expected that the most of the Public Entities may create one in the near future. Once the invoice is submitted, this ensures that in case of issues such as late payments, Public Entities must pay the appropriate interest to providers.
Regarding the formal aspects of electronic invoicing, Law 25/2013 redirects to Article 10.1(a) of Royal Decree 1619/2012, of November 30, enacting the Regulation on invoicing obligations as it states that the electronic invoices sent to the Public Administration shall be duly signed by means of advanced electronic signature.
A legal definition of advanced electronic signature can be found in the Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC, whose Article 26 establishes the requirements to be met by an advanced electronic signature to be valid pursuant to Law 25/2013. The requirements to be fulfilled by an advanced electronic signature are the following: it must be linked only to the signatory; it must allow to identify the signatory; it must have been created by using data of the creation of the electronic signature which the signatory may, under his sole control, employ with a high level of confidence, and lastly the advanced electronic signature shall be linked to the data signed in such a way so as to permit to detect any subsequent modification.
Law 59/2003, of December 19, on the electronic signature establishes that any advanced electronic signature shall be linked to the data signed in such a way so as to permit to detect any subsequent modification, as established by the EU Regulation 910/2014.
That said, it must be noted that the advanced electronic signature to be used in the electronic invoicing with the Public Administration shall be based on a qualified certificate, which may be created using a secure device for the creation of the signature. The requirements to be met by qualified certificates and the devices for the secure creation of electronic signatures are set out by Annex I and II of the EU Regulation 910/2014 above referred.
Finally, Law 25/2013 estimates that electronic invoicing will entail cost reductions, boosts productivity and faster payment periods. In addition, suppliers may be able to monitor their approval and payment process. However, while many authors see those advantages, others regard as premature the implementation of the electronic signature as compulsory in the dealing with the Public Administration, account taken of the fact that it can be too technologically demanding and of the inexistence of an EU directive regulating the general requirements to be met by the electronic invoicing within the relationships with the public sector.