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Definition Peppol

Peppol stands for “Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line”. It is an international network that was developed to standardize and facilitate the electronic exchange of business documents, in particular invoices and orders.

Peppol enables companies and public institutions to exchange electronic documents via a common, interoperable infrastructure, regardless of the software solutions used. This helps to simplify processes, reduce costs and increase efficiency. In particular for SMEs, most of which do not have international branches, EU-wide participation in public tenders and procurement processes should be made easier or possible.

Peppol is managed and further developed by the international, non-profit organization “OpenPeppol”, which was founded in 2012 and consists of public and private Peppol stakeholders. OpenPeppol is responsible for the governance of the Peppol network and ensures that the standards and protocols remain consistent and interoperable.

Peppol Authorities

Peppol Authorities are national or regional bodies responsible for managing and monitoring the Peppol infrastructure in their respective jurisdictions. They play a central role in the implementation and promotion of Peppol standards and protocols at local level. In Germany, the Coordination Office for IT Standards (KoSIT) is responsible.

Functions of the Peppol Authorities:

  • Governance and Supervision: Peppol Authorities ensure that the Peppol rules and standards are adhered to in their area of responsibility. They monitor the activities of the Peppol Access Points and ensure that they meet the requirements.

  • Registration and Certification: they are responsible for the registration and certification of Peppol access points. This ensures that all access points work safely and reliably.

  • Promotion and Support: Peppol Authorities promote the use of Peppol and offer support for companies and public institutions wishing to implement Peppol.

  • Training and Education: They provide training and information materials to facilitate the understanding and use of Peppol.

  • Cooperation with OpenPeppol: Peppol Authorities work closely with OpenPeppol to support the further development and implementation of the Peppol standards.

How Does Peppol Work?

Peppol is based on a set of technical specifications and standards that are managed by the OpenPEPPOL organization. The network itself consists of so-called access points, which act as intermediaries between the various participants.

  • 1

    Registration: Companies register with a Peppol Access Point of their choice. This can be a service provider that offers access to the Peppol network.

  • 2

    Document Creation: The business documents (e.g. invoices) are created in accordance with the Peppol standards. This ensures that all documents are standardized and interoperable.

  • 3

    Document Transmission: The documents are fed into the Peppol network via the access point. The sender’s access point sends the document to the recipient’s access point.

  • 4

    Document Reception: The recipient’s access point receives the document and forwards it to the recipient.

  • 5

    Confirmation: The recipient can confirm receipt of the document, so the sender can be sure that the document has arrived.

The 4 Corner Model from Peppol

This is what the transfer of invoices with Peppol looks like in practice:

Four important elements guarantee the functionality of the 4 Corner model:

  • 1

    Access Points: are Peppol-certified service providers that connect to each other and enable trading partners to send and receive messages via the Peppol network. Sending access points must validate outgoing messages before sending to ensure compliance with the Peppol Business Interoperability Specifications (BIS).

  • 2

    ACL: The “Addressing and Capability Lookup”: These services can be offered by Peppol-certified service providers either separately or together with AP services. They enable trading partners to publish their availability and supported message types and formats electronically on the network.

  • 3

    Service-Metadata Locator (SML): determines which SMP an access point must connect to in order to determine the address data of any trading partner in the Peppol network (comparable to domain names on the Internet). The Peppol SML is a single centralized service provided by OpenPeppol.

  • 4

    Public Key Infrastructure (PKI): is used by the Peppol network to establish and maintain a trusted network that provides security and integrity for all messages exchanged over the Peppol network.

Benefits of Peppol for Companies

Peppol serves as a central platform for the electronic exchange of invoices. In Germany, the platform is also used in particular for invoicing the federal government, which has had to be carried out using the XRechnung standard since 2020. Although companies are not generally obliged to use Peppol, they often make use of the practical solution.

Who Can Use Peppol?

Peppol can be used by a wide range of parties, including

  • Private Companies: Especially those that regularly need to exchange electronic invoices and orders.

  • Public Institutions: In many European countries, public institutions are obliged to accept and send electronic invoices. Peppol makes these processes considerably easier.

  • Service Providers: Software companies and service providers that offer solutions for electronic document exchange can use Peppol to offer their customers an interoperable and standardized solution.

Requirements for the Use of Peppol

The following requirements must be met in order to use Peppol:

Where is Peppol Used?

  • European Union: In many EU countries, the use of Peppol is mandatory or recommended for the exchange of electronic invoices in the public sector.

  • Norway: Norway was one of the first countries to implement Peppol comprehensively.

  • Australia and New Zealand: These countries have also started to implement Peppol to promote e-commerce.

  • Singapore: Singapore is another country outside Europe that actively uses Peppol.

Advantages of Peppol

By using a uniform standard, companies can communicate seamlessly with each other worldwide, regardless of the software used.
Cost Efficiency
Electronic document exchange reduces paper consumption, lowers shipping costs and minimizes errors caused by manual input.
Peppol facilitates compliance with legal requirements, especially in the public sector.
Peppol offers a secure and reliable infrastructure for the exchange of sensitive business data.

Peppol is a powerful tool for improving electronic commerce and offers a standardized, efficient and secure solution for the exchange of business documents. The increasing adoption and support from governments and businesses worldwide underlines the importance of this network for the future of global trade.


Digitization topics explained in a nutshell

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a technology that enables the exchange of business documents between companies in a standardized electronic format. Structured data is transferred directly from the sender’s ERP or accounting system to the recipient’s corresponding system.

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EDIFACT is an international EDI standard developed by the United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE), which provides a universal structure for data exchange. The standard is widely used not only, but especially in Europe.

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Peppol stands for “Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line”. It is an international network that was developed to standardize and facilitate the electronic exchange of business documents, in particular invoices and orders.

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XRechnung is a standardized electronic invoice format that is used in Germany. It is an XML-based format that was specially developed for electronic invoicing in the public sector.

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ZUGFeRD is a hybrid e-invoice format consisting of a machine-readable XML file and a PDF. The abbreviation stands for “Zentraler User Guide des Forums elektronische Rechnung Deutschland”.

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