From 1 January 2019, as required by the 2018 Budget Law, the electronic invoice has become mandatory for all entities resident or established in Italy, in the events of both, sales of assets or provision of service, between two VAT operators. (B2B operations, i.e. Business to Business), or in the case of sale or service provision between a VAT operator to an end consumer (B2C operations, i.e. Business to Consumer).

What is Electronic Invoicing?

It is a process which issues an electronic invoice in accordance to standard format (XML) with specifications that have been defined by the Revenue Agency; transmission of the XML invoice through the Exchange System (SDI) to the recipient and the digital preservation of the electronic invoice.

How does Electronic Invoicing Work?

An electronic invoice allows to completely abandon paper and save costs related to printing, shipping and storage; in fact, the process is entirely digital.

Active cycle

Format: an invoice produced by a management IT system can be generated directly in XML format or, if in another format, it can subsequently be transformed into XML.

Transmission and dispatch channel: through an accredited transmission channel, (XML) invoices, are sent to the SDI which certify formal characteristics and then send it to the recipient using a unique code or a certified email address that identifies the recipient. Delivery: the invoice sent will generate a receipt (Not sent, sent or not delivered, delivered), which the SDI will dispatch to the sender.

Preservation: at the end of the billing process, the electronic invoice, must be kept in accordance with regulations of current legislation.

Passive Cycle

Format: an invoice received in XML format can be viewed in another format.

Transmission and reception channel: XML invoice, depending on the chosen reception channel (recipient code or PEC), is delivered to the recipient. In the absence of these elements, the electronic invoice will be made available to the recipient in a specially reserved area on the Invoices and Fees section of the of the Revenue Agency website (https://ivaservizi.agenziaentrate.gov.it/portale).

Delivery: the delivered invoice is tracked throughout the process and is considered fiscally valid.

Preservation: at the end of the billing process, the electronic invoice must be kept in accordance with regulations of current legislation.

eWitness solution for the electronic invoice service

eWitness, as an SDI intermediary, offers solutions for the management of electronic invoices both for Public Administration and for private individuals, by providing a web application from which it is possible to monitor the progress of the transmission through specially generated messages.

eWitness system is able to process invoices in different formats, convert them into the standard format and transmit them into the interchange system; similarly, it can acquire electronic invoices from the SDI on behalf of and addressed to the customer and render them available for import into the accounts management system used by the customer.

Our system also provides automatic and centralized management of the entire process and the possibility of integrations and customizations based on customer needs.

Furthermore, with AgID accredited preservation, eWitness guarantees, upon completion of the electronic invoicing process, the Preservation of the invoices in accordance with the law.


Subjects obligated to and subjects exempted from electronic invoicing

Obligation to issue an electronic invoice concerns:

  • Transactions with businesses resident, established or identified in Italy (B2B)
  • Transactions with consumers resident in Italy (B2C)

The following are exempt from the obligation to issue electronic invoice:

  • Minimum taxpayers referred to in Art. 27, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the decree law 6 July 2011 n. 98, converted with amendments by law 15 July 2011 n. 111
  • Flat-rate taxpayers referred to in Article 1, paragraphs 54 to 89, of Law no. 190

Exempted subjects are not obliged to issue electronic invoices to certify their active operations, however they may be recipients of electronic invoices.

Electronic invoice Stamp duties

Based on MEF regulations, the deadline and payment method for electronic invoices has changed from 1 January 2019.

The new payment deadline for the virtual stamp duty of electronic invoices follows these guidelines:

  • tax payment related to deeds, documents and registers issued or used during the fiscal year are paid in a single payment within one hundred and twenty days after the end of the fiscal year
  • tax on electronic invoices issued in each calendar quarter are paid no later than the 20th day of the ensuing month.

Virtual stamp duty can be paid in one of the following ways:

  • through direct debit from a bank or post office account
  • through the F24 Form provided by the Revenue Agency

The wording that taxpayers must use to indicate the compliance of stamp duty on electronic invoices is the same as that used for paper invoices, i.e. “stamp duty paid virtually pursuant to art. 15 of the d.p.r. 642/1972 and Ministerial Decree 17/06/2014 “. For the electronic invoice, the taxpayer must fill in the appropriate field in the XML format.

What is the XML format

XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is the format in which electronic invoices must be produced, transmitted, archived and preserved digitally. XML is a format that allows you to carry out verifications required by law, making the information contained in a document available immediately.

What is the Exchange System (SDI)

SDI is the IT system managed by the Revenue Agency which enables to receive XML invoices. The system receives invoices in XML format, verifies the files received and forwards the XML invoices to the recipients. It has no administrative role and does not perform tasks related to archiving or preservation of invoices.

Recipient code or PEC

The Recipient Code (or Unique Office Code for Public Administrations) is a code consisting of seven alphanumeric characters that identifies the recipient of the electronic invoice (six characters for Public Administration).

To obtain it, a request must be made with a SDI Intermediary, who in turn obtains it from the SDI.

As an alternative to this code, it is possible to insert a PEC address.

An invoice that does not contain either the recipient code or the PEC will in any case be acquired and processed by the SDI which will then make it available to the recipient in a specially reserved area on the Invoices and Fees section of the Revenue Agency website.


Messages with which the SDI notifies the sender of the outcome of the delivery of an electronic invoice.

Notification Examples:

  • rejected: the invoice cannot be processed by the SDI as it does not meet the technical requirements of the XML format
  • delivery receipt: invoice sent correctly to the recipient
  • not delivered: invoice not delivered to the recipient for example due to the lack of a unique code or PEC

Electronic invoice for foreign customers

Invoices to foreign subjects, therefore non-resident, not established or not identified in Italy, may have a free format.

However, it is possible to issue an electronic invoice to these subjects and send it to the SDI, which in this case will detect the tax data without delivering it to the recipient.

In this case, the recipient code must be entered in the electronic invoice with “XXXXXXX” (seven “X”).

Electronic invoice for individuals without VAT

To issue an electronic invoice to an end consumer, the recipient code must be entered with “0000000” (seven “0”) and indicate the recipient’s tax code.

The SDI, processes the Tax Code, and makes the invoice available to the private individual in his “Tax Drawer”.

In any case, the transferor / provider must deliver a digital or analog copy of the electronic invoice directly to the transferee / client, communicating, at the same time, that the document is available in the Interchange System within the reserved area of the Revenue Agency website (tax drawer).